Soldering is a quick and easy method for joining metals. But sometimes two metals require a connection for which soldering is not an option. Rivets or cold connections are the perfect answer and can add a striking detail to your construction. Traditionally, a riveting hammer is used to form the rivets.

While it’s a tool many of us have in our shop, it is rarely used for its intended purpose because its profile often makes it difficult to see the rivet you’re making. Also, the tool’s riveting face is too close to the metal when struck and can easily mar the surface. However, you can easily fabricate your own riveting tools with supplies you may already have on hand: a twisted wire nail (for creating the rivet) and a square slate roof nail (for planishing the rivet).

With a blue marker, mark a line at the top of the wire nail head. Continue the line down the sides of the nail, maintaining the line as parallel as possible.
With a bench grinder, carve the point on the twisted wire nail until it is even and rounded on both sides. Push the wire nail into the grinder at about a 45? angle. Then push the slate roof nail directly into the grinder and remove about ? inch from the tip. Wear safety glasses during this step as sparks will fly!
To refine the wire nail, use a Scotchbrite Unitized wheel and roll the wire nail back and forth to create a long curved point. Gently push the tip back into the wheel until you have just barely flattened it. With the same wheel, clean up the tip of the roof nail, making it as flat as possible. Dress all the sides on the tip flat so no burs remain.
Polish both with Zam.
To create a rivet with your new tools, place the rivet nail onto the flattened rivet head, about 2 mm above the “parent” metal. With a chasing or goldsmithing hammer, strike the nail. The tool will divide the metal partially in half.
Rotate the nail 90° and repeat. This should result in a + on the rivet and a profile of a mushroom shape. Once the rivet is sufficiently formed, file the rivet flat and use the roof nail to planish it to perfection.