Made in America – Forging Ahead – Part 2

It’s all about the rivet.  It takes a beating,  holds structures together, and stands up to enormous amounts of tension.

Holding Strong.

As lovely as the metal is that has been pounded and formed via Augustine and Nick’s skilled craftsmanship, it’s nothing without the rivet.  And I think one of the coolest facts about the guys and their approach to making these chandeliers has been the use of traditional techniques.

Nick adjusts the cutting blade as he makes the raw rivets.

Oil keeps the metal and saw blade from overheating and seizing up.

Obviously modern tools are used for many steps, but much of the hard work is still finished via ‘big old hammer’ and lots of muscle.

Starting out, Nick cut down a bunch of pieces of steel slugs that would become our rivets.  Using the metal saw, a light touch and five minutes later, we had our first round of soldiers.

A few last-minute measurements.

Augustine took a few last-minute measurements to verify all the holes lined up, and then he took over the frame to be drilled.  When metal meets metal, an enormous amount of friction is created, and the surfaces get very very hot. To prevent overheating, you need to cool the surfaces somehow.  Water isn’t good enough to cool the metal, nor is it a material you want to inject into raw metal either.  Thus, a combination of a few oils are used.

Drill baby drill. You can see the steam coming from the drill. The bottle is the oil.

Water + Metal = Rust. So an oil is used to lubricate and insulate from that poison of poisons, O2.

Firing up the torch.

Once the holes were drilled, we were ready to pound out the first set.  Firing up the torch, Augustine would heat the rivet up to the point where it became red-hot and malleable.  A quick, “Ready?” was shouted, Nick answered, Augustine backed away, and Nick began the pound down with his hammer.

Ready? Hammer away!

The hammer strikes don’t just land perfectly over the rivet head – nor do you want them to.  To make the rivet, you have to upset the head and flare it out so it will hold.  The same thing goes for the tail as well.

A good strike captured. You can see the red-hot slag falling to the floor.

As the rivet is beat, the metal inside the bored hole will expand, and thus, hold it in place.  So as you can see in some of the photos, the hammer comes down at different angles to produce this effect.

Augustine, working on a rivet.

Pretty amazing.  Rivets have been around since the bronze age, and they are still used today to hold together items from buildings to the airplanes that make travel so convenient for you and I.

I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by on this project.  The chandeliers are approaching completion, as is Prospect.  Summer is almost here, and I tell you, I can’t wait to get a few bites when the doors open.

Next up are the finishing touches.  A screen will wrap the perimeter of the chandelier, radiating a nice, soft, warm light once it’s all said and done.

See you down the road.

-Todd

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