A long quote from Master Roberto

Since it's very relevant to the work I'm doing right now, and I greatly admire his work, I'm going to shamelessly quote a big chunk from Robert MacPherson:

"Historically, decorative brass strips were applied with flush rivets. this is true from the late 14th c. to the end of the 15thc. It was not until the the heavily pierced work of the late Gothic, that dome headed rivets were used.

The visual impact of flush riveted brass is very different than that of the later brass work. Its smooth uninterrupted line goes well with the clean lines of pre-gothic armor. It also provides an uninterrupted surface for the engraved decoration. The engraver can cut his lines right across the rivet heads as if they weren't there. The #13 armor at Churburg is a good example of this.

I use soft brass wire for my rivets. McMaster sells a five pound spool of .0907" wire. I bought one many years ago; it's practically a lifetime supply. (Perhaps you can find the same thing in smaller quantities.) In a pinch, you can use 3/32" brazing rod, but it is really too hard, and a poor color match.

Proceed thus:
-get your brass to fit over your finished plate.
-hold it in place temporarily with small c-clamps or tape.
-mark your rivet locations (one at each end, and every 1 1/2 to 2 inches)
-punch the first hole with 3/32"
-countersink the brass and the steel (edit- use a 60 degree multi-toothed counter sink tool, not a drill bit)
-straighten out a couple of inches of brass wire and square the ends
-cut a length of wire which is long enough to fill the hole and the countersinks.
-put the wire/rivet through the hole with the squared end on the outside (against the brass)
-put the work down on a clean anvil surface (brass side down)
-peen up the inside of the rivet with a ball hammer, the outside will swell to fit the countersink in the brass.
-place the plate over an appropriate stake ( brass side out) and finish the rivet with a flat hammer. Don't hit it any more than necessary or the surrounding brass will become too hard to "set down" later.
-repeat with subsequent rivets, trying always to "pull the slack" out of the brass.

Once the brass is riveted in place, you must get rid of any lumps or gaps in the fit. Do this by hammering the brass down with a rawhide hammer. (this is practically the ONLY thing I ever do with a rawhide hammer) Do not hammer it too much, or it will stretch, and spring away from the steel!

I usually finish the brass with 80gr., followed by 180gr., followed by black emery on a sisal buff, and finally the same on a cotton buff.

When all that is done, it is time to engrave!

When the engraving is done I sometimes go over the entire piece with my "sacred wire wheel". This is a wheel with very fine wires (.006") which has been very well "broken in", and has ALWAYS run in the same direction, and NEVER been reversed. I run this wire wheel in a little WD40. This yields a "softer" looking finish."


Popular Posts