17 December 2008

My First Rivets

The title for this post sounds like the title for a children's book, which I think is appropriate since my first project made me jump up and down with child-like glee. I couldn't bear to wait for my new tools to arrive, so I rummaged around to see what I could do with what I had. Basically, I have a lot of wire and a lot of construction materials.

I found a scrap of thin wood, drew a somewhat random pattern, and cut out the rough shape using a coping saw. I dragged out my new and unused Dremel with a flexshaft attachment, added a sanding drum, and had a blast refining the wood shape. I wanted to try putting some flush rivets of copper in the wood base, but decided I better just start with an ordinary rivet with mushroom heads.

My woodworking dowels have an interesting spiral groove (for holding glue). I resisted the urge to lay in some wire (too obvious for now), and decided to rivet this to my wood base after flattening the bottom on sandpaper first. I had issues attaching the dowel to the base. I wanted to use 14 gauge copper wire (that is all I have) with a balled head on top of the bare wood, but I could not get the copper to ball up. I switched to Argentium wire (balls up just fine), then decided the color contrast with copper would be nice, meaning making copper "washers," and why use plain copper when heat-treated copper yields such nice red-pick colors? So my washers are randomly shaped pieces of heat-treated 28 gauge copper sheet. They kind of look like leather.

My drill bit died, so I couldn't drill holes in the copper, but I managed to make holes by using an awl to deform the sheet, file down the bulge, push out again with the awl, file again. This worked extremely well! I love creative problem-solving!! The part of the project that made me jump up and down was the tube rivet at the top. This was just the coolest thing ever! I think these will start showing up in my work.

I have been "absorbing" information about riveting for several months now, but I have to thank three sources for finally pushing me to actually try it: craftcast.com, Robert Dancik, and Janice Fowler. Craftcast.com hosted the live online workshop with Robert Dancik that I wrote about yesterday, and last week I bought a very nice tutorial on tube rivets from metalsmith, Janice Fowler. All great sources!!

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