Tools and Materials



London Metal Company - Tel: 020-8337 0090 / Fax: 020-8330 3437

J.T. Batchelor Ltd. ( Leather, Buckle Suppliers ) - Tel: 020-7254 2962 / Fax: 020-7254 0357

Sapphire Products Ltd. ( Incorporating the Rivet Supply Co. ) - Tel: 0121 326 6000 / Fax: 0121 328 5518


4mm x 4mm round headed steel rivets are used for all the armours made in the construction projects. These most closely resemble those found in armours of the period.

The three stages in piening a rivet

diagram showing the three stages in piening a rivet

The plates to be articulated are held together with the rivet in place, it's head resting on the anvil.

The rivet in place before piening

Working from the inner aspect of the piece the rivet is gently 'mushroomed' using the small ball-pien hammer.

Piening the rivet

As work progresses the mushrooming has the effect of drawing the rivet through the plates pulling them together.

Piening complete

For articulation the plates are not drawn together as tightly as fixed plates. Some advocate drilling a hole slightly larger in diameter than that of the rivet being used, or using a washer. I have found that neither is really necessary as long as one takes care not to pien the rivet too aggressively.


Here I am using one of the lames from the sabaton of Project 3 to demonstrate the stages in the finishing process. The first image shows the piece after shaping before any finishing has been carried out.

Piece before any finishing work

The first stage is to bevel the edges to 45° using a flap sanding wheel. The piece is held very firmly and several gentle passes made across the wheel to ensure the bevel is clean and even.

Bevelling the edge

The edges bevelled

Next a combination wool and paper flap-wheel which is only mildly abrasive is used over the surface. This removes marks and scratches without itself scoring the metal.

Mild abrasive flap-wheel used in first stage finishing

First stage finishing complete

The piece is actually perfectly acceptable as it is with no further finishing, although I prefer to use a polishing compound with a large stitched mop on the lathe to provide a mirror finish. This is very time consuming - the piece shown here took 10 minutes work with the polishing wheel to achieve the final result. One might think that 10 minutes doesn't sound very long - but consider that the sabaton is made of 8 pieces, which makes 80 minutes polishing for each one. Extrapolate that for the whole armour and the time is really quite considerable - and of course the rivets must be polished too!

The finished piece

I find it better to polish the rivets individually before use rather than after the piece is assembled. This is easily accomplished by holding the stem of the rivet in a pair of pliers and using a dedicated polishing mop that has developed a central groove.

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