Tag Archives: learning curve

New tool, new learning curve

I have this habit of buying tools I think I need, and then setting them aside. This is because I am either  daunted by a new learning curve or the tool was an impulse buy and I can’t quite remember why it was so important that I had to have it. I bought this riveting tool in December and just got around to giving it a try yesterday. Silly me. The learning curve was not steep at all and I’m sure I will find the tool quite useful.

Ha ha. I was thrown off by having the staple on the right side of the page when I read through the instructions.


The recommendation was to set the tool into a vise. Hey, I had one of those. Bought on impulse. Never used. Until yesterday. (Yes, I’m an impulse buyer. But I  eventually use 95% of these tools at some point. It was so satisfying to need a small vise and just happen to have one on hand.)



If you’re thinking of getting one of these, the vise helps a lot. I can’t imagine trying to use this tool while holding it in my hand.  The right side of the tool has a punching mechanism and the left side sets the rivet by flaring it. This device is designed for tube rivets. An assortment of open end and closed end tubes come with the tool.



As with any rivet, the length is the key. Too short and there won’t be enough (rivet) metal overlapping the hole to keep the rivet in place. Too long and the rivet will bend, causing an improper fit between the two pieces being riveted. Here are my first attempts:

The very first rivet is the one at “3 o’clock.” I was in such a hurry to get going I didn’t take the time to make sure everything was seated right or lined up before I screwed down the flaring tool. The flare is ragged and off center.



On the back side, at the “9 o’clock” position, there are marks from screwing down too hard. Part of the learning curve: knowing when to stop. At 3 o’clock you can see the results of a rivet that was too long. There was too much metal to flare properly and the excess hangs out leaving a rough edge. The rivet at 6’oclock looks like it is properly done. (One out of three at the beginning. Not too steep to learn.)




From trying this tool and from having made my own wire rivets, I have to say that I like using solid wire rivets better for attaching two pieces of metal. But, you will notice that most of my attempts with this riveting tool were to set a decorative rivet in one layer of metal. I like the look of this eyelet creating a finished hole. I plan to make and patina a number of different base metal “doo-dads” to combine with silver. I think having a mixed metal eyelet in the piece will add that extra bit of detail I’m looking for.



As long as I get the length of the rivet right. In the case of the piece on the right, below, the rivet was too short. Not enough metal to make a smooth even flare. (The front looks okay because the rivets come with one end already flared.)




One of the attractions of this tool is the ability to easily line up very small pieces of metal and punch a decent sized hole in it. I end up having quite a few small discs around from using my disc cutter. The pieces above are 18 gauge which is thicker than I would usually work with in this case. But it’s really hard to hold a tiny pice in place to drill it with a flex shaft or Dremel. The pieces get too hot, even with lubricant on the drill bit.   So, this tool is perfect for making holes.





I realize now that I could have bought really good hole punching pliers for 1/3 of the price of this tool. I know that’s what I’ll use it for the most. So, to get my money’s worth, I’m going to have to be creative in thinking of all the different ways to use these nice brass tube rivets. That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing after all.

Meanwhile, at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time, Bruce has the generator running to test it out. Gas cans are filled. Slow cooking spare ribs are about to go in the oven.  I’ll get bread from the freezer to go with the lentil soup I’m making for tomorrow night. It’s so weird to hear the blizzard warnings and predictions of 2 feet of snow. Beal and Bunker boats are running today but the 5 p.m. commuter boat is canceled. We won’t count on any boats running tomorrow!

I’ll be sure to post pictures if we don’t lose power. We’ll still have our generator to use, but if the power’s off the internet signal is gone. Stay safe everyone! Find your skis and snow shoes!



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Bruce helps me with my learning curve

Today was the day to work out the bugs in my sea glass drilling technique. I knew I would have to go more slowly than on my first attempts. Unlike most of the rocks I drill, which are pretty hardy, glass does not like to be shocked. Even though I drilled slowly and lightly, one of the first pieces cracked this morning. I realized I was working in a cold basement, with glass submerged under cold water (to keep the drill bit cool) and I started to think it might be a good idea to try warmer water for my sea glass pieces. The warm water seemed to help a little. No more cracking, but progress was slow.

Bruce stopped in after his morning of painting buoys in his own shop. We talked about drilling, shocking glass, etc. He asked if I ever used oil as a coolant for the drill. He thought it would be a better lubricant than water. (He is always trying to help me find ways to be more productive, which I almost always appreciate.)

I tried drilling a batch of glass submerged in canola oil. I noticed several differences between the water and the oil. Water becomes cloudy right away while drilling, and I dump it out and refresh it with each rock I drill. The oil did not become as cloudy, and I was able to drill 4 or 5 pieces before having to dump it out and add fresh. In drilling glass, the drill bits lasted much longer with the oil than they did with the water.

I drill rocks and glass about 2/3 of the way through and then start drilling from the other side to meet up with the original hole. I’ve gotten pretty good at it with rocks, though it still is a kind of “blind” drilling. I never know if I’m quite lined up right, and sometimes I’m off. I had some unexpected help in this area when using oil and sea glass. As I poured oil on the pieces I had lined up, the glass became more transparent, yet the hole coming up from the bottom remained frosty.  I could see the exact point I wanted to meet to complete the hole through the center of the piece of glass.

I had been worried about the glass cracking as the drill pushed through to the first hole, but I was able to see clearly just when I needed to slow down and “finesse” my way through.




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In need of more practice

When I got home today on the 11:00 boat I couldn’t wait to unpack, check out mail, put away groceries and get down to work on drilling some pieces of the sea glass I got in the mail last week.

It was not quite as easy as I had imagined. I drill beach rocks all the time, but I drill sea glass much less frequently. Of the 9 pieces of sea glass I partially drilled, 3 of them split or cracked. I tried two different kinds of diamond drill bits. One a core bit and one a solid bit. I have a feeling I’m going to have to practice much more patience when drilling this sea glass; slowing down even more than I think I need to. I don’t have a feel for which bit works better, or if it makes any difference at all.

Strange that the piece above cracked on perpendicular planes, yet did not break apart. I tried dropping it on the counter, dropping it on the floor, and then throwing it on the floor. It did not break. I’ll see what happens on Thursday when I drill the last third of the hole, starting from the opposite end of the glass. Even if it doesn’t break, the cracked lines through it are not very attractive.

I think I have more to learn about this than I originally thought I would. Okay then. An unplanned learning curve. Bring it! The glass is gorgeous and I want to drill it and use it.



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