Different Types of Leather Rivets and Their Uses

Leather rivets are metal fasteners used in securing multiple layers of leather. They are made from materials such as copper, brass, aluminum, and steel. Leather rivets come in various types:  Single cap, double cap, tubular rivets, chaton, split, etc.

Rivets generally contain a factory head, a post, and a cap. These components are compressed together to create a secured lock within the leather. Depending on the rivet style and size, the outcome of this compression may serve a decorative purpose or a more strengthening purpose.

Read on to learn about the different types of rivets and their uses in more detail.

types of rivets

What Are The Rivets And Its Purpose?

Rivets are metal studs used to connect separate parts of a leather. They act as a binder that helps to strengthen weaker points. Aesthetically, Rivets contribute to how appealing a leather product can be. And when well-crafted, it does wonders for any leatherwork. This makes them an invaluable tool in leather crafting.

Are you wondering why you can’t seem to overlook a leather belt on the road? It might just be the work or a well-crafted rivet.

In the multi-functional department, Rivets offers both strength and design qualities. This makes them useful in different applications.

As stress busters, rivets reduce tension in areas very susceptible to stress.  Dog collars are a good example here. Rivets in dog collars protect against strain from constant tugging and dragging. Many bag designers also use rivets to lessen stress’s impact around bag handles and pocket areas.

Rivets are created from different materials. They include metals like Copper and aluminum and metal alloys such as Brass, steel, and Nickel. While Brass is referred to as the most durable material for Rivets, copper is the most commonly used. Copper is a common choice due to its cheap access and overall strengthening properties.

The standard structure of a rivet is a head, a body, and a tail. The top/head side expands as the rivet gets hammered into the leather. Next is a compression of the top and bottom sides to create a secured lock-in within the leather.

Many types of rivets have different lengths and diameter sizes. For instance, Tubular rivets are appreciated in industrial applications due to their wider cylindrical body and unparalleled strength. On the other hand, a single-cap rivet is much lighter and is ideal for aesthetics. Nonetheless, the thickness of the leather determines what kind of rivets for leather to use.

Different types of leather rivets and uses.

Leather rivets come in different types and styles. Each type of rivet has qualities that define its strengths and purpose. It may be the reason why a rivet is used for decorative purposes rather than in heavy-duty applications. Some common types of leather rivets include single cap rivets, double-cap rivets, tubular rivets, copper rivets, split rivets, chaton rivets, and so on.

tandy leather rivets

Single Cap Rivets

Single-cap rivets are very common in leather crafting. They offer so much versatility and are good for adding a decorative accent to your leather. Single-cap or Rapid rivets are also good for setting multiple layers of leather together. However, they are relegated to light-use applications. You would likely see a single-cap rivet being used in belts, bags, harness leather, collars, etc.

Single Cap rivets are strong and sturdy. They are commonly used in leather areas where only the rivet head will be visible. (i.e., Buckle area of a belt.). If you own a leather tote bag, chances are that a single cap rivet holds the handles of your bag in place.

The process of installing a single cap rivet is straightforward. First, you puncture a hole into the leather. Next, you insert the rivet through the hole.  Now, you set the cap side of the rivet onto the leather and hammer the cap into place using a rivet setter. The cap side should flatten around the leather to form a hollow tube.

As the rule of thumb, the length of the rivet barrow (body) should be about ⅛ inch longer than the total thickness of the leather. It could be less. However, if the length of the post is way below ⅛ inch, the rivet won’t crumple right. Likewise, the rivet will be crookedly installed if the post is above your leather.

Double Cap Rivets

Designed to withstand heavy-duty application, Double cap rivets are considered the better rivet choice. It edges over single cap rivets in strength and durability.

As the name implies, Double Cap rivets contain two separate heads hammered together. The two heads reinforce each other and provide the leather with an extra layer of sturdiness.

Double cap rivets offer an aesthetically pleasing finish.  Both the top and the bottom area of the rivet retain their round appearance despite hammering.  This makes double cap a better option to put in places where both sides of the rivets need to show.

The installation process is similar to that of a single rivet. First, you use a leather rivet press or a hole puncher to create a hole in the leather. The hole should be big enough to hold the rivet without falling off. Then, you join both heads through the hole and hit together.

Double cap rivets use a special setting plate to ensure both ends retain roundness. Something similar to a mushroom finish.

If you want a flattened bottom, hit the rivets without a setting plate.

Tubular Rivets

Tubular rivets have a post thicker than that of a single or double-cap rivet. This makes them well sought after in industrial applications and as heavy-duty rivets for leather. Unsurprisingly, you would likely find tubular rivets used as metal fasteners for heavy-duty leather projects.

Tubular rivets are hollow, so when compressed, they cram together and stay together. The post ends get secured in place, forming a starfish or flower bloom design.

We have three tubular rivets for leather. They include Semi-tubular rivets, full tubular rivets, and compression tubular rivets.

Tubular rivets are uniquely designed to make way for installation without a pre-punctured hole in the leather. Tubular rivets easily punch through leather, leaving a starfish seal behind. You can also use a metal hammer for mushroom ends or Poly Mallets to prevent mushrooming.

Copper rivets

Copper rivets are a really strong way to combine two pieces of leather material. It has a nice overall look with a clean, traditional finish. Copper rivets are considered the strongest leather rivets in this list.

When we talk about copper rivets, we’re actually talking about a couple of things. Essential, the head of the rivet, the post, and the purr.   As earlier stated, the hole in the leather should be smaller than the diameter of the post. In essence, the hole should big enough to fit over the tapered end of the post but be too narrow to slide over the entire post.

How do you install copper rivets for leather? First, the post is inserted into the hole in the leather, and the purr is set on top of the leather. A setter tool is used to push the burr down over the post. Any excess material is clipped away with an end-cutting nipper. You want to leave at least ⅛ inch of the material. The remnant material is then malled with a pinning tool. As it broadens, it forms a mushroom towards the side to provide a holding power for the stack of leather. If you want a doming look, ensure to use a doming tool while hitting the lead of the copper rivet.

Chaton Rivets

People classify chaton as the decorative rivets for leather. Their factory head is adorned with precious stones, crystals, gems, and even glass.

Chaton rivets can be used as a decorative element in clothes, mini dog collars, horse bridles, shoes, etc.

How do you choose the right rivets for your leather works?

First and foremost, every leather-type rivet has its pros and cons. Thus, to make an informed decision, You need to consider three main things.

  • The quality of the rivet;
  • Affordability (pricing), and
  • Ease of use.

The material used for rivets has a way of impacting quality. For example, a rivet made from brass may be more durable than its steel or copper counterpart due to the inability of brass to oxidize. If you are more interested in the rivet’s strength, no other material comes close to copper.

Before using rivets, you must also determine their purpose in your leather work- whether for decoration or support.  This can help you narrow your choice to single cap, double cap, tubular, or split rivets.

Finally,  remember to measure the thickness of the joined material. Optimally, the length of the post shouldn’t exceed 3mm or ⅛ inch from the leather’s surface. Note: Rivets with burr washers are an exception here. They work irrespective of the post length as long as they pass through the leather and the burr washer can be pressed down on it.

Final Words

Every leatherworker should have rivets in their tool kits. Aside from saving work time, rivets joins materials in areas where leather stitching is difficult. Ever since Jacob W. Davis invented the marvel of rivets in clothing, we have witnessed many clothes – jeans in particular, endure some of the harshest conditions while remaining pristine.

Rivets create room to exercise creativity when working with leather. All you need to harness this creativity is your working tools and a vivid imagination.

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