Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

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brit-in-bama
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:46 am
Location: Alabama U.S.A

Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby brit-in-bama » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:29 pm

This article may be republished or copied in full freely on other sites only if this link is included back to this site

first published at http://www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk/
copyright © brit-in-bama 2017

I am sorry for the long post, but its as short as I can make it given the subject
involved, and I have deliberately posted the photo’s as attachments so they will
stay with the site as long as its up and running without using a photo host who
may delete them in future, as we have seen in the recent past with several sites. sorry for the photo quality as I was trying to keep the file size under 1meg each, so it wouldn't take an age to load this post

if you have never used a sewing machine before, I recommend asking
someone who has about the basic points and controls of the particular
machine, it will save a lot of time and energy (and probably frustration) its
a pretty simple machine, but it will also punch holes in you if you are not
careful (as any seamstress will tell you)


I know I dont post much, because generally I come here to learn how to do stuff,
having been out of modeling for 30+ years, I forgot a lot, but over the last 7 years
I have made some progress, but here is something that I stumbled upon last
night, and as I have searched all the forums of all the sites I am on I haven't
found this particular subject on any of them, so I thought this is the place to put
it, so here it is! all you need is a sewing machine (the older the better 1950’s to
80’s) all mechanical, robust and simple to use, and can be picked up really
cheap these days. this whole process in no way either harms or alters the machine
in any way.

this is what I achieved in under seven minutes the three outside edges were
done in less than 1 minute and are exactly 1/8th inch in all the way around
which is about 17 inches.
less than 7mins.jpg


first remove the cotton and bottom cotton spool from the machine so the loose
thread doesn't foul the mechanics under the needle fabric feed (dogs)

cut down a needle so it is level with the plate it normally goes through, I used a
dremmel and cutting disk because it needs to be a flat end on the needle, and
the needle is very hard, ( I tried a slight domed needle and it wasn't as good as a
straight cut one) then take the edges off with a small flat file so its smooth to the
touch, and dont forget to tape both ends of the needle down to a piece of wood
when you cut it, as they will fly off and they are both still very sharp!!
marking the needle.jpg
marking the needle.jpg (42.66 KiB) Viewed 359 times


place the needle back in its normal position, turn the handwheel (top towards you
always) to lift the needle up out of the way, lift the foot and place a piece of
plasticard under the foot and let it down so it holds the card in place (I use 20
thou plasticard,)
setting the needle.jpg
setting the needle.jpg (44.55 KiB) Viewed 359 times


bring the needle down to its lowest point and loosen the screw so the needle
drops down in its holder to just touch the plasticard, then re-tighten the screw. (
sometimes its a good fit in the holder and needs a little help to drop down) this
sets the needle to the top of the card, then lift the foot and remove the card

the machine will not feed smooth material, silk etc, or plastic, so we need to use
a temporary backing to the plastic card to make the “dogs” (the teeth under the
needle that moves the material between stitches) grip the card and move it
through at the correct spacing, (stitch length) either spray-mount adhesive or
masking tape are good, but double sided tape is too permanent, cut the card to
the same size as the plastic, you can punch through the masking tape if its on
top with little effect to the rivets. remember that it is the thickness of the
backing card that determines the rivet height,and its a lot easier than re-setting
the needle, and just by changing the backing card you can change the depth of the
rivet, but you can also change the needle height to use a common or better card
of a different thickness, either way after some practice you should get the sizes
you require

use the smallest foot (usually for straight stitches) it usually has a small side on
the right side of the needle,

mark your plastic ( I use the dull side) with a pencil line about 1/8 inch (3 mm) in
from the edge all the way round your square test card, ( I used a 3 x 3 inch
piece) and place a corner under the foot and lower the needle until it presses
into the card

then lower the foot to hold the plastic in place,
grab an old plastic ruler and a square and tape it to the bed of the machine with
masking tape this acts as your guide so the rivets are in a straight line.
slowly turn the handwheel (top towards you always) and press the next rivet, if it
is too close to the last one change the stitch length (usually a dial with numbers
on) to a bigger number, my machine is usually between 2 and 3 for normal
sewing, this is about 1/8th inch on my machine.


carry on using the handwheel, whilst making sure with your left hand that the
card is pressed gently but firmly up against the ruler, (it has a tendency to move
away, just like material when sewing) but keep your fingers away from the foot,
although it has no point, the needle will still go through your nail due to the
mechanical advantage of the machine.

once you get to the end of that side, lift the foot and turn the card to the next
side, remembering that you always feed from front to back, place the card
against the ruler and lower the needle until it presses on your corner mark (or
near to it) then lower the foot and proceed to rivet that side, once you are
comfortable with the results by hand, then its time to use the motor, remember
that when sewing, “speed is your worst enemy”, slow and steady is the rule! play
with the foot control to get the feel of the motor (just like a car) with no card in the
machine, sometimes (when sewing thick material like leather or vinyl ) the
motor is not strong enough to start at the bottom of the stroke, this is also true
when punching the rivets, so start the motor at the top or on its down stroke so
the motor has a little momentum to do the rivet. for anything difficult you can
always use the handwheel.

once you are happy with the results, remove the card and peel off the backing.
then with a bit of gentle persuasion flatten out the card where it is bent by
pressing a ruler or straight edge up against the line of rivets and pressing firmly
on a flat surface whist gently bending the card up, it will never be truly flat but
with care it can be close.

points I have noticed
(remember this is still a new process to me too)

1, the row of rivets will slightly bow the card, as it does when doing this with a
manual punch,

2, the rivets when spaced further apart look bigger, but they are not, as I never
changed any setting except the stitch length, but the illusion works to our benefit

3, do not try and punch too close to the edge of the card, always about 1/8th
inch in, this can be trimmed off afterwards.

4 working freehand without a rule guide makes it possible to place individual
rivets at any point anywhere just by using the handwheel and a pencil mark, you
dont even need to lower the foot as its so quick and easy, the large arc was done
freehand just following a score mark on the back from when I cut the arch (very
badly)

5, curves and arc’s are a doddle once you get the feel of the machine, you could
even do accurate circular parts if you set up a center to the left on the machine
bed and rotated the circle with the feed dogs feeding it as if it were a straight
piece, it wont know any difference unless you tell it! ( :lol: )

6. for doing strips of rivets to place on wagon sides or joints in steelwork, use a
large piece of card and do single rows of rivets by moving the guide ruler 1/8th of
an inch for each new row, then when enough rows have been made, simply cut
between them (cutting from the back works best) with a steel rule and a good
sharp knife without pressing on too hard, several light cuts works better than a
heavy cut which tends to make the strip curl sideways.

7. small parts can be done very easily by marking with dots, and then by
handwheel, but dont punch too close to the edge, punch well within a piece of
card, and cut it out after its done with a scalpel or sharp knife or even a good pair
of scissors
small parts.jpg
small parts.jpg (53.11 KiB) Viewed 359 times

if you use the smallest stitch the rivets will be so close together that they
resemble a line of weld as seen on the right hand of the triangle, this was done
freehand, but I could of used a rule to make it look like welded panels.
welds.jpg


8. newer machines can do zig-zag stitches, by moving the needle sideways, this
opens the door to all sorts of stuff, because you can set the width and length of
the stitches, to do offset rivets for a single beam, there are also double and triple
needles available, and as we only use a small length of the needle it should be
able to make use of these ( if cut off accurately ) to make double or triple rows of
rivets, thus saving even more time to actually build things, incidentally all the
rivets you see in the above photo’s were done all together in less that 7 minutes
from start to finish. it would have taken several hours to do the same number,
and even then they wouldn't have either had consistent depth or been in a
straight line, and the diagonals were done just by eye feeding it through at 45
degree’s along a pencil line, and just making the stitch length a bit longer to
space them out a bit more.

measurements
the card I am using is what they call here “regular card stock” , its 10 thou thick .
try not to use card with a glossy surface, or a waxed coating such as cereal
boxes or painted or printed card, and yes if the card is too thick it will punch nice
clean holes 45 thou dia, but you will have to clean out the underside of the
machine if you ever want to sew with it again, but this too has its uses, like
punching holes for carriage door handles and pipes and handrails, or just to
locate small fiddly bits much more accurately than a pin vice, and there are
many different sizes of needles so without too much expense or effort you can
probably make a whole set of punches.

I am using 20 thou plasticard. its all I have! and I am using 10 thou card, so I
produce rivets 10 thou high (consistently) by indenting only halfway through the
plastic. thinner card or paper would produce less rivet height but 10 thou to me
seems OK at the moment.

the needle I am using is a number “11” (sizes go from 8 to 18) and its shaft
diameter is 45 thou, the smallest needle is called a “sharp” (#8) and is used for
sewing silk and very fine weave materials. its shaft will be a smaller diameter but
as I dont have one I cant give any size.

we still use imperial measurements over here, and so do the sewing machines,
so a little experimentation is needed to set the length of center between rivets,

I hope some of you find this useful, if I had another machine to play with I would
make all sorts of gadgets to make this system much more accurate. but as I am
as new to this as you, I would be grateful for any comments or feedback, or even
idea’s to improve this system, its not perfect, but its a lot better than hand
punching or sticking those expensive glue on rivets, especially if you need long
consistent rows along an edge or part or even just making the side of a tender.

p.s
I dont know if this would work on thin brass or aluminium but I suspect it will,
but it wont work on thin tin-can steel, its just too hard on the machine.

copyright © brit-in-bama 2017
Last edited by brit-in-bama on Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:06 pm, edited 7 times in total.

m.levin
Posts: 1976
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:46 pm

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby m.levin » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:09 am

Oh I like this.
Thanks for the info

Bigmet
Posts: 5605
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:19 pm

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby Bigmet » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:36 am

Brit-in-Bama,

A small suggestion, submit your 'post of the year' for inclusion in the 'Articles ' section of this site. If you are so inclined, you could probably find a print magazine editor who would take it.

Boys,

Cautionary note reiteration! if your wife or significant other is an enthusiast for sewing, or even one who while no enthusiast has a machine regularly used in the practical application to domestic economy; don't even think of trying it on her machine! (Those who have dared to use the stove top or oven for the odd constructional task may have some clue to the sensitivity.)

brit-in-bama
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:46 am
Location: Alabama U.S.A

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby brit-in-bama » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:11 pm

Bigmet
A small suggestion, submit your 'post of the year' for inclusion in the 'Articles ' section of this site. If you are so inclined, you could probably find a print magazine editor who would take it.


I am not looking for fame or attention, and I dont know how to submit a post to the articles section, but I will say that if the moderators or owners of this site wish to place this post to some other section so more people can see it I have no objections, I just thought this was a brilliant, quick and simple remedy, I thought I should "put it out there" and share with everyone to make riveting a bit easier, I wish I had a better camera, I know the quality is poor, but its 15 years old, and the date is stuck on first of jan 2000, and as for the caution you mentioned above, I agree 100% and I seriously suggest buying an old cheap sewing machine rather than touch one that is used, that way you can if you need to "modify it" without starting ww3, and also note that all I have modified is a broken needle, also I am dyslexic and also using a usa spell checker, so please forgive any mistakes, oh and thanks for the "post of the year" comment.

brit-in-bama
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:46 am
Location: Alabama U.S.A

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby brit-in-bama » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:56 pm

ok, now an update, well I seemed to have solved the "putting the rivets in" problem, so now its how to solve the distortion problem that the "putting the rivets in" solution created! so, so simple, yet perfect!
so this is what happened as the rivets were pressed in
after riveting.jpg

and the end result of today's little play session, absolutely flat again!
flat again.jpg

with no loss of the rivets or details
no loss of detail.jpg

and how to achieve this wonder
iron + wet teatowel.jpg


first it must be a terry-towelling tea towel, wet, and rung out so it doesn't drip, and an iron on a medium setting, and of course a flat formica worktop, although any worktop will do so long as heat and steam wont bother it, but it must be smooth, hard and clean, the terry-toweling helps to stop the rivets being pressed flatter, a linen tea-towel is not thick enough and is too close to the plastic as it is too thin, also it doesn't hold as much water as the terry.
simply place the plastic on the worktop, cover with the wet towel and using medium pressure (as if you were ironing a shirt collar) and place the iron on the part, and hold for about 10 seconds, then lift off, it should still be making steam noises as you remove it, leave it on too long and it will melt the styrene, for larger items like the arch do one end and then lift the iron off and do the other end, trying to push the iron simply bunches the tea towel up and creates ripples, I then placed the iron in the mid-section, and let it cook for 5-6 seconds, then remove the towel and allowed the plastic to cool down before I moved it, remember it is still soft and can distorted by picking one end up, and as you can see the rivets still measure 10 thou in height, and now the whole sheet is flat again, ready to be cut up and worked with.

And the usual caution, dont use your wife's iron, buy a cheepie, doesnt need to be a steam iron, mine was a junk-shop special that I bought to put on iron-on edging strip years ago to some cabinets I made, I hope someone else tries the stuff I have written in this post, I would like to see someone else's efforts good or bad. thanks for reading

This article may be republished or copied in full freely on other sites only if this link is included back to this site

first published at http://www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk/
copyright © brit-in-bama 2017
Last edited by brit-in-bama on Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

brit-in-bama
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:46 am
Location: Alabama U.S.A

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby brit-in-bama » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:45 pm

so I was looking at the hole punch thoughts on the first post, and decided to try some, again I did not alter anything except the card thickness and he stitch length, and produced this!
cutting holes.jpg

not only does it punch holes in a nice regular spacing, at differing hole centers, but it will also act as a jigsaw if you go down to a stitch size where the holes meet, if I had used the same setting number as the weld line it would have left a much cleaner hole, it cut out slots and awkward shapes as well, this could be used to cut out carriage windows and doors,

all I did was tape it down to a piece of 3mm foamboard, for two reasons
1, this brings the plastic well above the rivet punch setting, letting it act as a true hole punch
2, this foamboard collects all the stuff it punches out as well as acting as the feed card, and as the needle doesn't go through the bottom of the foamboard, all the bits cut out stay inside the board.
the one down side is that the foamboard is very soft and it leaves the back of the cutouts with a little bit of a rough edge, nothing too bad that a nail file cant clean up, perhaps another layer of plastic would help make the foam board stiffer?
each time I go in the room I see another use for it

this tool on the weld/ setting could also be used to indent features like recesses, grooves, and outer window frame details on the good side, as long as the smallest possible stitch length is used, the possibilities are endless

ok, I promise no more post's for a while, I will let some others come back with their thoughts.

This article may be republished or copied in full freely on other sites only if this link is included back to this site
first published athttp://www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk/
copyright © brit-in-bama 2017
Last edited by brit-in-bama on Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

brit-in-bama
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:46 am
Location: Alabama U.S.A

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby brit-in-bama » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:23 pm

sorry couldn't resist, this is the side of a tender, found on the internet, so I copied it, drew it out and printed it onto a sticky lable, stuck it on plasticard, and spent about 30 mins riveting, this is in "00", but by scaling the drawing it could be any scale, I did the rivets only 5 thou this time as 10 seemed too big at this scale, anyway enough yackin, some pics
none of this would be possible without my little helper (according to him anyway)
gin-gin.jpg

tender side
tender 4.jpg

close up
tender 3.jpg

and as close-up as I can get
tender 2.jpg


hope this gives someone else confidence to have a go.

This article may be republished or copied in full freely on other sites only if this link is included back to this site
first published athttp://www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk/
copyright © brit-in-bama 2017
Last edited by brit-in-bama on Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

brit-in-bama
Posts: 187
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:46 am
Location: Alabama U.S.A

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby brit-in-bama » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:49 pm

OK, time for a small update, (hope your not bored with this yet), now I have made a guide out of an old styrene sign thats been kicking around the shop for years, its 1/8 inch thick, I made it into a square by gluing a small piece under the front to keep it in line with the sewing table, and simply clamp it front and back to keep it in position while in use. I actually made two just in case! :lol:
t square.jpg

as you can see I also cut a slot just wide enough to make the "T" a nice tight fit without distorting the guide, and it fits good enough not to need tape to hold it in place. you will see a series of holes, these are tapped for a 5/32 thread (think meccano) as the machine I made to cut circles is made from that and it has a 5/32 center,
T close up.jpg

as you can see its a good close fit, and it doesnt move.
and here's what its for
holes in an arc.jpg

this is at 2" radius, any smaller its easier to do them by hand, but this will do up to 10" radius, it can be any radius you need as long as you keep the center in line with the needle, and as you can see I punched holes in this because on here they show up better than rivets, I also changed stitch length half way through, and if used on the smallest stitch size it will also cut a perfect arc or circle

I also made myself a quick stitch guide
rough stitch lenght guide.jpg

and I just noticed the date is now working on my camera, ha, wonders never cease!
hope this is of use to somebody, I know It will make my modeling a lot quicker, if not better

This article may be republished or copied in full freely on other sites only if this link is included back to this site
first published athttp://www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk/
copyright © brit-in-bama 2017
Last edited by brit-in-bama on Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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carnehan
Posts: 1205
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:44 pm

Re: Pressing rivets in plasticard with a sewing machine!

Postby carnehan » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:12 pm

Fantastic solution to the rivet problem.

Paul


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