View Full Version : What is a good source of metal for steel rivets

Steve Steven
12-09-2011, 01:57 PM
I need to make three small rivets, about 3/16" dia by about 1/4" working length, and am looking for a source of soft steel to make them from. I have a good selection of W1 and O1 steel, but I think it may be too hard for this service. I need to be able to head them easily, as they are difficult to get to.

I have thought of large nails, but not too sure what they are made from these days, with all the recycling going on. I could just order a one foot length of 1018 from Speedy Metals, but shipping is nearly $11! There ought to be a better way than this.

Anyone know of a suitable source for soft mild steel? Cheap bolts, nails, rod at the Big Box store?

Thanks for any thoughts on this.


The Artful Bodger
12-09-2011, 02:19 PM
I often rivet things with nails, they even come with a head on one end!:)

12-09-2011, 02:38 PM
X2 for the nails,if you have a torch you can heat them red and cool slowly in dry sand to anneal them at which point they will be dead soft.

12-09-2011, 02:50 PM
I think a nail's hardness, such as it is, comes from the cold-drawing process it goes through. If you anneal the nails as per Weirdscience they should work fine. A 3/16" dia nail is one honkin' big nail though.

J. R. Williams
12-09-2011, 04:14 PM
Try a 3/16" welding rod. Say a 6010, knock off the flux and get busy.

Bob Fisher
12-09-2011, 04:25 PM
Look at McMaster Carr, you can get a whole box for a few dollars, and their shipping is reasonable. but if you only need three, I guess I'd make "em outa nails as suggested. Bob,

12-09-2011, 04:39 PM
Try a 3/16" welding rod. Say a 6010, knock off the flux and get busy.

2nd vote on what JRW said.

12-09-2011, 07:11 PM
The place to buy rivets is RJ Leahy in San Francisco. http://www.www.rjleahy.com

12-09-2011, 08:35 PM
I have made retaining pins out of the cheap cad plated bolts available at hardware stores , these are as soft as .

A couple of 5/16 bolts would set you back a lot less than the $11.00 you quoted .

12-09-2011, 10:12 PM
Do you need pan head or round head? I use a lot of the 3/16 in 1/4 and 3/8 lengths for antique car bodies and keep a pretty good stock on hand. Send a PM with your address and I'll send a few. If you gotta have them "now", I've used hot rolled stock from the hardware store in a pinch.

Steve Steven
12-10-2011, 06:18 PM
Thanks for all the help. I ended up using some #10-24 bolts instead, due to the configuration involved.

The job was to refasten an A/C clutch Plate to the driven element, the one on the shaft. It was from my sons Saab, and very different than the GM ones I was used to. the GM has a spring strap connecting the two, the Saab has a rubber insert bonded between the two that is supposed to be the spring.

There was a gap of about 1/8" between the tab on the driven piece and the clutch disc, and I decided to use bolts to pull the two pieces together. Had some #10-24 half inch long, so I cut the heads down to fit into the recess in the clutch disc and threaded the .170" hole in the clutch disc.

Put it together, tightened everything up, cleaned the back side of the clutch disc where the bolt heads stuck thru a bit, adjusted the clearance for the clutch disc to driver with shims, and am finished. Hope it works!

Thanks for all the assistance,


Your Old Dog
12-11-2011, 09:09 AM
This may not help you but I use 1/8th brazing rod and aluminum welding rod without the flux coating and have had great luck.

I would think nails would be harder then you need but they would work. I also think regular coat hangers will work also and maybe be a bit easier to work with then nails. It's cheap enough to do a trial.