2018 September 20    Metal & Shop


This is one of those projects that seems way more trivial and easy than it actually is.

The basic premise:  you've got this metal funnel, and you need to pour motor oil through it without it flopping over sideways.  And maybe it's in such a way that you can't conveniently hold the container and the funnel at the same time.  So we're going to rivet a metal tab to the side of the funnel.  This will allow the funnel to be braced with a piece of twine, wire, a cable tie, etc.

Even if you don't need to upgrade a galvanized funnel, the knowledge from this project can build up your basic shop skills.  (Metalworking can have some hazards;  please read the Disclaimer.)

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In This Article

Gearing Up

The Basic Idea

The Flat Stock, Part I

The Flat Stock, Part II

The Funnel

The Rivets


Gearing Up

This project doesn't need that many tools, but as usual, it's more than you might expect.

Copper Rivets and Burrs - #9 would probably work;  I used #12 rivets and burrs.  This link should have some.  For this project, 1/2" or 5/8" long rivets are OK, but 1" ones are more useful for a range of projects.

C.S. Osborne #12 Rivet Tool - This link should have them.  (Or, if you use #9 rivets, you need the #9 rivet tool)  There are ways to set rivets and burrs without this tool, but it makes the process much easier when you have the rivet setter.  I like rivets better than stitching for a lot of things, and actually if I'd riveted the buckles onto that Canon camera bag, it would be finished already instead of sitting around for a couple years waiting for me to stitch the other pieces on.  I like C.S. Osborne tools because they are good, and they are made in USA.

Diagonals or End Nippers to clip the rivet shanks to the correct length.  Channellock, made in USA!

Bench vise.  Very much required for this type of project, or just about any metalworking.  A cheap one will work OK for this purpose. 

Center Punch.  Doesn't weigh that much, doesn't cost that much... get a couple.  This is one of those tools that when you can't find it, it tends to hold up the whole works.  Make sure you get a center punch that's narrow enough so the point will fit through whatever holes you've drilled. 

Hammer.  I would highly recommend a 4 oz ball pein hammer for setting copper rivets, even if you have the Osborne rivet setter.  Try this link for one.

File.  Actually a half-round file works best for this project, because you're going to be de-burring a mildly concave surface.  A flat file doesn't work so well for that.

Hacksaw, if you need to cut a piece of flat stock down to the approximate size.

9/64" Drill Bit and something to use it with.  Even a bit brace will work for this project, but it would be very slow.  (Metal.)

5/16" Drill Bit - you will need to put a 5/16" hole in the end of the metal tab.  That is, if you want to hang the funnel up or tie it on to something else.

WD-40 or Tap Magic cutting fluid.  Not strictly necessary for this project, but helps greatly.  Don't get the "aluminum" Tap Magic unless you are drilling aluminum.  The "EP-Extra" variety is good for pretty much every metal, including brass, bronze, copper, steel... and aluminum, too.

Piece of flat metal, about 1/16" thick and at least 3/4" wide.  You'll need about a 1 3/4" to 2" length of it.  Three feet of brass flat stock would probably last many years for projects like this.  Aluminum should work OK too, as should 16- to 20-gauge steel. 

Table of Contents

The Basic Idea

It's very difficult to weld, braze, or solder something onto a galvanized funnel.  Solder sticks very poorly to galvanized;  brazing will get the metal hot enough to vaporize the zinc.  Welding, even more so.  I really didn't want to have to remove the galvanizing, because that would kind of defeat the purpose.

That's why I decided on rivets. 

So, let's say you want to attach a metal tab to the side of a galvanized funnel.  This will let you tie the funnel to something so it doesn't flop over when you're filling up your lawnmower or whatever. 

There are many other things you can rivet together with old-fashioned copper rivets;  this is just one example.  It's easy enough to adapt this for other projects.

Table of Contents

The Flat Stock, Part 1

Make sure the metal flat stock is cut to the desired size.  Whether to bend the piece at 90 degrees will depend on what angle you need to wire or string the funnel.  If you don't bend the flat stock at all, the funnel will have a handy tab that lets you hang it up on a nail.  But you still might have to offset-bend it so the piece can get around the funnel rim.

So, Step 1 is to prepare the basic shape and size of the flat stock, and maybe bend it to 90 degrees by putting it in the vise and hammering on it.

When you bend the metal, don't keep bending it back and forth.  That could make it snap off.  Try to bend it into the desired shape in just one or two steps.

Table of Contents

The Flat Stock, Part 2

Mark out the places where you want the rivets to go through.  These will be the holes through which you'll attach the flat stock to the funnel.  #12 rivets are going to need 9/64" holes.

At first I thought 1/8" holes would work OK.  I thought it would actually help if the holes were 1/64" undersized, because maybe it would make everything more solid (less rickety).  Later we'll see why that approach didn't work.

For #12 rivets, just use a 9/64" drill bit.  You'll probably want to center-punch the metal first, so the drill bit doesn't walk.  After center-punching, clamp the flat stock in the vise and drill it.

Use the half-round file to de-burr the metal.

I should mention that it would be smart to also drill a 5/16" hole in the other end of the tab.  I waited until the tab was already riveted on to the funnel, but what if you mess up?  (Later I'll detail this step, but it should go right here, while you're already drilling the piece for 9/64" holes.)

Table of Contents

The Funnel

Figure out where you want to attach the flat stock to the side of the funnel.  If you already have the holes drilled in the flat stock, you can use it as a template to mark the funnel through those holes. 

I actually center-punched the funnel through the holes in the flat stock.  To do this, I backed the funnel with an old hammer handle so the sheet metal wouldn't deform: 

Assorted pieces of wood scrap are useful for times like these. 

Table of Contents

The Rivets

First attempt using a 1/8" drill bit was not so great.  The rivet jammed.  By the time I got done removing it, the hole in the funnel was much larger than it would have been, had I only used a 9/64" bit in the first place.

So anyway, basically you rivet the bent piece of flat stock onto the side of the funnel.  Once the holes are drilled (and they're not unequal sizes, as they are in that photo), you put the metal pieces together and push the rivets through. 

I used a vise to provide some support while tapping the rivets through with a hammer:

Next, the burrs go onto the rivet shanks.  This can be done with an Osborne rivet setter, or with a piece of 1/2" diameter steel rod that has a 5/32" hole drilled at one end to a depth of about 1 inch.  (You would need a drill press or preferably a mini lathe to make that perfectly co-axial, though.)

I set these rivets with a 4-ounce ball pein hammer, because I don't have the correct rivet tool.  (I got a #9 rivet setter in a box of junk;  these are #12 rivets...).  However, the #9 rivet tool worked OK for setting the burrs. 

Basically you push the burr (a copper ring) as far as it will go onto the rivet shank.  Then you use the burr-setting portion of the tool to drive the copper ring farther down the shank.  You want to drive these on until they are literally clamping the pieces together.  Then you shorten the rivet shanks to about 1/16", maybe even 3/32", above the burrs.  Then, set the rivets by hammering out the ductile metal so that the burrs can't fall off. 

The backing anvil is a cross-pein hammer that I never got around to re-handling.  Very useful for tasks like this.

So there you go... the completed rivets.  (And by the way, I skipped the photo where I had to drill the 5/16" hole in the metal tab, because I had forgotten to do that earlier.)


This is one of those metalworking projects that seems ridiculously simple.  And it is, if only in concept.  The actual work is a bit more involved, and if you don't set a lot of rivets, a project like this could end up taking half a day by the time it's done.

It really helps to have the basic shop skills.  It also really helps to have all the tools and materials on the workbench before you start.  As usual, that's one of the most time-consuming aspects.

Projects like this are worth it because you'll have something durable, something made of metal... and above all, something fixable that you don't have to throw away.

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