How to install metal rivets on your bags … the easy & inexpensive way!

*** Originally posted in the Lányos Handmade Shop Blog “Bag News”, just a bit of a technical problem over there and it leaked through here! 🙂


Some bag makers invest in a LEATHER PUNCH or HAND PRESS or a MINI PUNCH SET.  I use a SEWING AWL. What you need will depend on your frequency of use, the number of layers and weight of your layers, the location of your rivet, and if you plan using the tool for other things, like inserting grommets, snaps, etc.

Let’s keep it simple, and inexpensive, for now though!

leather punch
hand press
mini punch set

A small HAMMER or RUBBER MALLET.  The hammer is used to lock the rivet post and the cap together.  Some don’t recommend a metal hammer, instead they recommend a rubber mallet because there is concern that a metal hammer will damage the setting post.  I use a small lightweight (8 oz) mini hammer. 

SETTING POST and ANVIL.  The anvil holds the rivet post and the setting post holds the rivet cap while you use  your hammer.  If you don’t have a setting post and an anvil, you can use a DRITZ TOOL, but I have found the Dritz Tool is not always successful.  It depends on the thickness of the layers and the  location of your rivet on your project. 

RIVETS.  Rivets always have a post piece and a cap piece.  Double cap rivets have a rounded finish on both pieces.  Chicago screws are another kind of “rivet”.  They screw together instead of being hammered together.  (I think they are really cool!)

To choose what size rivet is needed, compress all the layers of your strap or garment.  Your rivet post must just barely clear the fabric thickness.  If it is too long, it might bend when you cap and hit it with a hammer.  It is best to use a small piece of a stiff heavy weight interfacing or an extra layer of fabric or cork to make up the difference if your post is too long … or use a smaller rivet!

I have a small stash of rivets, sized 4 mm (3/16”) and 6 mm (1/4”).  I have a few 8 mm (5/16”) posts too, leftover from a leather strap.

GLUE.  Mine is called “E6000 Glue”.

TIP:  Practice first!  Install your rivets with scraps of your fabric folded with the right number of layers, before attacking the real thing!

Below, in order:  Setting post, Anvil, Double cap Rivet post and cap, Awl, 8 oz Hammer – chunk of wood because I like having something sturdy under my anvil, like a chunk of wood and a cement floor!

rivet installation tools

How to install Rivets with a Setting Post and Anvil:

Measure and mark where the rivet is supposed to sit on your strap or D-ring tab.

measure where the rivet is to go

Use your awl and hammer to poke a hole into your layers at the mark, using your chunk of wood as a base.  I start with a tiny hole and slowly work it bigger by hand with the awl until the rivet post can fit through.

using an awl to make a hole for your rivet post

If you have a curved rivet post (double cap), place the rivet post in the curved side of the anvil, on your chunk of wood.

Push the rivet post through the hole you made.  Put a drop of glue on the post.

Place the rivet cap on the post, which is slightly sticking out through the layers. 

If your rivet cap is curved, place the curved end of the setting post firmly on top of the rivet cap, not the flat end of the setting post.

Hold firmly and tap the top of the setting post a couple of times to lock the two pieces together.  Do not let the setting post slip.

TIP:  If you have a fancy rivet surface, you might want some padding on it to protect it’s design while you hammer the two pieces together.  

using a setting post and anvil to attach a rivet
finished rivets

TIP: Remember, if your layers are especially thick for sewing, do not hesitate to use some painters or masking tape to protect the surface of your fabric and hammer away.  It works to reduce bulk!

So now you can successfully attach rivets to your Lányos Handmade Bags!

Any comments or other tips?  Please tell!  I’d love to hear from you!

💙 Linda 

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