Whilst rivets have traditionally been used by
blacksmiths to make strong and secure joinery, they can
also be used as a design feature in their own right.
Holes are first punched or drilled in the pieces of metal being joined. They are then clamped together and a rivet inserted through these 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. The rivet is usually inserted hot and the hammering causses it to swell up inside the holes which takes up any play. 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 stong 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 metal being joined.