May 2016 Newsletter

The April meeting started off with Joe Babb demonstrating how to make and use a fire tool called a “slice”.  This is a handy tool for managing your coal fire and it is easy to make.


To make the slice you need a piece of sheet metal about 4.5″ x 3.5″, and a handle to which it gets attached with rivets.  The goal of this demo was to enable members to make their own slice and get the experience of cold riveting.  We used 3/16″ diameter rivets, cutting them to  a length that would give about 2 times the diameter sticking out beyond the surface after passing through both sheet metal and the handle.  The round handles were flattened a bit.  Then two holes were drilled for the rivets.

When you do cold riveting, you start upsetting the end of the rivet with a ball peen hammer.  This action spreads the end of the rivet outwards into a larger circle of material.  At a certain point, the material can be domed using a rivet set.  Where do you get a rivet set?  Let’s make one.shaping-rivet-set

Start off with a piece of tool steel about 1/2″ in diameter.  This can be from an old coil spring or other source.  It won’t be hardened or tempered.  But it needs to be annealed so you can drill a shallow hole in the end to give you a target for the next step.  You need to make a tool whose end has the shape of the rivet head that you want.  You do this either by grinding or a combination of forging and grinding.  You can check your work against a depression made in clay by the rivet you are using.  Then heat up the future rivet set, clamp it in the vise and use the positive tool you just made to deepen and shape the depression in the rivet set that was begun with the drill. deepen-rivet-set This may take a couple of heats to get just the right amount.  Afterwards, use something to relieve the edges of the rivet set so it won’t leave cut marks on the work you rivet.  You also need a bottom tool which is like the rivet set you just made except that it fits in your anvil or vise.



Next meeting is at Bob Curnell’s shop, May 29, at 1:30pm.  Bob always puts on a good demo plus feeds us with snacks and drinks.  Directions will be in the member’s email.

As always, work safe, wear your safety glasses.  If you have any questions send email to