Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How to Make Home Made Rivet Setters

     Rivet setters are pieces of round bar, cylindrical steel, about 3/8 or 1/2 " in diameter, and about five inches long.  Sometimes one end is slightly concave, or spread, but many of use them flat.  Remember that whatever the shape of the end of your rivet looks like will be reproduced on the top of the rivet itself during setting.  Thats why some are concave, to preserve the dome shape of the rivet top, and manyt of us polish the end too so that the dome comes out nice and shiny too.  The difference between rivet setters and snap setters is that snap setters require two different types of tools for each half of the snap, and each has a burr or a hole in it to accomodate a recess in the snap itself.  As well, the snaps require a special plate with holes in it, and different snaps take different sets.  Your best bet is to obtain a commercial set if you are setting snaps, or study the commercial sets to see what you need to make. 

     There is a special setter for copper rivets but an old defunct hole punch can be used to slide over the post and tighten the second washer before clipping.  This is what I use and the hole punch should be larger in diameter than the post of the copper rivets, but not too wode so that it falls over the edge of the washer.

     When setting your regular two piece rivets, which are usually brass (The good ones) or brass plated steel (Not as good but a lot cheaper....these rust) a simple hammer strike works fine, and the flat look is desirtable to some of us.  Make sure any hammer you strike with has a polished surface, ort set the rivet by hitting the bottom and driving it into thge cap which should rest on a very smooth metal or stone surface.  Metal ius better.

     It is not hard to polish metal surfaces with sandpaper or silicon carbide cloth.

Information About Making Good Leather Work Surfaces

11.  Work surfaces

     All leather crafts people require a good work surface.  These can be made of many things, and there are quite a number of fairly expensive types available at leather crafts supply stores.  My favorite work surface ever is a p[iece of nylon board which was retrieved from a dumpster by a buddy of mine.  It is two inches thick and bionic.  I have used it to pound on for years and years and it is a marvelous tool.  It is about two feet by three feet, and if it had not been salvaged wold have cost over 100 dollars.  It was free for me, it had a piece sticking out that my friend wanted, so I trimmed it off with a table saw and made off with the rest.  What a deal.  A lot of leathersmits use wood as a a surface, and a large tree trunk or 6" sdlab of trunk is good, but you always want to punch down into the grain not across it.  Wood tears up very fast too.  Most work boards should be softer then the metal of your tools, thatys their purpose actually.  You don't want to mar your tools edge, hole punches and the like, by poounding through the leather into something hard.  A lot of people use polished marble slabs or granite slabs when they are tooling leather with stamping or cutting tools and tyhats because tyhose tools never punch THROUGH the leather.  When stamping you always wety the leather thorughly (Case it) and then use a hard flat surface to stamp your design.  Otherwise you want wood, or hard plastic to punch into.

     The exception to the above is when setting rivets or other fasteners which are struck forcefully, then you want a polished or at least smooth metal surface, like a metal plate, or even a nice flat anvil surface.  There is a tool which many leather people use called a steel shoe last or Dragon Last, and it is handy for setting rivets inside cases, and snaps too.  It can be turned several different ways to preesent different surfaces, and was developed for the shoe making industry, though it has application when making bags too.

How To Make Copper Rivets

10.  Making copper rivets

     Copper rivets can be made with small sections of  heavy caliber copper wire and 2 washers that closely fit the diameter of said wire.  3-4 mm (1/8 to 3/16) or larger diameter wire can and should be used.  Here again planishing is necessary.  One end of the copper wire is spread open into a flat cap-like form.  Holes drilled in your metal plate will help this operation.  If you really get into making your own copper rivets its a good idea to make a form for yourself, to make life easier and make the rivets more uniform.  Study the commercial varieties and learn from them.

A washer is pushed onto the wire so it fits tightly against the planished end, the cap.  The unplanished end is then put through a tight fitting hole in the leathers being fastened, and the remaining washer, is placed over the protruding end of wire.  Pushing down on that washer will cinch the join up, and needle nosed pliers help accomplish this.  Then trim any excess copper wire, usually with cutting pliers, and planish the second end of the wire into a cap.  Make sure the bottom of the rivet is on a hard metal surface, so that the planishing action at the top is not hindered by the entire work giving way.

Home Made Leather Cutting Methods And Tools

9.  Cutting leather

     Many advanced craftsman use what is called a Craft Knife to cut their leather, and it can be used as a leather thinner, a skive or skife, as well.  The craft knives are not very expensive and are a worthy investment, though a lot of leatherwork can be accomplished with some kitchen knives repurposed into leather tools, and even heavy scissors are a mainstay of the leather shop.  Many people prefer scissors in fact, though there are limits to what they will perform. 

One of my favorite innovations or perhaps tricks is a better word is use of a chop knife.  I just use my mallet to strike a blade so that it chops in a straight line across a piece of leather with hardly any effort at all.  Old bread knives modified into long craft type knives usually lend themselves well to this operation, and just about any knife can be adopted as a chop knife.  Keep safety in mind and especially keep your fingers clear.  Striking the knife could cause it to pinch your findgers against the cutting surface if you are not ready for it.

Below are some cutting tools for leather of various types.  Some Commercial and some home made.  The long kitchen knives are good for chopping long straight edges in heavy leather.

How to Make Home Made Stamping Tools

8. Stamping tools

     One of the easiest leather tools to make, and some of the more expenisve types too, are stamping tools for making designs into heavier leathers by hitting the stamping tool with a hammer.  Large nails with flat heads are required for this job, and the nail points, the end which is driven into the wood, must be cut or ground off.  Study commercially available tools for your designs, and also invent your own.  You can duplicate any leather stamping tool made with a little time and patience.  Use files and Drill Bits to create youor designs.

     You can teach yourself to stamp designs in leather by starting with measured geometric patterns, then moving onto more intricate things.  Use your edge liner, or a ruler and an awl to create boundaries along which you can stamp your designs and keep them uniform. If you wish to cut your design into leather, it is probably best to obtain a commercially made swivel knife, though decorative cuts can also be made with other tools like a butter knife sharpened into a point, and along one edge.

How To Make Awls

 7.  Push Awls

     A very handy tool is called an awl, it is a piece of sturdy round metal with a point ground onto the end of it.  It can be used to make holes or widen holes, and for many other things.  Imagine a screwdriver with a sharp point ground onto the end -- that is exactly what an awl is, and they are one of the easier tools to make.  Old leather crafters used them in lieu of the multi-pronged punches, making one hole at a time by pushing the awl point through the leather.  It is good to have several different sizes, and if the metal part of the screwdriver is a little long, shorten it by cutting with a hacksaw before grinding a point on it.  Leave about 3" or so on larger awls and less on smaller ones.  It is best to have somewhat of a rouynded tip, versus a really sharp tip which could puncture your skin in use.

The middle tool is a beat up philips screwdriver of which everyone must have a few.  They can be easily sharpened to a point, even on a sidewalk and then they become an awl. Very useful for heavy sewing.

How To Make Large Round Hole Punches

6.  Round and Oblong Hole Punches

     Round hole punches are many times necessary in leather work for allowing straps to pass through as fastening agents, or for placing other types of fasteners such as rivets.  Round punches can be made from various types of steel pipe, sharpened along the lower edge.  Strike only with wooden or rawhide mallets.  The leather discs created by hole punching will pile up inside the pipe and can be removed easily.  Save those for buttons or for other uses you will come across as time goes on.  The best pipe for hole punches I have come across is the steel used in golf club shafts.  It can be cut with a tubing cutter, and can be sharpened easily and with an edge that holds.  The high quality steel alloy used in metal gold club shafts is some real space age material, and would be costly if you were not salvaging.  I bought a complet set of putters, drivers, and irons at a thrift shop last year for ten dollars.   The tubing available this way also tapers along the shaft so that each shaft will make a selection of sizes.   I have all the high quality tubing I could ever use for making leather tools now.  Again a cheap tubing cutter works very well to cut this high quality tubing, just be careful because the edges you put on it with your files will be almost razor sharp.  Which is nice of course, but you are made of leather too, remember that.

     Sometimes oblong punches can be made this way as well, by hammering out the end of a pipe into the shape you need, and attempts should be made if possible because the oblong punches are some of the more expensive hole punches.  Golf club tubing does not work too well for this, it is brittle and does not take deformation well, but some of the galvanized pipe will work, especially if it is heated to a dull red first, then left to cool without quenching.  That process is called annealing and will soften the metal enough to be hammered into an oblong shape.  Sharpening of the oblong punches is a little trickier than the sharpening of round punches but it can be done with a little patience.  Patience is one of the best tools of any craftsman.

A couple of pictures of an oblong punch, then golf club tube and a tubing cutter.