Advice on riveting moving joints

Hi guys.

I've been prototyping some very basic steampunk mechanisms that I'm preparing an Instructable for, and I'm looking for a bit of advice on how to make the moving joints.

The mechanisms are simple, with parts I'm cutting from brass sheet myself. They'll be using joints that I'd like to make reasonably permanent and low profile, yet able to move (elbow joints, for want of a better description). I've not tested it yet, but I've read that putting a piece of paper between the two arms before riveting them (blind/pop rivets) will allow the joint to move once it's fastened together.

I was also considering whether it might be advantageous to put a nylon of teflon washer between them before riveting, instead.

Any advice on whether this type of moving joint would be any good, if it would last with moderate use, whether it would work at all, and what some possible alternatives might be would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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MathewT91 year ago

You can use a Pivot-Nose to make a get clearance between rivet head and sheet. Check Stanley website..Hope this helps.

I have used regular pop rivets for hinges in sheet metal for many products I have designed. We even instruct the factories to use this setup for production...

Get some very thin shim material, like 0.020" (depends on thickness of parts to be joined). Cut a slot in one end of the shim, slot width should just fit around the rivet body, and this shim will be re-usable for all of you rivet-hinges. put your rivet thru the holes in the pieces to be 'hinged', and put your shim in between the 2 parts. Then place a small washer over the end of the rivet that sticks out through the other side of your parts. Crush the rivet as normal. Remove the shim, and your done. The rivet head and washer should be sandwiching the parts, with a tiny bit of clearance from using the shim, and should hinge quite nicely. We use this as a permanent solution on a lot of sheetmetal products we make, so should hold up well.

nerd124 years ago
well, I think putting a piece of paper would be fine, a washer would make a noticeable gap. I need to make a pantograph mechanism, but i don't have rivets. Is there a substitute? It can be a little weak, due to low stress on the pantograph, but can someone suggest a cheap and easily available substitute for rivets? I am going to use thin metal or plastic for the pantograph, and i don't have an anvil or blowtorch.
Nuts and bolts do the same thing as the rivets. You can cut off the excess bolt but it will protude or have a bump on one side. The nut will need to be fastened with a locknut or thread adhesive. If you are really stuck, use those paper fasteners - gold tacks with the leg that splits and folds out.
I tried to find nuts and bolts, but all the hardware store here have minimum 3-4 mm thickness, and i need 2mm, preferably 1mm. Getting nuts and bolts in such a tiny size is tough, if even possible.
Pop rivet guns/tools are fairly inexpensive $10-20 for the installation tool and rivets. All you need to do is drill a hole to fit the pop rivet.
do you get them that small?
ojimon5 years ago
Hi ... I have a similar question, though I'm not specifically trying to join bits of metal at the moment. I've been searching the Web for advice on how to set a "loose rivet" such that rotation movement could be achieved ... imagine using such rivets as the joints for an articulated paper (or wood) doll, or in a piece of jewelry where you want to join two pieces and let them "spin" independently, for example. I did see the suggestion somewhere of using a piece of paper between the pieces to be riveted, but I admit to still being confused ... is one supposed to tear the paper away after the rivet has been set, so that it fundamentally serves as a temporary "spacer"? If not, does the paper only "ease" movement by reducing friction ... and if so, how does one keep from setting the rivet too tightly to permit movement in the first place? I feel stupid asking this, but everything I've seen explaining how to set rivets seems to assume I want a very tight connection. I actually need a connection that permits easy, unobstructed rotational movement. In the case of an articulated paper figure, I'd prefer a rivet to a brad, because I don't want to have to accommodate the horizontal bits of metal in a brad. Any pointers? Thanks for any help anyone can provide ...
FoolishSage6 years ago
I'm no expert but wouldn't it be simpler to use some form of hinge and only rivet the ends of the hinge to the parts? This way the rivets would be fixed and the movement happens only in a part specifically produced for it.
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