Saturday, November 25, 2017

A beginners guide to double cap rivets & wristlet straps

Many budding bagineers (love that word!) are terrified of rivets before they've even tried them (so was I!) and some after having made a few failed attempts where the rivets come in wonky or bent - swear to never use them again. Which is why I saw the need for:

A beginners guide to double cap rivets

First and foremost you need the right tools for the job, something to make a hole for your rivets with like a hole punch or hole making pliers, a suitably sized rivet setter, a slightly curved anvil and a hammer. You actually don't need anymore expensive tools than this to set rivets prettily.

After having gathered your tools, you need to choose the right rivet for the job, and here this comes down to the length of the post of the rivet mainly.  Many people whom have tried using rivets and failed, have done so due to using a rivet with too long a post for the job. Resulting in bent posts and wonky looking rivets.

These three sizes where the ones I considered for my strap. As you can see, they only really differ in length with 1/16th of an inch generally, however, it makes all the difference!

Line up your possible rivet choices and take the part of the bag you're going to rivet, in my case that is a wristlet strap for a glitter vinyl Bring the Basics Bag. I made this strap exactly like in the pattern but made it about 16" long due to the raw edges when using vinyl and this method.

I fold up the fabric like it will be when I set the rivet and use this to measure out how long my rivet post needs to be, press your fabric together firmly when measuring as that's how it will be once we set the rivet. Like in the photo, the tip of the rivet should only precisely be sticking out. So for this job, the 3/8" long post was the right one to use, however I only rarely get to use such long rivets, the smallest post (4mm) is the one I use most often.

Next we make holes for our rivets, use your favorite tool, I'm making a strap so I threaded on my swivel snap hook and placed a hole 1/4" from the edge the strap, I knew I wanted my swivel snap hook 1" in from the edge so the next hole was made 1 3/4" from the end of the strap to get them at the same distance. Thread on your swivel snap hook.

Next I made the hole on the other end of the strap, this one will be placed between these two in the fold like in the second photo so this last hole was placed about 3/8" from the other end.

Next put your single hole end in between the two holes one each side of your snap hook and push through the rivet. This shouldn't be super easy, then the post is too long! Push it up and through like in the photo and then press on the little cap part of the rivet. Press until you hear/feel a click and the rivet cap stays in place without you holding it.

On the floor or table place your cutting mat (will absorb impact and protect the surface) and on top of it your little anvil. Place your rivet in the anvil and on top of it place your rivet setter. If you're working with rivets with a sensitive finish such as gold, gunmetal rivets or similar I recommend that you place a piece of scrap vinyl, foam or similar over and under it to ensure you don't accidentally scratch the rivet when you set it.  

Firmly and decisively (but not too forcefully!) tap the rivet setter with the hammer to permanently set the rivet. It's actually this easy! Just pick the right size rivet with a correct size post and you don't risk those bent and wonky rivets! If you feel uncertain about the amount of force to use, try it a few times on a folded up scrap. 

Voila! One very pretty wrist strap!


  1. Thanks for this post. Do you have a photo of your setter? Mine always seem to come out dimpled, even though I use a cup, so I'm wondering if the setter I ordered is the wrong one. (The side I am tapping the setter into is what dimples). Thanks!

    1. Hi Meg, unfortunately you're a no-reply comment blogger so I couldn't reply to you in an email to make sure you got it, so I'll try here hoping you'll pop by again =)

      I'm afraid I'm out travelling atm and I don't have my rivet setter with me, howwever, it looks like this one, a slightly bowled surface:
      Try placing your rivet in it, if the rivet is very dome shaped and sticks out a lot, that might be the problem.

      But iff you get dimpled ones I'm thinking you might be using a bit too much force when you set them, damaging the top of the rivet. It doesn't require a lot of force to set them really, if you're unsure how much is needed, take some scrap fabric, a suitably sized rivet and press it together, use your fingers only and you'll see it requires quite a lot of force to separate them even at that step usually (it's a little different depending on rivet quality).

      Then take new rivets (the one ones torn apart will be damaged), set them with the tools but using quite a bit less force than you usually use and see if the top stays nice, then try to separate them and see if they stay together even when pulling really hard. If they do, you're good, if not, it might be a tool problem, or a very poor quality rivet possibly.

  2. first off i am a 76 years old man. i have 2 projects i need taken care of. per normal if i want IT done it's mine to get done. that's kuel. anyhoo, you have the knack of telling it simple. most things we do aren't rocket science. however, most things we want done need fineness. talent is involved to. if i make a mistake there is no blaming someone else. YOUR explanations of the primary being the length of the post. that is going to tell me a lot. then i found what i believe to be a (standard)chart which the caps are the first size. it looks to me like that is established by the length of the post? peck, peck, peck. NOT BANG, BANG, WHAM to set your rivets. thanx a heap. i've read dozens, and watched dozens of videos. YOURS is the easiest, the simplest, to the points of riveting. seems like whether one is using 1/8" leather or less that 1/16" whatever. whether one is making a cute little over the shoulder thing or a pouch for several of ones prized carving chisels. it seems to me it all basically the same basic things? THANK YOU, Maria, gene


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