Riveted Joints

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Forged steel bed with riveted joinery Stair balustrade with copper rivets and bronze spacers Garden gate with steel rivets

Whilst rivets have traditionally been used by blacksmiths to make strong and secure joinery, they can also serve as a design feature in their own right.

Holes are first punched or drilled in the pieces of metal to be joined. These are then clamped together and a rivet inserted through the holes. One end of the rivet is supported by a heavy piece of metal called a bucking bar and the other end is then hammered flat, or domed over, to about one and a half times the width of the rivet body. A rivet is usually inserted hot and the hammering causes it to swell up inside the holes which takes up any slack. Additionally, the rivet will shrink as it cools down and this causes it to pull together the pieces being joined. As a result, a rivet makes a very strong and tight joint.

Many forms can be used for rivet heads, ranging from domed through to hammered flat but they can also be shaped in very expressive ways as the bed frame in the example above shows. Rivets can be used very effectively when they contrast with the pieces of metal to be joined.