Tutorial – How to Install Metal Rivets

Parts of this post were original published as part of my “Quarter Keeper Tutorial” guest-post at The Southern Institute

I like shiny things and few things makes me happier then working in some metal hardware into a project. Luckily, with the right tools and know-how, they aren’t really that difficult to use. Really. Take rivets for example…

Not only do rivets add serious bling to your project, they are handy for attaching things when it is difficult to sew – like when there are more layers than your sewing machine can handle, or the location is prohibitive to sewing. I used them for my Pleated Clutch Wallet because it was making my machine cry like a baby. 

Buying Rivets and Rivet Setting Tools

Where do you get them? I found Etsy to be the easiest way to shop for them.
Searching for “rivets” under “Supplies” will reveal rivets of all sizes and shapes. (Skulls, anyone?) The ones I used for this project are “double capped, rapid rivets, 6mm”.

You will also need some setting tools.  Suppliers like to sell them as kits and you will need one appropriately sized for your rivets. It doesn’t hurt to ask the seller for help if you are confused by their options. I needed to. :) Included in the kit, is a hole punch, a setter, and an anvil. You will also need a cutting mat or something to protect your work surface, and a hammer. I went with a rubber one because it was quiet and I didn’t want to wake up napping babies. The cutting mat I am using is one from a dollar store. I didn’t want to destroy my good one with the hole punch.

Installing Rivets

To install the rivets, lay your project on the cutting mat and position the hole punch (pictured on left below) on top of where your want your hole to be. Hit the hole punch with your hammer until it pierces through all layers.

Next, we poke the “post” half of the rivet through the hole. Then snap the “cap” onto the post. It will stay on, but be wiggly until our final step.

Place the post half of the rivet on your anvil. The top of the anvil is curved to protect the shape of the rivet while we are hammering. Then, place the concave end of the setter onto cap.  Keeping the setter as straight as possible, give it a good whack with your hammer to set the rivet.

And that was it! Not so scary right?

Ready to give a project a go? Hope over to The Southern Institute to make a Quarter Keeper Keychain!


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6 Responses to Tutorial – How to Install Metal Rivets

  1. Rachel October 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    You’re right that is much less scarey than I would have thought! Thanks for the tip I wouldn’t have thought of Etsy for this.


  2. nissaMade October 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I’ve just begun using rivets on my bags and LOVE them! btw I’ve been following your bag board on pinterest for a while.. so happy to have just found your blog

  3. Louise Richardson February 23, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Thankyou SO much for this – love it when people link to the actual tools to buy! I have been buying off 3DPatternPaper for years – and only just got into rivets and never thought to go back to them! Im using rivets with flat backs at the moment and their seriously week. they take about nine hits before the rivet does pop off the top like the way you pop it on, by which point the ‘flat’ back is a crumpled mess. Ive even bought a rubber hammer and a rubbersteel block to hit against. Gah! I will buy a 3DPatternPaper bundle right away :)

    Thanks again :) Really appreciate this. off to go check out your whole blog! Louise x


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