How to Use Fancy Wire Rivets

April 5, 2013

Bees ~ Fleur-de-Lis ~ Leaves ~ Simple Domed ~ Shells ~ Hearts ~ Stars

If you already know how to make and set traditional wire rivets, then you only need to know one new thing about setting these fun decorative rivets:

  • To prevent marring the decorative rivet head, don’t hammer with your rivet head directly on the usual steel block. Instead, set the rivet head on a piece of wood (a scrap of 2×4″ works great), or use a piece of heavy leather between the rivet head and steel block.

If you’ve never set a wire rivet before, these are great rivets to learn with, because one end is already finished — you only need to set the back side of the rivet.

69-971-10-5 silver star rivet

#69-971-10-5  Silver star rivet

I should mention that everything described here works for Vintaj’s nail-head rivets too.

To use these fun rivets, you will need:

Instructions for setting fancy wire rivets:

  1. Lay out your design, and mark dots where you want holes for the rivets.

    Mark spots to punch holes for rivets

    Mark spots to punch holes

  2. Use the 1.25mm hole punch to punch each hole, then enlarge each hole slightly with the bead reamer, until the rivet just barely squeaks through. (You can rivet with a too-large hole, but it is more difficult and should be avoided.)
    Punch hole for riveting

    Punch holes

    Ream slightly with Bead Reamer

    Ream slightly

  3. Assemble the layers to be riveted, and use flush cutters to snip off the excess rivet length, leaving approximately 1.5mm sticking out past the components. Cut off too much, and you won’t have enough left to make a durable rivet head. Leave it too long and you’ll end up with a time-consuming messy-looking rivet.
    Trim excess off the rivet's pin

    Cut excess

    Not sure how to make flush (smooth, straight) cuts? See Tips for cutting wire with straight ends.

  4. If necessary, file the end smooth and flat.
  5. Place the assembled layers rivet-head down on a wooden block.

    Parts assembled on block - ready to rivet

    Ready to flare the rivet!

  6. Using the flat side of the riveting hammer or 4-oz ballpein hammer, tap a few times on the top of the wire post. This starts flaring the wire.
    Hammering too hard at this point, will bend your rivet. Bent rivets are rarely recoverable.
  7. Hammer the wire gently in an outward, circular motion: you need to spread the metal outwards into a mushroom head, rather than smashing it straight downward. Think about the compass points as you tap around in a circle– North tap, North tap, East tap, East tap, South, South, West, West, repeat. As the rivet spreads and shortens, you can hammer harder.

    Flaring or mushrooming the rivet

    Flaring the rivet

  8. When it is nicely rounded and looks done, run your thumb around the edges of the rivet — if it feels rough, keep hammering.

    Smooth domed rivet

    Smooth domed rivet

This riveting process works for Vintaj nail-head brass rivets as well as the fancy decorative rivets. (It works great for 1/16″ and 3/32″ semi-tubular rivets too. Just be sure to punch a 1/16″ or 3/32″ hole instead of a 1.25mm hole.)

Examples of unfinished or not-quite-right rivets:

Rivet - almost done

This rivet is almost done. It feels sharp / rough to the touch where you can see the shadow near the bottom. The sheets of metal are also a bit loose; both are clues you need to keep tap-tap-tapping!

Deformed rivet (too long)

This rivet’s pin was cut a bit too long. Not only does it take longer to flare an over-long pin (more metal to push around), it can work-harden and split like this. It is still secure, but not as attractive.

The finished riveted bracelet!

Falling Leaves Bracelet

The finished, riveted bracelet!
For a tutorial on turning these paisley charms into leaves, see Falling Leaves bracelet tutorial.

How to hide mistakes:

Riveted Accent

Riveted Accent – this rivet is purely decorative. (Actually, it covers a mistake. I got carried away and punched an extra hole … which then needed to get hidden.)

A tutorial with decorative flower rivets:

Poppy Girl riveted necklace

Poppy Girl Necklace by Mollie Valente – See full tutorial.


To learn more about traditional wire riveting, download our (free!) Riveting Techniques PDF (#68-007-12).

Or try these great books:




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  • maryanne swan March 25, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Discovered this sight when trying to find out what I was doing wrong on using the decorative eyelet/rivots on cards. I think this is my new favorite sight…so informative. Thanks!!