Riveting is a fast, no heat way of connecting components.  But finding the center of metal blanks can be tricky. So this tutorial shows you how to use a center finder to make riveted earrings.  Finding the true center especially of round metal blanks is much easier with this simple carpenter's tool. All kinds of components - bead caps, rondelles, small metal blanks, can all be used to stack up unique designs.

What you need :

  • Metal blanks -  I used both raw metal and patinated *
  • Compression rivets* 
  • Bead caps, rondelles, small filigrees, small metal blanks etc
  • Hammer
  • 1.8 mm hole puncher
  • Sharp pencil
  • Center finder (Euro Center Locator Tool)*
  • 4 mm rivet setter (optional)
  • Metal block to hammer on
Optional materials for Patina work
  • Gun Blue or Liver of Sulfur 
  • #0000 steel wool
*These were supplied by Goody Beads

How to Use a Center Finder

The center finder tool has two sets of ridges at 90 degrees on one side and at 60 degrees on the other. You can use either side for round blanks.  Just place the round blank firmly against the two ridges. 

While still holding the blank against the tool, flip it over and use a pencil to make a line against the edge which denotes the diameter.  You don't have to draw a line from edge to edge. Rotate the blank and make another mark.

I found it more accurate to make 3 lines to mark the center.  It makes sense to use sharp pencils as broad lines will lead to inaccuracies.

The flower blank is just a modified circle so do the same as for round blanks.  But I think I have to be extra careful and maybe place one petal into the corner where the ridges meet.  I was slightly off center for the flower blanks as you can see from one of the images below.  So I repunched the hole i.e. made it a bit bigger towards what should have been the center of the blank.

You don't really need this tool for squares as you can just get the center by drawing diagonals.  Note that the 60 degree side of the tool cannot be used for squares (unless you are coming up with off center designs).  One corner needs to be wedged into the corresponding corner of the tool.

One word of warning. Do not use marker pens on patinated discs. They are difficult to get off - they do not rub off and mild solvents like isopropanol didn't work and removed some of the patina!!  I found that out the hard way.

How to Make Riveted Earrings

Once the centers of the blanks were located, it was time for the hole puncher to get into action. There were tiny burrs which I didn't bother to remove as the rivet would be covering them.  If you are using filigrees with small or no holes in the center, make holes in them too.  If there are big bits of metal sticking out after you punch, cut or sand them off.

Compression rivets are easy to use but you must have enough stacked components so the fill up most of the height of the rivet. If not, the rivet will end up crooked after hammering. So I stacked 2 components each for the copper and the patinated earrings.

Notice the lines in the top left large square blank?  That was made by the marker pen I used it.  I could remove the marker pen ink but my heavy hand with the pen carved out those lines on the soft metal. So take care!

Take the flat top part of the rivet pair and put it through all the stacked components from behind. In order to fill up the rivet, I used smaller rondelles on top of the filigrees for the dark earrings. Only a little of the rivet should be left showing.

I used bead caps for the brass flower earrings.  As the bead caps were somewhat domed, there was no need to add more components.

Optional Texturing

I like to add texture to metal blanks as it is not just a design element; the texture hides any surface imperfections.  The easiest way is to hammer away using the round part of the hammer.

I used a cross hatched texture hammer for the angular marks on the square copper blanks.

Rivet Setter vs No Rivet setter

The rivet setter has a concave part at its tip which preserves the domed front of the rivet.

Place the dome top of the rivet over the stacked bottom part. I sometimes feel a snap as the two halves of the rivet connect. If you're using the rivet setter, then just place it over the dome and hammer until the two halves are connected firmly and nothing moves.

You can still rivet even if you don't have the setter.  Just hammer the connected halves together. The dome effect will vanish though as you can see in the close up of the dark filigree adorned earrings below.

Optional Patination

I now prefer to use Gun Blue - a really easy, quick, no odor method of turning copper dark in just seconds -see my past post Gun Blue vs Liver of Sulfur Patination. (Also recommended is Liver of Sulfur Gel which is stabilized and doesn't go off) After punching out holes for the ear wires, I used some scrap wire to help dunk the square hammer blanks into the solution. Then rinsed it in the clean water ready in the bowl on the right. Blot dry with some paper towels.

Use the #0000 steel wool to buff away the patination leaving the dark colors in the indentations. I only lightly hammered the small metal squares.

Enjoy making your own riveted earrings!

All photography was taken on my iPhone 5 with the camera+ app in natural light using the Modahaus Tabletop Studio.  Click here to find out more about my How to Photograph Jewelry Webinar series.

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