How to use hollow rivets on leather

Written by ryan voss
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Riveting is one of the strongest methods for joining pieces of leather together. The metal rivets used hold up under far more abuse than leather glue or stitching, and will not tear out or damage the leather if used properly. Hollow rivets, which are tubular rather than solid pegs, are not quite as strong as traditional rivets, but are easier to work with and are still very much strong enough for most leatherworking projects.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Leather pieces
  • Hollow leather rivets
  • Rivet washers
  • Leather hole punch
  • Leather rivet setter
  • Mallet

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  1. 1

    Find the right size rivet to use for your project. To do this, measure the width of the pieces of leather you are planning on riveting together. The rivets you use should be only slightly longer (about 1/16 to 1/8-inch) than the combined width of the pieces they will be going through. If the rivets you use are too long, they may fold over rather than setting properly and not provide a permanent fasten, or the leather pieces may simply be joined very loosely and able to swivel around on the rivet. Many rivet materials are widely available; for leather projects, you should generally use brass or copper, as other materials may damage the leather over time.

  2. 2

    Punch one hole through each piece of leather where you plan on placing the rivet. Be careful to punch the hole in the precise spot you want the rivet on both leather pieces, as there is no way to change the location without punching a separate hole. Both holes should be only wide enough for the shaft of your rivet to fit through; any wider may hamper the rivet's ability to hold the leather in place.

  3. 3

    Insert the rivet through both holes and press the leather pieces tightly together. Place a rivet washer, or burr (they may be sold with the rivets or you may need to buy them separately) over the protruding end of the rivet and push it against the leather. Rivets can be used without burrs, but stand a much higher chance of pulling out through the original hole if burrs are not used.

  4. 4

    Set the rivet by placing the concave end of a rivet setter on the end of the rivet and the head of the rivet resting against a hard surface, and striking the other end of the rivet setter with a mallet several times. You may need to adjust the angle of the rivet setter several times to fully set the rivet or to smooth out any sharp protruding edges of the rivet shaft.

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