How to make perfect rivets every time

This is a Guest Post by Erik Holz

I spotted Erik's original post over on Warseer where he was describing how to retrofit a Mk II Rhino into a Mk I; in it he had a small section on making rivets. I asked him if he would like to write up the rivet method for FTW and he agreed.

Required Materials:
Small glass beads
Zap-a-Gap Super Glue
Hobby Knife
Pin Vice
Pin or needle (for applying the superglue)

The first step in creating rivets for your models is to use the hobby knife to create guide holes for your pin vice.
Use the point of the hobby knife and spin it in order to create tiny holes.
These holes will prevent your pin vice from slipping and creating a hole where you don’t want it.

Step 2
Once you have all the guide holes drilled into the model in question, you can use your pin vice to create a small “crater” in the plastic.

To create the rivet “crater” you don’t want to press down on the pin vice so much as let the weight of the vice itself press into the plastic. You do not want to create an actual pin tunnel, you just want a hemisphere that the little glass bead will sit into about halfway.

Step 3
Once you have all your rivet “craters”, you want to take some super glue, squirt it somewhere useful like on a spare piece of plastic, and keep it handy.
You then want to use a pin or needle to transfer a tiny bit of super glue from your glue puddle to the rivet “crater”. Personally, I use Zap-a-Gap for this because it flows very easily into the rivet craters and doesn’t dry too quickly.

Once you have the zap a gap in your crater, you want to take one of your glass beads and push your finger into it so you get it to stick to your finger.
You then want to roll your finger against the plastic so that the rivet "falls" into the rivet crater.

You DO NOT want to press the bead in, because you will get glue on you and create a mess. Instead, roll your finger off into the crater.

Once the rivet is in the proper hole, use either the other side of your fingernail, or the flat end of the hobby knife to press the bead into the crater to ensure a nice strong bond.

There you have it, rivets that will last you in quantity and quality.

These are much more durable than PVA rivets which easily fall off from continuous gaming. I’m unsure if they have the beads (pictured above near the supply list) in the UK or elsewhere around the world but I'm sure a large craft store would have something similar.

If your search proves unfruitful, an alternate option is to use the plastic beads found in a Brita Water Filter.

I'd like to thank Jon for finding this and Erik Holz for allowing us to post his tutorial here on FTW and share it with the 40k blogging community - Ron.

Additional related links:
Rivets: with greenstuff, by Santa Cruz Warhammer
Rivets: with greenstuff, by Ithmaril's Wargaming Blog
Rivets: how to make them, by Exponent Wargames
Rivets: with PVA glue, by Santa Cruz Warhammer

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. This is very nice, i would have never thought of this. Thanks for sharing this gives me some great ideas. Now i just need to make sure that i dont use this and go over board with it.

  2. It's a good tip, and not one I have seen before.

    My preferred version is to get a fabric hole punch (the revolving head kind are the best, as they come with varying hole sizes) and just punch loads of identical rivets out of thin plasticard. Very quick and easy, and no need to make holes in your model.

  3. Great tutorial. Thanks for doing the footwork to get it posted, Ron!

  4. This is a great way to make rivets. Although I use the Brita water filter method, a single filter will give up hundreds of rivets in different sizes.

  5. way to much work. Why do all that when you can get almost 400 resin rivets from the treadhead makers for under $15? I got a single pack of these, of different sizes (you shave them off the resin backing) from Calibre35, and done 3 tanks and 2 dreads, and still have over 3/4 of them left over. Sure its not free, but think of the time you spend, and these guys are very detailed.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Is it Christmas Rhino time already?
    It just turned November.

  8. @Sholto has got it right - fabric hole punch and plasticard. Very easy to quickly make a ton. Just apply by lifting the rivet with a small drill bit with blue tac on the end, put a dab of superglue on the rivet, apply, and done.

  9. Simple and very, very effective -- thanks for sharing it with us! :)


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