Rivet - Dictionary definition: 1. Nail or bolt for holding together metal places etc., its headless end being beaten out or pressed down after passing through two holes. 2. Verb, to Clinch (bolt); join or fasten with rivets; fix, make immovable.
When I mentioned using rivets to my other half, we soon established that the rivets he used in metalwork (like the ones that hold your saucepan handle on) were completely different to the rivets used for handbag handles! Before I could try using them, I needed to find the right ones.
I found out that the rivets used for handbags and leatherwork are variously called Cap Rivets, Dot Rivets, Rapid Rivets or Tubular Rivets!
They can be Single Cap or Double Cap
These are Single cap rivets (a.k.a. Jiffy or Speedy rivets) with a shiny dome on just one side. The back part has the hollow post, without a cap. You use them where only one side will be seen on the exterior and the other is hidden in the lining.
I googled and searched in e-bay and found a bewildering array available. I finally bought these from FIKASHOP on Etsy. They were listed as “6 mm Silver round Rivet rapid studs”.
These are Double cap rivets, as they have a shiny dome on both sides so they can be used where they are seen from both sides, i.e. on handles and straps.
I bought these from Popstuffs in Etsy, they were listed as “6 mm Metal Rivets, Round Cap Double Headed Metal Rivet - Size: 6mm (Cap), 5mm (Rivet Head Diameter)”
They come in different sizes, and you need to select one that has a post which is the right length to go through however many layers of bag fabric and handle materials you are using, and emerge far enough out to fit into the other cap.
Neither FIKASHOP nor Popstuffs actually quoted the length of the post. I assumed the 6 mm referred to this when I bought from FIKASHOP, but I did double check with Popstuffs before I bought from them. (Nothing wrong with FIKASHOP but Popstuffs had something else I wanted to buy and it saved on postage!)
I then found an alternative Rivet is available from Prym. They call them Tubular Rivets, and as you can see from the picture on the card, they are for handles and straps. Look carefully at the pack and you can just see that they are Double caps.
There are 3 sizes available, 3 – 4 mm, 4 – 6 mm and 6 – 9 mm. This does relate to the size of the post, not the width of the cap, and this is illustrated on the card by this symbol I. Nice and simple. I bought mine from www.fabric-dreams.co.uk which despite the name are in Germany.
So here is my Rivet collection. At the far left you can see the hollow end of the post in the back of the Single Cap Rivet. You can also see the varying width and height of the cap part. Below you can see the varying length of the posts and width of their caps.
Key, from left to right – The Single Cap Rivet 6 mm FIKASHOP
The Double Cap Rivet 6 mm Popstuffs
The Prym Tubular Rivet 3 – 4 mm Fabric-Dreams
The Prym Tubular Rivet 4 – 6 mm (ditto)
The Prym Tubular Rivet 6 – 9 mm (ditto)
As you can see, the size of the cap varies quite considerably, the smallest Prym cap being larger than both the generic caps. Below I had used a 3 - 4mm Prym rivet, then panicked and added 2 of the 6mm double cap rivets either side to make sure it was strong enough! You can see the difference in cap size.
a) H0LE PUNCH
1. Single punch – a metal spike you hit with a hammer to cut holes in your fabric/leather. One punch for each size.
2. Rotary punch – a tool with a wheel you rotate to use the various sized punches. You will need to clear the holes out now and then, and it will eventually go blunt, but it is a handy tool and no hammer is needed.
3. Prym Vario Pliers – Spring loaded pliers with interchangeable parts to cut holes in varying sizes (also fits snaps and eyelets/grommets) without using a hammer. You can buy spare parts to replace them when they get blunt.
The Prym Rivets pack includes some basic tools and instructions. There is a flat plastic disc, a flat metal disc (not mentioned in the instructions) and a single punch.
The instructions show that after you use the punch, you place the plastic disc on a flat surface with the rivet back on top, laying with the post pointing upwards. You then place the fabric over the post and fit the other cap (shiny dome side up) on the top. When you push down they will ‘click’ together. You then hit it with a hammer!
However, even with a thick piece of cloth over it, this dented my cap slightly. The reason for this is that the pack does NOT include a setting tool and anvil like these!
b) SETTING TOOL
This is a metal pen-shaped tool about 3” long, with a concave end. It is used to set double cap and regular rapid rivets. You set the concave end on the cap and hit the setting tool with the hammer, not the rivet, and the concave end prevents flattening the cap.
Also known as a micro anvil, this is a small metal drum shape. One side is flat for single caps, and the other side is concave for double caps.
I searched on-line and bought mine in the U.K. here http://www.theidentitystore.co.uk/products.asp?SubCatID=92 but you can get them from the The Tandy Leather Factory who ship pretty much worldwide.
Fairly simple, just pick one you like that’s not too heavy. If it’s pretty like these ones, it might not get “borrowed”! Mine is an 8oz claw hammer with a rubber grip.
They are fiddly little things and come in zip lock bags, or the Prym card. I bought a bead storage box for the Prym ones, and may buy another now for the generic ones I have.
Lisa Lam (u-handbag.com) demonstrates using single cap rivets in tutorial "How to use metal rivets"
Chris Welsh (ChrisWDesigns.com) shows "How to install rivets" using double caps.
Lastly I found this excellent video tutorial “Setting a Rivet” on you-tube from MaineLineIndustries
Hope you found this useful, and enjoy banging them in as much as I do now now that I have everything I need!
thanks for sharing.
Thanks for Sharing! I had just ordered some rivets and grommets for bags, wish I had seen your post first.
Great article and video. Have always wondered how to do this. Thanks!
I was searching for rivets and stumbled upon your post! This is awesome! It has been so hard to identify correct rivets for my projects and this clears things out a lot. I have a question though about the Prym Vario plyers. I wanted to make a skirt using press snaps and got the Vario Pliers by Prym and they worked great! They mention on the pack that they are intended for snaps eyelets grommets and rivets. I can't seem to find any Prym rivets though that have the dies for the Vario Plyers. I am confused as to why can one use the pliers for press snaps and not rivets as well? It seems like a no brainer? I see you have mentioned these pliers above but where do you actually find the dies to use these with rivets?
I bought the Prym pliers for that very reason, but I confess I don't use them for rivets at all. I did try them with the Prym Tubular Rivets I bought and they mashed them up. It boils down to angles. Rivets have to be hit straight down to work, and the pliers press in an arc. A small but important difference.
Now I use the Rotary Punch to make the h***, add a little Fray Stop if necessary, then the Setting Tool and Anvil to fit the rivet.
I use the Prym pliers for everything else, and use the dies (is that the correct term for the shapes you fit in the end? LOL I am still learning! I'd better update the post) that come in the packets with the snaps, grommets etc. The Hemline brand also fit the Prym Pliers by the way. I bought the extra size dies pack with the Pliers but they only make bigger holes, and the Rotary Punch does a better job quite frankly.
Hope that helps. I really enjoy Rivets now, and my last bag (the Advanced City Slicker by ChrisWDesigns.com) only used rivets to fit the straps.
Thank you so much for all the info! That makes sense now.. I will try and get the anvil tool etc and try it out! Cool bag by the way!!