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I currently use #9 solid copper rivets with burrs, but I would like to switch to solid brass tubular rivets for the finished look and to match my brass zippers.  I've never used tubular rivets before, and I'm having an impossible time finding solid brass ones that aren't tiny.  The only solid brass tubular rivets I can find are at buckleguy and weaver, both of which seem to be very small. 

 

I'm looking for something more the size of #9 solid copper rivets, to be used for attaching 1 inch wide 10oz bridle straps to canvas.  Weaver has the #103 rivets which are a little larger, but only in nickel plated brass, and they've discontinued the die for setting those anyway.

 

So where the heck do you guys get your solid brass tubular rivets in larger sizes?  And what do you use to set them?  Or do they not even exist in larger sizes because they're not meant to be load bearing?  I'm willing to spend the money on a good press, if I could just find the rivets I need.

Thanks!

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I would like to know the answer to this as well.  I have gotten some from a couple different sources, and all that was different was the heads were larger; the diameter of the shank was the same as the #104 rivets.  Weaver's #103 rivets don't come longer than 1/2", and I'd like some at least 3/4".  I see a lot of the type of rivets you are looking for on older horse collars,  which is also the application I need them for.  While I can get the smaller diameter rivets in a length that is long enough, they usually bend when trying to set them, because the shank diameter is too small for the length.  Getting a setter is a whole separate problem.  I ordered one from Weaver a couple years ago.  When it came, the driver was nowhere near long enough to work.  They sent me a new driver, and I still had to put a chunk of cut-off bolt up in the head of the press to make it work.  I am using the MT900, and the setter was supposed to be made to fit the machine.  The whole ordeal was frustrating beyond belief.

Beilers lists a #2 rivet with a 3/8" head and 3/16" diam shank, 5/8" length in SB.  While that is not long enough for my application, it may work for you.  They also offer the newer shallow-drilled rivets in a variety of lengths and sizes, but only in SS.  These rivets take a special setter, which they also sell.  I have not used these yet, although I am seeing them on some new manufactured harness. 

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Usual story; I get mine from China via ebay. The largest I've needed to buy was 12mm head and 15mm shank, 4mm diameter shank, double headed. I regularly use double head 8, 9 and 10mm head, 8mm long shank, 3 or 3.2 mm diameter shank

For setting; I got a multi-plate with several sizes of shallow domes for the bottom side. Again from china area, setter bars with an appropriate shallow dome to match the rivet head

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34 minutes ago, fredk said:

Usual story; I get mine from China via ebay. The largest I've needed to buy was 12mm head and 15mm shank, 4mm diameter shank, double headed. I regularly use double head 8, 9 and 10mm head, 8mm long shank, 3 or 3.2 mm diameter shank

For setting; I got a multi-plate with several sizes of shallow domes for the bottom side. Again from china area, setter bars with an appropriate shallow dome to match the rivet head

I've tried searching ebay but I can only find larger tubular rivets in plated steel.  Are you using brass?  Also, I understand the varying sizes of domes for the bottom of the rivet.  But how do you find an appropriate die for the top where it mushrooms out?  I'm not sure if this is a stupid question; I've never set tubular rivets before.

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1 hour ago, Big Sioux Saddlery said:

I would like to know the answer to this as well.  I have gotten some from a couple different sources, and all that was different was the heads were larger; the diameter of the shank was the same as the #104 rivets.  Weaver's #103 rivets don't come longer than 1/2", and I'd like some at least 3/4".  I see a lot of the type of rivets you are looking for on older horse collars,  which is also the application I need them for.  While I can get the smaller diameter rivets in a length that is long enough, they usually bend when trying to set them, because the shank diameter is too small for the length.  Getting a setter is a whole separate problem.  I ordered one from Weaver a couple years ago.  When it came, the driver was nowhere near long enough to work.  They sent me a new driver, and I still had to put a chunk of cut-off bolt up in the head of the press to make it work.  I am using the MT900, and the setter was supposed to be made to fit the machine.  The whole ordeal was frustrating beyond belief.

Beilers lists a #2 rivet with a 3/8" head and 3/16" diam shank, 5/8" length in SB.  While that is not long enough for my application, it may work for you.  They also offer the newer shallow-drilled rivets in a variety of lengths and sizes, but only in SS.  These rivets take a special setter, which they also sell.  I have not used these yet, although I am seeing them on some new manufactured harness. 

Thanks for the tips.  Is that Byler Rivet Supply?  I wasn't able to find solid brass on their site. 

There seems to be several companies in the US that will make custom tubular rivets to whatever specification is needed.  Who knows what the minimum order is.  Some type of group buy could work, but the problem is that it might be unlikely to find several people who all need the same rivet metal finish/head size/shank size/diameter/head shape, etc.  But at least a custom ordered rivet would be a known and consistent quality.  Even if you had to get a die custom made, it would be nice to have a source of rivets and be done with it.

 

I can relate to the frustration, and I haven't even spent money on actual rivets yet.  It seems like even if I find exactly what I'm looking for, I may get it and find it to be poor quality.  And even if I find something that works, and the quality is good, the source will likely be gone by the next time I need to order more, leaving me back at square one.  I think a custom order may be worth looking into for these reasons.

 

Since you have experience with the #104 rivets, would you say they're pretty strong?  Almost comparable to #14 solid rivets with burrs?  I really just need the rivets to take the lateral force of the strap being pulled in different directions.  There will be machine stitching for a couple inches of the strap, with a rivet on the end.  I may try putting two #104 rivets side by side on a 1 inch strap, right above the stitching.  Do you think its unreasonable to expect these rivets to handle this?    Its for handle straps for heavy canvas bags.  Nothing like the forces put on the stuff you make I'm sure.

 

Thanks for all the help!

 

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8 minutes ago, trailrunner said:

Thanks for the tips.  Is that Byler Rivet Supply?  I wasn't able to find solid brass on their site. 

There seems to be several companies in the US that will make custom tubular rivets to whatever specification is needed.  Who knows what the minimum order is.  Some type of group buy could work, but the problem is that it might be unlikely to find several people who all need the same rivet metal finish/head size/shank size/diameter/head shape, etc.  But at least a custom ordered rivet would be a known and consistent quality.  Even if you had to get a die custom made, it would be nice to have a source of rivets and be done with it.

 

I can relate to the frustration, and I haven't even spent money on actual rivets yet.  It seems like even if I find exactly what I'm looking for, I may get it and find it to be poor quality.  And even if I find something that works, and the quality is good, the source will likely be gone by the next time I need to order more, leaving me back at square one.  I think a custom order may be worth looking into for these reasons.

 

Since you have experience with the #104 rivets, would you say they're pretty strong?  Almost comparable to #14 solid rivets with burrs?  I really just need the rivets to take the lateral force of the strap being pulled in different directions.  There will be machine stitching for a couple inches of the strap, with a rivet on the end.  I may try putting two #104 rivets side by side on a 1 inch strap, right above the stitching.  Do you think its unreasonable to expect these rivets to handle this?    Its for handle straps for heavy canvas bags.  Nothing like the forces put on the stuff you make I'm sure.

 

Thanks for all the help!

 

The supplier I'm referring to is Beiler's Mfg and Supply in PA.  They will not have a website, as they are Amish.  They do have a telephone though, and take credit cards over the phone as well.  I believe they are wholesale only, so you will need a tax ID number to set up an account with them.  They handle mostly equine-related hardware and supplies.  Their number is 717-656-2179. 

I think the strength of the #104 would be fine for  your application, as long as the straps are stitched also.  In that case, the rivets mostly keep the ends from lifting and coming unstitched.  There are many places in harness construction where a simple #104 rivet is used for the same purpose.  I am thinking however, a larger head and larger area of contact on the back side would be better if used for fastening the straps to a bag, even if used just for reinforcement along with stitching.  I have two heavy tool bags that came in the shop just yesterday for the very reason that the rivets pulled through the material, due to the "splashed" part of the rivet not covering enough area.  I would not put two rivets side by side on a one inch strap. I feel that is taking too much material out of the width of the piece, weakening it considerably.  Sometimes I will use two #104 rivets side by side on a 1-1/8" strap, when turned back around a buckle and riveted, but rarely if ever on a 1" strap.

The way you have been doing it, with the #9 solid copper rivets, may be the best option.  It provides the larger head size, and the strength.  Weaver does offer a solid brass #9 rivet with burrs, that would match your hardware.  Solid brass is more difficult to set than copper though.  They have them in both #9 and #12.  The #12 is a nice in-between size, and I use a fair number of them in copper.

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29 minutes ago, trailrunner said:

I've tried searching ebay but I can only find larger tubular rivets in plated steel.  Are you using brass?  Also, I understand the varying sizes of domes for the bottom of the rivet.  But how do you find an appropriate die for the top where it mushrooms out?  I'm not sure if this is a stupid question; I've never set tubular rivets before.

2. Unless we are calling different rivets by the same name; the tube is hollow and spreads out inside the head. The setter for the top end is just a mild steel bar with a shallow dome in the end. When you whack it the head drives down and the tube spreads out inside it. If your stem tube is too long there isn't room inside the head so the stem bends to one side - job messed up, pull rivet out and try again. If the stem is too short it just doesn't spread and is no good

1. yes, I'm using brass - I usually only ever use brass, very rarely use any iron/steel hardware. The good sellers will say what their base metal is. I usually buy plated brass, eg 'bronzed', 'gun metal'

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1 hour ago, fredk said:

Usual story; I get mine from China via ebay. The largest I've needed to buy was 12mm head and 15mm shank, 4mm diameter shank, double headed. I regularly use double head 8, 9 and 10mm head, 8mm long shank, 3 or 3.2 mm diameter shank

For setting; I got a multi-plate with several sizes of shallow domes for the bottom side. Again from china area, setter bars with an appropriate shallow dome to match the rivet head

I did something similar for the rivets I use for dog leads, among other products. The rivets need to very securely set through 8mm of leather. I had used up what little UK stock there was of 12x12mm DC solid brass. Nobody I spoke with wanted to or was able to obtain something similar so I went to Alibaba and contacted a few factories. TLDR I got a shipment of 10mm head 12mm shank DC solid brass without too much fuss. All communication was in English. The smaller head actually looks neater and these are a much better unit price than for the 12x12s. Minimum order was 1,000 rivets.

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Thats a good small minimum order. I usually buy in 500 to 1000 at a time anyways

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Matt S, thanks for the information about ordering direct from China.  Seems like way less hassle than I thought it would be.  I may look into that eventually.  Being able to just order exactly what I need and have them make it would be pretty nice.  No more wild goose chase.

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4 hours ago, Big Sioux Saddlery said:

The supplier I'm referring to is Beiler's Mfg and Supply in PA.  They will not have a website, as they are Amish.  They do have a telephone though, and take credit cards over the phone as well.  I believe they are wholesale only, so you will need a tax ID number to set up an account with them.  They handle mostly equine-related hardware and supplies.  Their number is 717-656-2179. 

I think the strength of the #104 would be fine for  your application, as long as the straps are stitched also.  In that case, the rivets mostly keep the ends from lifting and coming unstitched.  There are many places in harness construction where a simple #104 rivet is used for the same purpose.  I am thinking however, a larger head and larger area of contact on the back side would be better if used for fastening the straps to a bag, even if used just for reinforcement along with stitching.  I have two heavy tool bags that came in the shop just yesterday for the very reason that the rivets pulled through the material, due to the "splashed" part of the rivet not covering enough area.  I would not put two rivets side by side on a one inch strap. I feel that is taking too much material out of the width of the piece, weakening it considerably.  Sometimes I will use two #104 rivets side by side on a 1-1/8" strap, when turned back around a buckle and riveted, but rarely if ever on a 1" strap.

The way you have been doing it, with the #9 solid copper rivets, may be the best option.  It provides the larger head size, and the strength.  Weaver does offer a solid brass #9 rivet with burrs, that would match your hardware.  Solid brass is more difficult to set than copper though.  They have them in both #9 and #12.  The #12 is a nice in-between size, and I use a fair number of them in copper.

Thanks for that information.  I may give Beiler's a call.

That's a huge help about the #104 rivets.  I kind of suspected it wasn't a good idea to put them side by side.  That saves me a bunch of time and money.  I'm going to try out the solid brass #9 rivets so it matches my other hardware.  It seems that when people complain about the brass being hard to set, they're referring to actually cutting the excess rivet off.  I got a pair of end cutters made in Germany.  The brand is NWS, and they cut through #9 copper rivets like they're almost not even there, so it shouldn't have too much trouble with the brass.  Highly recommend them.

 

Thanks for all the help!

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1 hour ago, trailrunner said:

It seems that when people complain about the brass being hard to set, they're referring to actually cutting the excess rivet off.

The challenge with brass rivets is trying to make a nice shop formed head. Copper can be domed pretty easily, but brass doesn’t move around nearly as easy. 

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53 minutes ago, 480volt said:

The challenge with brass rivets is trying to make a nice shop formed head. Copper can be domed pretty easily, but brass doesn’t move around nearly as easy. 

That makes sense.  The reason I want to move away from solid rivets with burrs is because I want a more finished look.  If the solid brass ones aren't any more clean looking than the solid copper, then that's a bummer.  I've seen pictures of really old solid copper rivets that someone found a box of, and the flat side looked really nice; perfectly smooth.  The ones today are all rough, so putting the flat side facing out doesn't look any better.  In fact it looks worse in my opinion.    

 

It just seems like the quality of hardware is not what it used to be, and that makes all of our jobs a lot harder.  Quality buckles luckily are readily available, but there's a giant black hole when it comes to quality, nicely finished rivets in various sizes.  I think a custom order from alibaba is the only option for those of us looking for larger tubular rivets in solid brass.

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