This post is part of a series about my journey making baskets from punctured bicycle inner tubes. To see them all, click here.
Background and Goals
If you read my last post, you’ll know I felt a lot happier constructing woven baskets the second time around. While I still had some things to improve on, I saw enough to keep going.
What I needed to figure out were rivets – finding the right size/ kind for me and a reliable supplier.
What I Wanted
Feeling confident in my products is the most important things for me. I feel so honoured when anyone chooses to buy from me, I want to reward that trust with something that will last.
So while I could get the cheap set I found to work by trimming the rivets pins to length, I doubted they would last. For one they were made from a steel alloy that would rust.
All they came with was a hand setting tool that wasn’t consistently accurate and was difficult to use, as the only solid enough place in my house was the kitchen floor. I also used the kitchen floor to set poppers for my cable tidies, samosas, and wallets; so finding something that could be used for both would be ideal.
And speaking of those poppers, I’d run into an issue a while back where one colour of popper wasn’t working with the setting tool I used, leading to a lot of frustration and waste. They were from different suppliers so avoiding that situation was top of mind, too.
So a bit of a summary of what I wanted:
- Rivets that wouldn’t rust (e.g. brass)
- Correct pin length
- Additional dies available for cutting holes and attaching poppers
- Supplier who provided both the rivets and the machine to set them
There were three main suppliers/options I came across in my search:
Random eBay Amazon
There are lots of options of people selling machines on eBay and Amazon. I mention them only because they may work for some people. Definitely the cheapest option, and tempting as they look so similar to ones from other stores.
But it didn’t meet my criteria – I wouldn’t necessarily be able to find other dies and supplies that fit from those eBay or Amazon vendors. And even if I did at first, I feel less sure they would have them long term.
Without seeing the machines in person it’s hard to know what the quality of the machines are, and even though they may look the same, I read several reviews on the machines saying they didn’t work with dies purchased from other places.
Trimming Shop is where I was already getting my poppers. They’re based in London, and in addition to their own website, they have Amazon and eBay pages, and may even be on Etsy. They have a huge range of rivets, poppers, and other bag hardware (amongst a lot of other things – they bill themselves online as a wedding and events supplier first).
They have two different kinds of machines- Green and Blue. They provide loads of different starter sets and additional dies you can buy.
In addition to the steel-type rivets I was using from my cheap starter set, they also had washable brass rivets, and even some odd colours and pyramid shapes if I wanted to go a bit punk. Their range was really impressive – and they had the sizes I wanted.
On the negative side their poppers were the ones that didn’t work with my setting tool for whatever reason, so I was a bit wary. I also wasn’t the hugest fan on their website, it was occasionally hard to tell what went with what, and they had this automatic customer service robot that would pop up on every single page you open.
I’m someone who has open all the tabs to compare different options (it drives my husband mad), so I didn’t necessarily want to continue using them.
I came across Green Grizzly on a leatherworker forum. Some people in the US were considering using them for the supplies – despite needing to ship things across the Atlantic.
They, too had machines and starter sets (though the one I bought doesn’t appear to be on their website any more for whatever reason).
Unlike Trimming Shop, they seem to focus on hardware and other supplies for bag making. And while looking through their website, I would often come across listings for custom orders, which I thought was a sign of good customer service.
They had steel and brass rivets in the sizes I wanted, and it was really clear with what went with what.
They’re based in Rochester, not at all far from me in Maidstone, though you can only visit them by appointment only. I found their email customer service very helpful, though at the the time their website was a lot rougher than it is now.
Making a Chose
I ended up ordering some samples of what I was looking for from both Trimming Shop and Green Grizzly. They were comparable, so I went with my gut and decided on Green Grizzly. It was somewhat of a toss up as the quality was about the same, but I found their website easier to use.
I liked the fact that they’re focused on the products I’m looking for – sewing/bag hardware – so if I ever need to expand what I’m buying in I know I can look there first.
My decision was rewarded early on when I asked if they’d swap out the steel double-cap rivets on the starter set for washable brass ones and they agreed to without any additional cost.
It was a really exciting day when my hand press arrived!
It does come with tools to attach it to a table top, but because I end up moving it depending on what I’m working on, I just use a clamp to keep it in place.
Hand press in Action
I want to do more videos of my hand press in action. On some products I use it so much I can get quite the workout. Here’s a video I shared last year on Instagram about my valve valets.
Since buying the hand press and setting tool for the rivets I use for baskets, I’ve bought a bunch of dies that have proved useful in creating other things without a sewing machine.
No more working on the kitchen floor! These require a good bit of pressure to set, but if I swap down to a lower table I can put more of my bodyweight behind it and it works brilliantly for cable tidies, samosas, and wallets.
Cutting Dies / Punch Tools
I use the smaller ones as part of the process of setting rivets, but the larger ones have been a game changer for my valets. They allow me to bulk up the material being captured by the rivet so I can use the same size rivets across multiple products.
I also use the punch tools when making my new range of inner tube earrings – much easier than the hand squeeze tool I used to use for everything.
Rivets have proved useful for the valets and the bauble earrings I shared above. My favourite thing about the tool is that the machine applies the pressure squarely downwards. On the rare occasion it’s gone wrong, it’s my fault for not putting the rivet in the groove properly.
I’ll show off some of the baskets I used these new rivets on in my next post.
The right tool can make such a difference in your process. Instead of having to carry everything downstairs to the kitchen for that finishing touch (or accidentally take chunks out of the lino!), I’m able to take care of everything in the loft room. I’ve got fewer errors, and can feel more secure in the longevity of my products.
What tools have you found to be a game changer for your work?