The October issue of Beads and Beyond has just come out and, together with the owl pendant above (which was inspired by the beautiful ceramic owl that my friend Hellie gave me for Christmas last year), I've also written a masterclass on using rivets in your work. I went through a stage of not using rivets much, but I love them again now, and they are much easier to do than you might think at first. The trickiest parts I find are cutting just the right length of wire or tube for the rivet, and cutting the fiddly short length of tube straight. However, the second part of that is made much easier with a joint leveller, a great tool that holds your tube (or thick wire) still for you while you cut it. It's called a joint leveller as the main use in jewellery making for tube is for making small hinges on items such as bangles and lockets, and when making these you need to make sure that the ends of the tube are level. This tool not only holds the tube in place but guides the blade so that you cut straight across the tube.
I showed a picture of my joint leveller in the masterclass and wrote about it, but as I'm always limited by both word count and the number of photos I can include I thought I'd write a bit more about it here. It was pretty difficult for T to get decent photos of me using the joint leveller, but he did his best! I've tried to show how I hold and use it. You can get a couple of different designs of joint levellers. The simplest (and therefore the cheapest) just holds the tube for you in a clamp that has a handle. The next one up (mine, pictured above) has a sliding stopper, and the next one above that (and the most expensive) has a sliding stopper that has a gauge on it it.
The sliding stopper is used to hold the tube at the correct length for cutting - undo the screw, slide the stopper to the correct position, do the screw up again and pop in the tube - or in this case, the thick square wire. With a gauge its easier to set the leveller to allow you to cut at a particular length, but given the price difference between the two models I just use a rular! The distance to measure is that between the slot where the blade goes and the end of the slide.
The metal bar then comes over to hold the tube in place while you are cutting. I hold the bar down with my thumb, hold the handle in my fist, and rest the leveller on top of my bench peg. The saw blade then goes inside the slot, and away you go!
Btw, the two pieces of square wire that I cut off while taking the photos for this tutorial were sanded and turned into these simple textured stud earrings.