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Riveted Union Technique


A rivet is a small metal pin or bolt used to fasten two or more pieces of metal together. It consists of a cylindrical shaft with a head on one end, while the other end is deformed to create a second head after the rivet is inserted through pre-drilled holes in the materials to be joined. This deformation is typically achieved by hammering or using a rivet gun, securing the materials firmly in place.

The use of rivets dates back to ancient times, with evidence of their application in Egyptian metalworking. The ancient Egyptians were skilled in metalworking, producing items of copper, bronze, and occasionally precious metals with a level of craftsmanship that has rarely been surpassed. Egyptian smiths created a wide range of objects, from tools and weapons to decorative items and statuary. For example, copper and bronze were extensively used to make hand mirrors, pitchers, and basins. These items were often found in tombs, indicating their importance in daily and ritual life.

Copper pitchers and basins for handwashing were crafted by hammering single sheets of copper into shape. The spouts of these pitchers were typically cast separately in molds and then attached to the hammered bodies using copper rivets. Decorative metalwork, including statues, was also created by hammering metal plates and joining them with rivets. An extraordinary example of this craftsmanship is the life-size statue of Pharaoh Pepi I, displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which showcases the use of copper rivets in ancient art.

Brass sculpture

Rivets have played a crucial role in construction and manufacturing throughout history. They were extensively used in major metallurgical constructions, including the assembly of airplanes, ships, bridges, and steam engines. Riveted connections are known for their reliability and strength, providing excellent service over time. However, with the advent of modern welding techniques, riveting has been largely replaced in many applications, particularly in heavy steel fabrication.

Despite the dominance of welding, riveting remains important in certain traditional practices and specific industries. For example, pot stills, used in distillation processes, are often made using rivets. This method of construction, introduced by the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula, involves joining the different parts of the still, such as the bottom, belly, and top. While many modern stills are soldered, the traditional riveted construction is still preferred by some for its historical authenticity and perceived durability.

Riveted still
Riveted Pot

To ensure the impermeability of riveted stills, a linseed oil solution (a mixture of linseed oil and other natural ingredients) is applied to all interior seams. This solution helps seal the seams, preventing leaks. After application, it is recommended to process a distillation of clean water with rye flour to remove any excess linseed oil and block any passages (refer to Cleaning & Maintenance). It is important TO NOT SCRAPE OFF any remaining solution, as doing so may cause leaks. With continuous use, any excess solution will gradually disappear without affecting the distillation process.

A booklet with complete cleaning guidelines and detailed instructions is provided with the purchase of a riveted still, ensuring users can maintain and use their equipment effectively.

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