Quietfire Design's
Techniques Gallery

Eyelet Setting Primer
©2008 Suzanne Cannon

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This article first appeared in the April 2004 issue of byhand

As you can see, not all 1/8" eyelets are the same length!

Firstly let me say that not all eyelets are created the same.

Some are much harder than others, which makes them more difficult to set. Some brands of eyelets are extremely hard to set - usually these are coloured brass. Anodized aluminum eyelets are much more easily set, as are real copper. However, most companies don't tell you what their eyelets are made from, you have to buy them to find out....

1/8" eyelets
1/8" Long eyelet
Eyelet Washers (sorry, we no longer carry this item)
Anywhere punch
cutting mats
Quietfire Eyelet Setter


Most paper artists are currently using the 1/8" eyelets. These eyelets have a barrel that measures approximately 1/8" diameter. The flange which comes out over the paper is often 3/16" (not quite 1/4" wide). The Long eyelet goes through bookboard. Don't try using a long eyelet where a short one will do. The long eyelets just have too much metal in the barrel and they can't bend back enough to form a nice flange.
Punching the holes

If you use a hole punch that is 1/8" wide, sometimes, depending on the brand of punch, the hole that you create is too large. This is not such a big concern if the hole is in paper, but if you are punching fabric or bookcloth, you want to use a smaller size punch. This is why Quietfire carries the Anywhere punch with the variety of bits.
(The Anywhere Punch Biggie has larger size bits useful for punching holes for Chicago Screws)
I use the smallest, or next to smallest size bit when punching fabric. Even bookcloth has some stretch, and an eyelet set in it will pop out if the hole is too large.

One blow of the hammer on this punch and you have your hole - these puppies are sharp!

NOTE: when you use a punch, make sure the work surface is sturdy.
I like to use a cutting mat under the surface so not to dull the punch, and its important to position the mat over a table leg. Some plastic tables have too much bounce in them! I teach at one location and there is no way you can punch a hole when working on the table, you have to get down on the floor to punch your holes! The floor is sturdy.....

The punch tips sometimes get jammed and have to be cleaned out. I use my awl to carefully pick the stuff out the way it went in. Do this with caution - you don't want to damage the tip of the punch! (or the awl for that matter....)

A note about hammers: The heavier the hammer, the less pounding needed. One gentle whack of a framing (heavy) hammer does the trick! Make sure your punch or eyelet setter is vertical when hit and not tilted to one side

Many people ask me about the Japanese Screw Punch.
They are silent and sharp and wonderful for paper, but I like the Anywhere Punch - unless you do your projects in the middle of the night!


Setting the Eyelet

The eyelet setter is an extremely important tool. You may have found that you don't get a nicely formed eyelet when you have pounded them.

The first eyelet setter I had was the cone shaped one seen on the bottom left. I was not happy with my set eyelets. It wasn't until I discovered the nipple-shaped setter (above, left) that I discovered true eyelet setting happiness! This setter creates a rolled flange that looks almost identical to the front side. I really like this look! The nipple-shaped setter is the only one I carry.

There are other setters that appear flat to look at, and they work quite well, but they split the back of the eyelet. I'm not keen on that look at all especially if you can see the back when you flip your project over.


Place your eyelet on the cutting mat with the factory flange on the mat, slide the pre-punched paper or fabric over the top. Place the nipple of the setter inside the barrel of the eyelet, making sure the setter is straight up and down and tap the setter with the hammer. The flange should start to roll with the first strike of the hammer. After a while, you'll get a feel for it and know exactly how hard to strike the eyelet (and how many times) to get the perfect set.

If you're tempted to use an anvil under your eyelet when setting, you may find the factory edge will become misshapen.

Another tip if you are adding eyelets to fabric:

Eyelet Washers are a wonderful asset. Washers can be added to both sides of the eyelet if there is enough room and really help prevent the eyelet falling out due to the fabric stretching.

If you need to remove an eyelet....   I removed the eyelet with pliers - Crush the eyelet carefully and pull it gently out.

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