Rare Ironworkers Rivet Throwing Tongs

Throwing red hot rivets is a lost art. Custom display stands made for turn of the century Industrial Age tools. Industrial artifacts made into art objects.

Before ironworkers used bolts to connect beams, they used rivets. The ironworkers worked in four-man teams. When a rivet reached the required heat, the thrower removed it from the portable furnace with this long tong. Then, using the tongs, he threw it to the catcher, who caught it in a tin scoop. This required special accuracy because the catcher could only move a certain distance to either side (often times was straddling a steel beam), and the rivet was red hot. The “bucker upper”, using shorter tongs similar to the thrower, would take the rivet and place it into the hole. Lastly, the riveter would set the rivet with a pneumatic rivet setter.

Sometimes, skilled ironworkers would sling rivets 50 ft, and through 2 or 3 stories of framework to the catcher, with this long pair of tongs. The catcher would be situated so as to keep the rest of the team supplied with rivets. 

Links to videos that exemplify actual rivet throwing:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miU8lxASYfg (towards end of video)

  • Manufacturer: Hand-wrought iron, Blacksmith
  • Date: 1870 -1940 During the Industrial Boom first half of 19th Century, the joining technique first commonly used was rivets in metal tools, boiler plates, steam engines, railways, shipbuilding, bridges and planes. By the mid-1800s rivets were also used in the construction of architectural buildings and skyscrapers. (I-beams were invented in 1849, skyscrapers 1880's). Other technologies of joining became available replacing rivets: electric arc welding, 1930 and high-strength bolts, 1960's. 
  • Geography: New York 
  • Culture: American
  • Medium:Hand forged wrought iron
  • Dimensions:
  • Classification:Work & Industry: Steel
  • Commonality:Museum Rare Piece of History