Exploring Metal Jewelry: Riveting With Escutcheon Pins
Tracy Stanley loves to rivet in her unique jewelry designs. It’s her go-to method for joining metal together and you’ll rarely see her soldering. In her book, Exploring Metal Jewelry, she takes you step-by-step through 4 different riveting techniques: with wire, with premade rivets, with eyelets, and with escutcheon pins.
Oh, you didn’t sneeze? You were just trying to figure out how to pronounce escutcheon? If it sounded like a sneeze, you probably got it right.
WHAT ARE ESCUTCHEON PINS?
Escutcheon pins are brass or brass-plated nails that you purchase at the hardware store and they can be an interesting alternative to traditional premade rivets. Usually smaller hardware stores carry the best supply of these and you’ll find them in the upholstery section. Look for size 16, 1″ (2.5 cm) in length, they’re perfect for riveting jewelry.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN RIVETING WITH ESCUTCHEON PINS
These pins are extremely hard and need to be cut with heavy-duty cutters. You’ll also need a riveting hammer because the metal is so strong that nothing else will do. Why would you want to use such a thing? One reason is they are the perfect solution to a piece that needs support. They also give a piece an industrial look and are just plain cool! But they can be tough to rivet, so practice before you go for it on a piece you are making.
HOW TO RIVET WITH ESCUTCHEON PINS
- 1.6 mm hole punch
- Bench block and pad
- Heavy-duty cutters
- Nylon mallet
- Riveting hammer
- 24-gauge copper
- Sheet metal
- Escutcheon pin, size 16
1. Punch a hole in the metal. Insert the escutcheon pin into the hole. Note: Sometimes the hole will feel a bit small for these. If needed, use a plastic mallet to strike the end of the pin to help it through.
2.. Place the piece on the block with the pinhead side down (Fig. 1).
SAFETY FIRST: Before you cut an escutcheon pin, make sure you are holding on to the end of the pin with your other hand. It is very important that you don’t let the end fly as you trim!
3. Place the flush end of the heavy-duty cutters as close to the metal as possible. The goal is to cut the pin so there is very little left above the metal (Fig. 2).
4. Squeeze the cutters to cut off the end. If there is much of the pin sticking out of the hole, trim off the extra before starting to rivet (Fig. 3).
5. Strike the cut end of the pin with the narrow end of the riveting hammer. It will take longer than the wire or premade rivet, so be patient (Fig. 4).
6. Flip the hammer over and strike with the flat side to spread the end. Repeat until the rivet is down flat and smooth.
HOLDING YOUR RIVETING HAMMER
It is important to hold the riveting hammer correctly. It doesn’t matter what type of rivet you are doing, how you hold the hammer is the same. Hold the hammer by the end of the handle; don’t choke up on the handle. Next, make sure that your grip is gentle—no white knuckles! Tracy says it all the time, but it bears repeating. You should have the same pressure on the handle as if you are holding a baby bird. As you start to rivet, the hammer should move in your hand. Never put a finger out on the handle as you hammer. You may think it helps your aim, but it cuts the force of the hammer in half!
WHERE TO CUT
My best advice for escutcheon rivets is make sure the hole is a tight fit and cut the pin so short that you think you may have gone too far. What’s the worst that happens? The pin falls out and you start again. What’s the worst that can happen if you cut it too long? It takes forever to rivet, and you may damage the piece.
Now that you know how to rivet with escutcheon pins, I bet you’re looking for some inspiration as to what you can make. Loads of beautiful inspiring projects fill the pages of Exploring Metal Jewelry. Grab your copy today and see these rivets, along with a variety of cold connection techniques.
Editorial Director, Books
Grab your hammer, some sheet metal, and these great resources for more on riveting!