Rivets: Double-Cap Rivets, Rivet & Burrs, and Chicago Screws

If you have tried any of my patterns, you know I love rivets! There are numerous types of rivets that come in various finishes, shapes and sizes. Let's talk a bit about three that we like to use - double-cap rivets, Chicago screws, and rivet and burrs. I have shared some information below followed by a video covering these types and the tools used for setting them. There are many different methods and tools people like to use, but after much trial and error, this is just what I have found works well for me.





Double-Cap Rivets

Double-cap rivets are widely used in bagmaking. Sometimes they are used for decorative purposes, then sometimes to attach and/or reinforce different components on the bag. Double-cap rivets, while not as durable as the Chicago screws or rivet and burrs, can work well when attached properly. A few things we have noted makes getting a good set easier are:


  1. Set your rivets on a hard surface (e.g., concrete, granite slab, hard floor, etc.). This simple thing can make a world of difference, Not are the rivets more likely to set properly when the table isn't wobbling around, but you will find that it requires less pounding to get it set. Side note: This is also the case when setting grommets and snaps.😉

  2. Make your rivet holes the appropriate size for the rivet you are using.

  3. Consider stronger rivets for larger bags (e.g., Gabby or Brooke) or on bags that will likely have heavy contents (e.g. backpacks).

  4. Use the correct type and size setting tools.

  5. Make sure to choose the correct post length (ideally no more than 1/8" to 3/16" above the fabric). If the post is too long, it can bend when setting. On the surface, it may be hard to see that it is bent, but it can lead to the rivet coming apart - particularly if the bag is holding a lot of weight. If the post length is too short, the cap will not click into the groove/notch in the post, which can also lead to the rivet coming apart. The photos below show rivets that are too long and too short.


Chicago Screws

Chicago screws have the same function as double-cap rivets, but they offer a stronger, more durable hold. If you are concerned about the integrity of double-cap rivets (especially when attaching straps), this is a great alternative. Like double-caps, there are two pieces to each Chicago screw - the post and the cap. However, Chicago screws can be attached without special setters and tools - you simply need a screwdriver. Here are some things to help with their successful use:


  1. Do not over-tighten or you could run the risk of them breaking over time.

  2. Choose the right length for your project.

  3. Make the rivet hole the appropriate size. Make the hole as small as possible for the size post you are using.

  4. They make work themselves a bit loose over time, so they may need to be tightened periodically.


Rivet and Burrs

Rivet and burrs are the strongest of the three mentioned here. We use these for almost all of our leather projects. There are some great videos online that cover how these rivets work and how to set them. We cover them briefly in thee video below, and wanted to make note of a few things worth mentioning:


  1. When ordering rivet and burrs, keep in mind the smaller the size number, the thicker the rivet post (e.g., a #9 rivet is larger/thicker than a #12 rivet, and a #12 is larger than #14).

  2. The #9 rivets can be very tough to snip. We recommend something smaller if it is your first time giving them a go (they also come in #12-#14 if you want a thinner post that is easier to set).

  3. Use the appropriate type and size tools for setting or you might get poor results.

  4. IMPORTANT: Set your rivets on a hard and stable surface. We use an anvil on the concrete floor, but any hard surface that is not wobbling about should work (e.g., granite).

In the video below, we set double-cap rivets and rivet and burrs. This is just a quick, informal overview, but there are many great, highly informative videos out there for setting rivets. A quick internet search and you will likely become and immediate expert! Anywho...here is my tidbit on rivet setting. If you have any questions or suggestions, give me yell. Happy sewing!





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