Easy Rivets on Film Finishes

Easy Rivets on Film Finishes

I thought I would share a quick and easy way that I have found to put rivets onto MonoKote or other plastic covering. Anytime I happen to be in a craft store, I always look around to see what I might be able to use on a model (you never know what you might find!). Well, I found this nifty little pizza cutter-looking tool. I’m not sure what it is really used for; instead of being a cutting blade it has rounded points all the way around.

So, on to how I use this to make rivets. It’s super easy! Just find a three-view of the airplane you want to replicate and mark where you want the rivets to go. Then hold a straightedge in place and roll away. Only apply light pressure, as you do not want to make any weak spots in the balsa; you just want to mark the covering. It’s that simple!

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | Easy Rivets on Film Finishes

Panel lines really dress up an ordinary ARF.

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | Easy Rivets on Film Finishes

Tracing wheels for sewing patterns like this one are readily available at craft stores. Lightly rolled over film covering on a model, they can create realistic panel lines. Use a straightedge to keep your panel lines even.

Text & photos by Dan Landis

Updated: December 14, 2021 — 4:32 PM


  1. I have been using them for years.

  2. It’s a dress maker’s wheel. If you use it on the inside of aluminum tape or covering, you can have raised rivets. You can see an example of what I mean here: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?1724609-Flyzone-Select-Scale-deHavilland-DHC-2-Beaver/page1113#post39093991

  3. Search Tracing Wheel or Ponce Wheel (Ponce wheel search typically returns sharper, pointed wheels.)

  4. It is a “tracer”. It is designed for dress makers that are using a pattern and don’t want to damage them. Carbon paper is laid on the fabric,carbon face down. Then the pattern on top. When the wheel is pressed against the stack and run around the pattern “cut here” lines on the pattern it will leave dotted lines on the fabric to cut on.
    The same method can be used with airplane plans using balsa instead of the fabric. This method doesn’t damage the plans.

  5. That looks like a dress makers tool for tracing patterns. My Grandmother had several and one was liberated for quite a few other uses!

  6. Yes, I use them too for simulating rivets.
    If one wants to make rivets farther apart, simply grind off every other “point” on the wheel and you will then have a rivet tool for use on larger aircraft!

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