One of the wonderful things about working in steel is that you get to see the full breadth of industry that uses steel as an integral part. Although many still have the idea that steel is merely about heavy industry, it’s genuinely integral to our modern way of life, from supporting glass skyscrapers in every modern city to nanometre perfect medical implements to modern oil drilling equipment that withstands incredible heat and pressure.
There is, however, a wonderful curiosity in steel, whereby as the research and science of steel has made it a futuristic product, we still have a need of old products and specifications. One such curiosity is below –
This fascinating object, supplied by our friends at Myers Blacksmiths, is an old style rivet, a heavyweight pin used to join large sections and plates of metal in older engineering works. While the rest of the world insists on constant progress, whereby everything becomes lighter, stronger and shinier, this sturdy piece of engineering that’s been round for hundreds of years is still needed and used today.
These rivets have been famously used on many large engineering projects and formed part of the beauty of the piece, with the visible rivets being part of the form and even decoration of the piece. If you happen to catch Wallace and Gromit in A Grand Day Out, there’s a brilliant visual gag about Wallace becoming a rocket scientist and building a spaceship… but building it from plate metal with visible rivets, making the sleek futuristic world of space travel look distinctly Victorian and industrial!
These rivets are a brilliant insight into the past through modern needs. Each rivet is still a production of skill and experience, as every one is hand forged and are required to repair old boilers, steam engines, ships and bridges. Although we like to think of ourselves as light-years ahead of the Industrial Revolution, items like these rivets are a great reminder that we still need them and we’re still linked to those times. Being able to handle solid and skilfully engineered products such as this rivet is a great way to realise how versatile and vital steel still is in building our modern world.