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Riveted Union Technique

Brass sculpture

A rivet is a small metal pin used to fasten flat pieces of metal together. It is a cylinder with forged heads, one formed at the time of making the rivet and the other formed on the hot rivet after it has been inserted. The joining of parts by these cylindrical fasteners passing through holes dates back to Egyptian times.The ancient Egyptians developed metalworking which possessed an excellence that in some respects has never been surpassed. Throughout Egyptian history the same smiths who worked on precious metals also worked with copper and bronze.


Almost every fashionable Egyptian possessed a hand mirror of polished copper, bronze or silver. Copper pitchers and basins for hand washing were found in tombs. Basins and the bodies of the ewers (pitchers) were hand hammered from single sheets of copper. The spouts were cast in moulds and attached to the bodies by means of copper rivets. All decorative metalwork was executed with a hammer. The separate parts of each item were hammered out separately and were then put together by means of rivets or they were pinned on a solid core (as soldering had not yet been invented). Plates of hammered copper were shaped into statues, the separate parts being joined together with copper rivets. A life-size Egyptian statue of pharaoh Pepi I in the Egyptian museum in Cairo is an extraordinary example of such work.

Connections between metal parts are required in most applications and are a critical part of every design. Rivets have been used in all major metallurgical constructions, including the construction of airplanes, ships, steam engines etc. These connections have proven to be very reliable giving excellent service.Today, in heavy steel fabrication, welding has almost completely replaced riveting as a means of making connections.

Pot stills, (Alembics or Alquitars), have always been made using rivets ever since the Moorish introduced these in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the traditional method of joining the different parts that make up the still. Even though many stills are now soldered, the riveted construction is still preferred by the old folk and by many others.

Riveted still
Riveted Pot

This traditional method of joining the three separate parts that make up the copper pot (bottom, belly and top) has however improved with the evolution of time. To make the pot totally impermeable a linseed oil solution (linseed oil mixed with other natural ingredients) is applied to all the interior seams. You should process a distillation of clean water with rye flour (see Cleaning & Maintenance) to remove the excess linseed oil and also to block any passages. However, if after one distillation you can still see some of this solution on the walls of your pot DO NOT SCRAPE IT OFF, if you do your pot may leak. Any excess solution will disappear with continuous distillation and what is left over will not affect or influence whatever you want to distil.A small booklet with complete cleaning guidelines and detailed basic instructions will be sent to you after purchase is made.

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