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How to attach A&C fitting to a belt
As we quite often receive leters with question "I've purchased some fittings from you but I don't know how to attach them to a belt. Could you explain, please?" and alike, we've decided to make an illustrated guide on how to fix A&C buckles, strapends and mounts to a leather strap to get a good well fit belt.
By the method of attaching A&C fittings can be divided into a few principal types:
1. Those that have thick pins on the back side designed to be riveted onto a belt.
2. Those that have holes to be riveted by means of separate rivets. (There are combined items which have both the thik pins and holes for separate rivets).
3. Fittings with thin pins designed to be bent down - these include mostly the early medieval items with some from later times, which seem to be handier to be attached like that (too small to be riveted or too fragile and flexible).
So, we'll base our explanation on attaching buckle EK80 and ex28 strapend to a leather strap. These fittings are of combined type - they have thick pins and holes for separate rivets.
For fixing the things to a belt you'll need the following meterials:
We usually make washers from a thin piece of copper or brass by means of a round punch and tinsnips. You may see them on the picture. If you can't make your own washer you can use ordinary modern industrial ones of the corresponding size.
We use our own "homecast" rivets which as well may be substituted with some modern ones - brass, copper or steel - rivets of all these metals fit and were used in the course of history for fixing fittings to a belt.
If a rivet doesn't fit into a hole in the buckle or strapend - just widen the hole with some sharp and narrow tool - scissors end or a knife - it is easy to do.
The instruments needed are the following from left to right:
Stage 1. Straighten the pins
When you are ready and have everithing needed, take your fittings and see if their pins are straight - ie. make sure that they
make a right angle with the surface of the buckle/strapend. As very often they are not - straighten them carefully with pliers.
Stage 2. Shaping the belt
When your fittings are ready, cut the leather strap to the needed length. Take the buckle and press it accurately against the place where it is intended to be. By means of this action you'll mark the places where the holes for pins should be made and where some leather should be cut so that the strap would fit into the buckle plate. Mark the holes for rivets with a pencil, awl or an ordinary nail through the hole in the buckle plate.
This is what the marks on the leather look like after pressing:
Then punch the holes in the places where the marks of the pressed pins have remained. If you don't have a punch pierce the holes with any sharp tool. Mind that the holes must let the 3-4 mm pins be inserted into.
Then cut the edges so that the strap would fit tightly into the inside of the buckle plate.
You have to get this, after all:
Stage 3. Mushrooming Rivets
After you've inserted your belt into the buckle plate - put on the washers onto the protruding parts of the buckle pins and press them slightly so that they would stay in place tightly to the leather.
Then take cutting pliers and cut the pins so that only 1-1.5 mm would leave over the washers. If you leave the pins too long they might bend while mushrooming or spare metal would break off the rivet. There is an operation which may ease the process: as you can see on the picture - the top of the pins look wedge-shaped being cut off. It is much easier to mushroom a rivet if it's top is flat. So - take a file, bore-machine with a grinding tool and flatten the top of rivets. If you are sure enough to smash rivets without flattening - omit this.
Then place the buckle on an anvil - we usualy use a piece of lead as it is soft enough not to harm the surface of the buckle. If you don have lead but have a steel anvil - take a piece of cloth or thin leather and put under the buckle. Holding washer in place with an awl or just a nail, carefully smach the rivet's top over the washer with backside (narrow side) of a hammer.
Then make the same with separate rivets at the rear of the buckle plate. As pins on our cast fittings may have slightly different thickness - do not strike very hard with your hammer as thinner pins may bend. Begin with weak, careful strokes.
After you've mushroomed all pins the result should look like this:
As you've attached the buckle, make the same with the strapend. In all, for strapend the process looks the same as for the buckle - the shape of the belt end is slightly different.
After both your fittings are attached, make sure that the smashed pins are smooth enough not to hook your clothes. If they are not - smooth them with a file or a sand paper.
Your belt is ready - enjoy!
If your fittings have thick pins, you'll have to do the following:
Stage 1 is the same as with the buckle above - straightening the pins with pliers so that they would make the right angle with the body of the fitting.
Stage 2 is also the same - press the fitting accurately to the place where it should be so that the pins would leave marks on the leather.
Stage 3 - pierce holes with an awl. It will be more comfortable to insert the pins into the holes if they are a bit wider then the pins - make the holes with a thick awl. If you have a small punch or a driiling machine - you may also make hole with these instruments.
Stage 4 - insert the fitting into the holes, make sure that it is in the right place and bend down carefully the pins as shown on the picture. Do not make it with a jerk - take the tip of the pin with pliers and bend it down slowly. After you've made sure that the pin is not going to break - press it to the leather with pliers of strike twice lightly with a hammer.
Stage 5 Cut the leather strap to the shape of the fitting, if needed.
Enjoy your belt!
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