16 Aug 2016

Setting a rivet

Its not that is hard. You just need the knowledge and the right tools. Apparently the place to look for guidance about setting small rivets (around 2 mm in diameter) is not in the leatherworking community. For this you need to look at jewelers. They are use to working with these small diameters.

For some reason the only hammer most people recommend for setting a rivet is a ball peen hammer. I never really put much thought into it so assumed that this was the only hammer for the job. The problem with this hammer is that it can not get into tight places. This was a problem when I had to set the rivet on the portfolio. As you can se the hasp prevents the hammer to hit the rivet all the way around.

After seeing this video Riveting Basics Tutorial | Jewelry Tips with Nancy I got on ebay and found a riveting hammer (pretty obvious name). I was tired of the hammer being too big so I bought the smallest I could find and ended up whit this:


This hammer turned out to be way too small. I then went to the local hardware store and found a cheap cross peen hammer:

Here your see how small the hammer is:

Another major problem is than when you set the rivet on a flat anvil the soft head of the brass rivet gets a flat spot. To avoid this I found this little fellow:
                                                    Solid Brass Dapping Block
I sanded the surface down a bit as the holes were to big for the rivet. I also put a green mark next to the hole that fit the rivet. It has several sizes of holes so it should fit all sizes of rivets with a round head.

To avoid scratching the leather I put the block in a plastic bag:

After that setting a rivet was a breeze:


  1. You are a mine of information. I had never heard of a cross peen hammer and the brass block is ingenious. Do you have to buff out hammer scratches after setting the rivet?

    1. Hehe thanks! :) Yes the brass block is super nice. No I'm just really careful not to miss the rivet. The key is to take your time and let the hammer do the work. With the 3 rivets on the hasp I only missed the rivets once and it did not leave a mark... luckily

  2. Hi Mr. Andersen,

    Many thanks for sharing your wisdom and talents. Is there a reason you went with the brass dapping block for this lock versus the lead block you'd previously used here - http://andersenleather.blogspot.com/2015/10/back-piece.html ?

    Also, any recommendations on where to find such small rivets?

    Happy New Year!


    1. Hi Brad,

      I found that the lead block was to soft for the small rivets. The head of the rivet was pushed to deep into the lead resulting in a badly set rivet.

      I get mine from a domestic webshop https://smedjeriet.dk/p/messingnitte-2-x-10-mm/

      I haven't seen these types of rivets anywhere else (but I haven't really looked) but when I do a quick search I find many with the same diameter but the head is more flat than mine. I think it's because I mostly find escutcheon pins which is supposed to be hammered in place as tacks. They could be used as rivets if you dont mind the flat head.

  3. That makes sense, thanks!

    I'll look around some of these US sites and see if I can find equivalent rivets. Much appreciated.