Nancy LT Hamilton

Last updated:  6/8/20, 8/24/18

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How to rivet hollow forms?


One thought, without seeing what you are talking about, is to run the wire through tubing that is cut to the correct height.  The tubing would help support the piece from collapsing.   As far as measuring the tubing, it will probably start as a good guesstimate and you’ll have to adjust downwards – always cut it slightly longer than you think you’ll need.  Although, if you know the exact size, ignore that last comment and cut to size!  You could also use a harder metal for the tubing like brass or bronze to add additional strength AND keep the cost down.  The rivets can be in whatever metal you choose.  Here’s a drawing of what I’m seeing:

I would also pre-finish one end of the rivet either by balling one end up or making a nail head rivet.  This helps reduce the amount of riveting work necessary – it reduces the chances of bending the wire/tubing. Don’t forget to cut a divot, in the top and bottom,  if you want to create an invisible or flush/recessed rivet.

I often rivet the other end of a round-head rivet by placing the rounded part in a dapping block recess that closely fits the size of the ball. You can also hammer down on the top, balled rivet by using a concave punch either make one by using a ball bur on an annealed steel rod, use an old cup bur, or perhaps one of these bezel punches.

(My set – pictured – is from Rio Grande)

Question:  How to make a moveable rivet.

I watched the riveting video. It was riveting but I was wondering, how do I make rivets with movement?  Is it as simple as allowing space between the metal sheets being riveted and the tube? For example in your video on Brooches you’re wearing a giant flower necklace that moves, that I love! Is that a rivet making it move?


This page, on my website, explains how to make a moveable rivet.  The necklace I have on (sounds like I have a cold, in that video!), moves because of the jump ring connections.

 (Click on image to enlarge).

Question:  How to ball up wire on the end of a balled riveted.

I have learned SO many techniques from you, along with new tools that you use. Thank you so much!!! I have been trying to connect two pieces of silver together by melting silver wire into a ball on one end, threading the two pieces of silver onto the wire and then cutting the wire and trying to melt another ball on the other end so that the two pieces of silver move separately, but are held together between the two silver balls…… does that make sense? I have even seen artists use this method to attach a briolette stone, with the wire running through the hole at the top and a ball of silver on either side of the hole…..  I can make the first hole, no problem, but I can’t figure out how to get the same size ball on the other side and to get it up tight so there’s not a huge amount of play….

If you could share any info you might have on this, I would appreciate it greatly.

  You have stumbled upon one of the most annoying things that I’ve found in metalsmithing. It is very difficult to get evenly sized balls, on the end of the wire, because the metal, that you’re attaching it to, is much larger and heavier than the wire.  This bigger chunk of metal, acts as a heat sink, making it difficult or impossible to melt the ball. Also, the wire is so short, that you can’t heat it in the normal fashion – which is heating, several millimeters above the end of the wire.
  I have found, that using a Smith little torch, Gentec  or the Cisno Micro Mini  (Amazon affiliate links), or one similar to them, helps a lot.  You need a very hot flame. The Little Torch uses a gas/oxygen mixture which makes the flame really hot. I’ve also found, that having a very small flame size,  increases your chances of success.  Use a small tip.
  Smith sells the Smith Little Torch for disposable canisters or you can purchase regulator adaptors if you cannot have large tanks where you live. You can use the Cisno and probably the Gentec with Smith’s disposable tank regulators, I believe – but, check first!
One other tip: Direct the flame at the junction between the wire and the metal you’re connecting it to.  Keep the flame below the cut end of your wire.
A butane torch, will not produce sufficient heat for this process.
  I wish I had an easier solution for you.  This process works for me.  There may be other solutions out there.
The only other option that you have, if you can’t resolve the issue, due to not having the right torch, is to rivet one end, in the traditional fashion.
  (Fine, collectible, and museum-worthy art by NLTH! HA!!!)
You ball up only one end and then put the balled up part, of the wire, into a small domed recess of a dapping block or other round recess, while you tap the rivet on the opposite side.  It’s a bit of a balancing act but you will get better with practice.   The rounded shape of the block will keep the ball from getting too squished while you are riveting. You’ll want to put it in the smallest hole that fits as perfectly as possible. You don’t want too small of a hole because the dapping block will damage the head of your rivet.  Too large of a recess, and the balled wire will flatten.
   (Lynx C-4 Cup Bur: Clean-Cut Concave Cutter – talk about alliteration!).
To repair any damage to the ball, you can clean up with a cup bur that matches the size of your ball or is slightly larger.

Where do I buy tubing and what should I know about tube setting stones



I just watched one of your YouTube videos and it was very helpful so, thank you.  I just started making jewelry using stones. I would like to know if you could tell me where I tubing to make my own rivets.

I want to rivet the holes on pendants to prevent the jump rings from chipping the stones.


You can purchase tubing at many different locations. Micromark also carries tubing and they have a bag of scrap tubing, mixed metals, which is also useful.

A tube cutter makes it much easier and more accurate when cutting tubing.  It also cuts down on saw blade breakage as tubing tends to bind while cutting often snapping the blade.

Currently, the best jig out there, in Internet World, is the Bergeon Jig. Otto Frei, Rio Grande, Esslinger and other suppliers carry it.  Next best: none that I’ve found.  Really! The only one to buy is the Bergeon, IMHO.  Less wiggle room for the blade to move in.  All the other tube cutters have too wide a slot.

I also, often use the miter cutting vise, in conjunction with the vise because of a jeweler’s need for absolute precision.  The miter cutting vise allows one to create a perfect 90° angle edge.  See my page: Miter Cutting Vise (surprising name, isn’t it?).

You want a thin cutting area to keep the saw blade from moving too much. Here’s a Q&A from my site about how to cut tubing without a jig.  I also have a video on creating tube rivets. (Which is probably what you already watched!).

You might think about using a thinner-walled tubing for your tube rivets – that will make it easier to rivet them.

Rivets To Repair Objects


You may remember this type of baking pan from your childhood:

They were called “easy release” baking pans.  No longer made except cheap Chinese ones that rust when you wash them.

Well, I have 2 of these pans that belonged to my mother.  Both are in perfect, very usable shape except for one problem: both of the rivets holding the levers to the pan gave way.  I have the pans, with small holes in the bottom of each, and the levers, still holding the original rivets.  I need to figure out a way to reattach the lever sot the pans.  I have been online and to Lowe’s and cannot find rivets that would work.  They are all too large.  Do you think your wire method for jewelry would work for this and if so can you recommend materials needed?  I actually have riveting hammers that my grandfather made and also several ball peen hammers; all I would need to do is find the appropriate wire.  Maybe even a nail would work?


Wire or tubing will be great for this!  No problem.  If they are aluminum pans, I’d recommend aluminum wire/rod or tubing (link to Online Metals) – try to match metals.

I like a small ball peen for riveting.
Bring the pan with you to the store so you can check for a tight fit on the wire or measure the hole.  You can check for gauge, from your measurement, here with my Drill Bit Chart.  Remember a snug wire is a good thing!  See below for info on how to make a rivet that allows movement.
Please check out my webpage: Basic Rivets for a ton of information on riveting. In particular, read Tip One.
If you need to remove the rivets, drill them out.  Be careful to not use too large of a drill bit as you don’t want to open the hole wider than it already is. Back to Table of Contents

Where Can I Buy Tubing For Riveting?


“I have been trying to source the silver tubing you used in your making rivets from tube video. Can you share your supplier with me?”


My webpage:  Wire and Sheet Metal lists many suppliers.  You can get tubing from most of them. If you scroll down the page, there is more specific information on the metals.  Unfortunately, the webpage is not complete.  Dang.  

I get most of my silver from many suppliers. You can purchase, fine silver, sterling, or Argentium silver tubing from them – heavy-walled or regular walled.  Depends on what you want.  Probably, for tube rivets, the regular will do.  Usually, the thicker tubing is used for hinging or stone setting.  As to the type of metal – that’s up to you.  Argentium, (essentially) doesn’t tarnish, fine silver does and sterling tarnishes the most. Fine silver is the “softest” silver and moves the easiest.  Sterling and Argentium are a little stiffer.  Cost may also be a determinant in your purchase.  The prices for the three silver varies. Purchase the silver as “soft” not 1/2 hard or hard.  It will make the riveting easier.  Although, if you are making stilt or long rivets – where there is a largish length of tubing – you might want 1/2 hard so that the tubing doesn’t bend as easily.

image (3)

These riveted beads have a long tube running through them.  When using this type of rivet, it’s nice to have the tubing a little stiff but, there is also a greater chance of splitting the top part because of that.  You can partially rivet them and then anneal the ends only.  Another option is to use thick-walled, “soft” tubing.  The thick-walled tubing helps to keep the tubing straight and not getting bent during the riveting process.
One more note:  Metalliferous sells fancy tubing.  Although not the best for riveting, it does make nice beads. Back to Table of Contents

How To Hammer Rivets On Pieces That Are Not Flat


“I just watched the fancy riveting video and love using the draw plate thing. However, I’m having a hard time not flattening everything in on the flower side when I set the back. Nothing EVER looks like I intended. HELP this frustrated jeweler.”


Hi Gaye, I’m a bit confused about what you mean.  I THINK, you mean that when you rivet the back, you flatten the front?  If this is so, the answer is using small pieces of steel to rivet on.  When I rivet a flower, I position either a small piece of square, polished steel stock, or use a small dapping punch. You can buy a bezel pusher, flatten the handle side with a sander and polish the end too.  It makes riveting more of a balancing act but, helps you to get into tight spots and helps to avoid squishing everything.  There are great little anvils (or stakes) that are perfect for riveting.  I have, and use, this one and this one.  You need a holder to keep it aligned and steady.

Here’s the setup I was talking about. The rivet nestled in the petals sits on top of the rod or dap – supporting the rivet, while you hammer the top side.


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How To Set A Shell Using A Tube Setting As A Rivet


“I am trying to set a shell using a tube setting as a rivet, kind of like using a tube rivet with a donut bead but instead, having a shell with a hole in it instead of the donut bead. I hope that makes sense. THEN, I wanted to set a small faceted stone inside the tube rivet to pretty it up. I drew the side view.”


What you are talking about can be easily done.  What I would do though, is solder the tubing to the back of (or through) the shell’s bezel.  Why rivet it?


  • Place the shell in the bezel. Tape in place if it can wiggle or move around.
  • Mark where you want to set the stone on the shell.
  • Drill a hole for the tubing at that mark.  The drill bit should be the same size or slightly smaller than the tubing. It’s best to use a drill press, for this, if you have one.  If not, using a slightly smaller drill bit will allow for “arm and hand wiggle”, which usually results in a slightly larger hole.  (Ensure that the tubing is the correct size for your stone.)
  • When drilling, leave a small mark, on the back of the shell’s bezel, with the drill bit. This marks the exact location of the tubing or go ahead and drill right through the shell’s bezel. (See the “Note” below on this).
  • Place tubing in the hole – check for fit and for height. If too tight, use a round file to open slightly.  Check often, like every push or so.
  • Saw tubing.  File flat and sand smooth. Leave enough height to be able to set the stone.  A little extra is good for those “damn, I screwed up” moments.
  • If you are using CZ’s you can set the stone BEFORE soldering to the back.  Let me know if you are, I have a few tricks for that.
  • Remove shell.
  • Cut seat for stone in the tubing, using a setting bur. You can do this before or after it is soldered on.

Note:  There are two ways to attach the tubing:  1. Place the tubing dead-center – over the mark you made with the drill bit – ensuring that the metal and the tubing are square and flush. or… 2. Drill a hole, all the way through the back of the shell’s bezel, and thread the tubing through.  IF you choose this method, you should make the tubing a bit longer because you’ll need to account for the back plate’s thickness and a bit extra for luck and cleanup.

The benefits for drilling all the way through the shell’s bezel are a. that the hole (the interior of the tube) will allow light to shine up into the stone helping it to glitter more, b. it is easier to clean and c. the solder join is much stronger (because it is IN the metal, not sitting on top – although in this case, there won’t be a lot of stress on the join.

  • Solder in place.  Clean up any lumps of solder that can interfere with setting the shell.
  • Set shell, threading the tubing through the hole (in the shell) that you drilled, as you do. Rub over walls or prongs.
  • Set stone in the tubing.
  • Clean up.
  • Make a million dollars.

I don’t think you need to rivet the shell in place if your bezel is good. Maybe you want the look of a rivet?  It’s actually more work to rivet it than it is to solder it (IMHO).  

For the shell bezel: you can do a flat back with prongs as I did with this abalone pendant:

shell piece


prong shell

Prong closeup

Each prong is individually sized because (as you well know) the shell is not uniformly level.  Stupid shell!

The amethyst is set with a prong setting on the end of a flattened piece of wire that snakes over the shell.  I moved it into position after setting the shell and the stone.

Should I rivet before bending my ring shank or after?  Also, how do I protect a patina?


I was wondering if you could give me some pointers on the order of steps to put rivets in a ring band.  Basically what I am trying to do is have a medium width ring band, with a narrower strip of a different metal riveted around it.

It seems like it would be easiest to do before shaping the band, but then they might not end up how I want them spaced. I also want to do a bit of patina on the overlaying piece, so I think I can’t attach it until after the band is soldered and pickled.
Would I form the band first – basically finishing the band, then attach the overlay with tape or something, put the ring in a clamp to drill the hole, hammer on a ring mandrel, then do the next one, etc?


Depending on the thickness, I’d try riveting first and then bending/hammering into shape.  Riveting after bending is a lot tougher but, you may have issues with the outer ring not being as smooth a bend if you rivet beforehand.  So, I’d do a test piece and see which works best for you.  Both methods work but, the second is a little tricker.  You can recess the holes (on the interior surface of the ring band) with a ball bur or a setting bur, make a nailhead rivet, that fits into the recess, and then you only have to hammer on the top side.  You’ll have to support the interior “nailhead” on a dapping punch or a small anvil or stakes.

If you want to keep the patina off the lower level, paint some linseed oil over what you want to protect – or other thick oil.  Then patina and wash off the oil with hot, soapy water (I use a toothbrush as a scrubby – it gets into tight areas!) or, if persistent a little turpentine.
You can use a wooden ring mandrel to hold the ring while drilling.  Drill only one hole at a time.  Place rivet.  Drill next hole, rivet, etc.

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