Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tube Rivet, 25 years in the making...

Yes, I have been making jewelry and metalsmithing for over 25 years, and only today did I set my first tube rivet.

The key to teaching shop classes is improvisation, and the following tutorial is an improvised tube rivet. I had a broken tube cutter, a drawer full of drill bits which were not the right size, and no dapping punch, yet behold, I made a tube rivet.

School starts next week, and my first assignment for my advanced class will be a set of bangles which will have to in some way incorporate a tube rivet. The sample I created is only a sample, it's pretty bare bones, but with some imagination this concept of cold connecting a bangle can become pretty exciting. Here goes:

Like wire rivets, the key to a tube rivet is a snug fit. Like I said, I could not find a drill bit to match my tube so I drilled my holes pretty close, a bit small, then used a round needle file to open up the hole. Go slow, you can easily file away too much, then your hole is too big.

I started with a 10 inch strip. I textured one end, then drilled my hole. I then opened the hole up a bit with my file.

I then cut my strip down to 9 inches. I then annealed, wrapped it around a bracelet mandrel, and textured the other end. Note, I rounded one end, left the other more squared. 

I marked with a sharpie where I wanted to put the second hole, and opened up the bracelet to drill that hole. Then I reshaped it and fed my tube thru from the inside. I had to file the holes a bit more to get it in. Then I marked with a sharpie where I was going to cut the tube. I basically guessed on this measurement, but as you can see, only a small amount is going to be sticking out on each end.

I cut my tube by just holding it in my hands over my bench pin and using a 3/0 blade. I then inserted the tiny tube back into the bracelet. Rather than using a punch I used a ball peen hammer. I started on the inside, my hammer just barely fit inside, but I did have enough space to lightly tap straight down into the tube. Then I slide the bracelet onto the mandrel and hit from the top. My hole got a bit smooshed, it's not a perfect circle. The tube walls flattened nicely around the hole though.

And a little liver of sulfur...

This is by no means a finished piece, it is merely a sample so that my 16 years olds have something they can hold and see up close. I fully expect them to run with this and make creative amazing bangles. The cool thing about metalsmithing and jewelry is the limitless possibilities. I will be sure to post the results of this assignment. Until then, I will be refining my tube riveting skills, but I must say, it really is so easy, and fun....
Happy riveting!!

P.S. This bracelet is a bit too big for me. I should have overlapped the ends further. Play around a bit to get the right fit. :)

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