Add Detail to Your Kits Using Rivets

This one’s long overdue. I’m just going to go through how I added the rivets onto my Zaku. It’s a great way to detail a kit, but getting the right parts may be difficult for some.

This was what I used – a pack of 50 brass rivets. Here’s some advice – try to find silver-coloured ones if possible so you need not paint them. Paint doesn’t really adhere fast to metal surfaces. I couldn’t find better-looking ones (like screws) with similar sizes so I stuck to this one. Also, since they are so tiny, it’s best to be left with some spares instead of needing every single one of them like I did. That way you won’t have to desperately search for them when you accidentally drop them somewhere.

Before priming the kit, I drilled holes for every round mold on the kit. Here you can see I’ve made a 0.5mm hole dead centre of the round mold. This will be a tight fit for the rivet as it’s 0.55mm. Of course, you’ll have to use the right size for your parts. If you drill holes the same size as the rivet, you might need to glue them in place at the end.

You can drill holes in locations of your own choosing. I managed to use up all 50 rivets on every visible mold.

Using the previously-made hole as a pilot hole, I drilled a larger 1.6mm hole to allow the rivet to sink into the surface. Take caution as you do not want to go all the way through the plastic.

Here’s a crude graphic to ilustrate what I’m trying to say. Once again, whether you want to do this depends on what shape your rivets are. For my case, there wasn’t really a need to do it as the shape of the rivet makes it stick out of the surface. I actually did it to get rid of the existing round molds and hide any holes that are off-centre.

While painting and assembly carried on as per normal, I had to paint the brass rivets to make them look silver.

It would be nearly impossible to paint them by holding them up piece by piece, so I rolled a lump of blu-tack and stuck the rivets on using a pair of tweezers. After some effort, all 50 of them were sitting nicely.

First, the pieces are primed. I went to use Mr. Surfacer instead of the Tamiya Primer I had because I read the Japanese on the Mr. Surfacer can and I was sure it could be used on metal.

Next, I sprayed gloss black as an undercoat for the silver paint. It’s supposed to bring out the shine.

Finally, I sprayed on Mr. Metal Color Chrome Silver. If you have a better chrome paint, go ahead and use it. Better still, just find silver-coloured rivets and you can spare yourself so much trouble.

I then picked the rivets one by one off the blu-tack. I noticed that the blu-tack leaves residue if it’s left on for several hours. I had to carefully remove the blu-tack residue from the rivets.

Here is the completed left hand of the Zaku with the holes for mounting the rivets. I used my thumb to push every single on of them into place. Here’s where the problem comes. Since they were a tight fit, my thumbs were sore after that. Also, they were tiny and I did not have any spares so I could not afford to lose any one of them. Lastly, it turned out that the paint could chip off the surface very easily, and since I did not have spares, several rivets were back to their brass colour.

Getting one to go on the leg. If the pins are too long, you may have to cut them or deepen the hole by drilling again so that the rivets can be inserted completely.

Finally, buff the surface using a cotton bud to smooth the paint and bring out the shine.

Minus-shaped screws would probably look better and more detailed than these round rivets.


11 thoughts on “Add Detail to Your Kits Using Rivets”

  1. One thing I use when driving rivets on aircraft is to use masking tape on the end of the rivet set *the metal end of the rivet gun* some are dished to fit the rounded rivets *called “button head” * this gives the rivet an unmarked appearance. For what you’re doing, a small tapered wooden dowel or a pin punch with a soft type masking tape or tissue covering the end will save your thumbs when pressing the rivets in… ( most definitely, wait until the paint is completely dry)

  2. Fantastic guide ^^ I love the illustration, clear cut and straight to the point! Oh by the way what glue will you recommend for attaching the rivets? Will normal super glue do?

    And the riveted blue tag is a splendid idea! Looks like a riveted mace too haha if your zaku is considering using a new weapon 😀

  3. I was thinking of ordering empti botles for paint and poring half the paint in the empti botle and then filling the other half of both with thiner

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