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Riveted handles on cookware


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My cookware collection includes pieces from a number of manufacturers. One thing that I simply don't understand is why any of them think that riveted handles are a good idea. From what I've read, All-Clad is the leader in making this sound like a good thing, but many cookware lines have them, including Mauviel, Kitchenaid, the new Le Creuset stainless line, and Analon. Scanpan's new line has riveted handles, even though the old line didn't.

Why does anyone think this is a good idea? Maybe at one point in cookware manufacturing riveting was the only way to ensure that the handle stayed on, but this is certainly no longer true. Demeyere proves this -- its handles are welded, and in my almost 10 years of working for cookware stores, I've only seen one Demeyere pan returned because of faulty welding, and that was because the lid handle came off (not to malign my customers, but the lid had definitely been dropped).

Riveted handles suck. They collect crud; they make it impossible to cleanly scrape the inside of the pan. (All Clad even puts rivets in the handles of its ridiculously expensive measuring cups -- how silly is that?) So what's the deal? Why is Demeyere virtually alone in welding handles to its pans, so that the inside of the pan is smooth?

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My guess, Janet, is that is is simpler and easier and requires less engineering.

But, your topic struck a note with me today as I washed the gunk off of the rivets in on Calphalon skillet, and one All-Clas saucepan (gunkwhich no dishwasher will touch, BTW).

And, then I was reminded of a couple of really old Cuiz pans. One is a suacepan with a wooden handle, which was some sort of givewawy when there was some sort of lawsuit. I have loved this 2 quarter, and it has no rivets, so it is a dream. Then, there is the little skillet Paul bought me when we were but two -- not 5. Not a rivet to be seen. I just wish it was bigger so eggs for five didn't take so long that by the time the last was served the first was long gone from the table!

Hmmm. I'll ask the engineer (Paul) later tonight when the kiddies are all tucked in.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I don't think riveting is easier than spot-welding; in manufacturing the opposite is usually considered the case. It looks to me like rivets are used on pot handles mainly in situations where spot welding isn't practical.

I've heard that one reason All-Clad say riveting is a good idea is that is that it's not easy to spot-weld to tri-ply so they don't have that option, but I don't know enough about that material to know if this is the case. But All-Clad and some similar brands use forged or cast handles which aren't easy to spot-weld. I'm pretty sure they rivet because, with the materials they use, welding won't work.

Ditto for aluminum pots; they usually have steel handles and it's not easy to weld steel to aluminum, and welding aluminum to aluminum is a more expensive process than welding steel. Plus if the pot is anodized, you would have to remove the anodizing before welding. So these are also usually riveted.

But if you have stamped stainless handles and a one-ply-sided stainless pot, spot welding is the cheapest, most effective and most sanitary way to go. I can't see any reason to use rivets in that construction, and most brands don't.

I remember the guarantee on welded a pot I got years ago (Paderno? Lagostina? I can't remember) saying that if you put spot-welded handles in a very hot oven, the welds can fail. I've never seen this happen and it hasn't stopped me from putting pots in ovens. I've had riveted pot handles work loose but I've never had a welded one fail.

Let's see what the engineer says; I'm just a production guy.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Hi,

A few years ago I saw an internet listing for a line of cookware that used spot welded handles. The listing included an inflated list of the particular benefits of their cookware including the statement that the spot welded handles eliminate those pesky rivets dropping into your food.

I wonder how Demeyere manages to weld with their multi-ply construction.

Tim

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Also, I believe that part of the engineering thought is that there is less heat transfer to the handle when it it riveted. I know this seems to be true in a highly unscientific, but 25 year long study, conducted in kitchens all across the New Orleans area-by me. :wink:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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It's been a long while since my gig at Williams-Sonoma, so spot-welding may have improved, but I used to look at those ridiculously expensive welded Cuisinart brand pans we sold and thank my lucky stars that we'd had the sense to buy riveted stuff. I am large, clumsy and very hard on things: computers, bicycles, whatever -- I break them. I want a pot that even I can't fuck up and I don't trust those cheesy little welds for a second.

And, as a former professional dishwasher (my wife says the one thing I do artfully and efficiently is clean the kitchen), I guess I don't find it hard to clean the little buggers. Just takes a little fingernail action.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I think it must be true that a riveted handle is more securely fastened to the pan than a welded handle. Demeyere can use welded handles because the pans are made of relatively light aluminum.

For heavy copper pans that are designed get heavy commercial use slammed around on a stove, the stronger rivets must make a difference. It also may be the case that it would be difficult or impossible to securely weld a solid iron handle to relatively soft copper, and this may also be an issue with respect to aluminum, which is also fairly soft. I note that many of the best professional stainless steel lines (e.g., Sitram) have welded handles. I note also that Mauviel and Bourgeat use riveted handles on their copper and aluminum lines, but use welding on their stainless steel lines.

As for why makers like All-Clad use rivets even on fully clad lines that seem like they could support welding, I think there are two reasons: First, it may not make any sense to use different technology to attach the handles on the different lines. If All-Clad and Calphalon must use rivets for their pans with an aluminum exterior, it's a lot simpler and easier to just use rivets for every pan. Second, manufacturers like All-Clad and Calphalon derive more than half their value from their looks. In particular, they have determined that a "professional looking" appearance is a real selling point. All-Clad has decided that rivets, even when not needed (e.g., in a mixing cup) contribute to the image that incents people to believe that their huge markups are worth it.

As for cleaning aroung the rivets, I find that a squirt of oven cleaner is all that's needed.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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All my cookware (different brands, different materials) has riveted handles ... it makes sense to me, based largely on HKDave's reasoning. I don't find them that hard to clean, and I don't actually care that much about bringing the edges of the rivets to a mirror polish. They're just going to get covered in hot food again tomorrow.

The one piece that raises my eyebrows is a little calphalon butter warmer, which weighs around 6 ounces, and has a handle attached with not two but THREE industrial strength rivets. I guess it's worth the peace of mind, knowing that next time I wield a dangerous load of melted butter from one burner to the other, even if two rivets fail I still have some backup.

Notes from the underbelly

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Spot welding which is actually accomplished by a potential difference to transfer an electrical current to fuse the metal is good for non stress bearing connections to hold things together. Where there is sufficient stress the spot welds will break. Welding on thin material which is what pots and pans are, is very difficult to avoid blow through. Brasing is just not strong enough. Riveting is economical, strong and lasting. I use Falk exclusively and I guarantee, without the rivets, the handles would not be attached very long if attached by any other method of welding.-Dick

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I want all of my heavier pots, pans, skillets, roasters and etc., riveted.

Unless one has experience of having a weld fail, while lifting a full roasting pan from an oven and dumping the entire contents onto the oven door and floor with a few (very hot) splashes onto feet and legs, one would have no need to consider this question.

Wikipedia has this entry:

"Intergranular corrosion

Some compositions of stainless steel are prone to intergranular corrosion when exposed to certain environments. When heated to around 700 °C, chromium carbide forms at the intergranular boundaries, depleting the grain edges of chromium, impairing their corrosion resistance. Steel in such condition is called sensitized. Steels with carbon content 0.06% undergo sensitization in about 2 minutes, while steels with carbon content under 0.02% are not sensitive to it.

Intergranular corrosion

A special case of intergranular corrosion is called 'weld decay' or 'knifeline attack'(KLA). Due to the elevated temperatures of welding the stainless steel can be sensitized very locally along the weld. The chromium depletion creates a galvanic couple with the well-protected alloy nearby in highly corrosive environments. As the name 'knifeline attack' implies, this is limited to a small zone, often only a few micrometres across, which causes it to proceed more rapidly. This zone is very near the weld, making it even less noticeable[5]."

In my case, when the first weld gave way it left a pit in the metal and the plate that held one side of the handle bent out which then pulled the other weld out of the metal. causing the handle to twist and slip out of my hand.

This was not an inexpensive roasting pan, it was heavy stainless steel with handles that swiveled up or down so they would lay flat against the sides of the pan. It was by no means new, but had not been used frequently nor had it been abused in any way.

Since that time (1960s) I have used only cookware with riveted handles or, in the case of cast iron or cast aluminum, handles that part of the casting, not applied by welding.

Incidentally, it is true that copper welding is difficult because it burns right through the copper. Some lightweight vessels such as molds, pudding steamers, measuring cups, have handles that are connected by brazing but you can see that the attachments are wide, covering a much larger area than a weld and even at that, those joinings can be disrupted by heat, stress, etc.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Welding seems like a reasonable option for heavy, unfinished aluminum. It holds together much thinner aluminum tubing for racing bike frames without too many issues. Big pieces of bar-stock handle tig welded or mig welded to a 5mm thick aluminum stock pot should be fine. I'm happy to have the rivets on all the other things.

Notes from the underbelly

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I was a manufacturing and design engineer for thirty years. The other thirty I spent keeping my eyes open and learning. One wants rivets for strength and durability. Welds are for saving money. That's it.

Ray

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I was a manufacturing and design engineer for thirty years. The other thirty I spent keeping my eyes open and learning. One wants rivets for strength and durability. Welds are for saving money. That's it.

Ray

My husband agreed with this. The welded handles on the two Cuisinart pans I have are only really practical because the pans are small and will never hold much weight.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I don't have a problem with rivets qua rivets. I have a problem when the pot, the handle, and the rivet are three different types of metal (more if there's a lining or cladding to the pot.) Galvanic corrosion and loose handles show up in a remarkably short time, with the average cooking liquid being noticeably saltier and more acidic than perhaps it should be for metal preservation.

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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Having worked a lot with bicycles in college, I've got to say that the claim that you can't get good strength from a weld is hard to swallow. Now it's true that cookware gets heated to temperatures in excess of what bicycles endure, but in terms of lateral force no cookware is ever going to experience the stresses of a mountain bike used in competition, yet these bikes, which can be made from steel or aluminum (among other materials) are (or were at the time) TIG welded and extremely strong at the joints. (TIG, which I think stands for tungsten inert gas, is a type of welding where you push all the air out of the system with an inert shielding gas so you can get a really good weld with no atmospheric contamination.) Frames are in my experience as likely to break in the middle of a tube than at a joint -- the theory at least with TIG/GTAW welding is that the weld is stronger than the metal itself, kind of like supergluing two pieces of paper together -- and if they do break at the joint it's often due to a manufacturing defect. I don't think I ever saw a frame come apart at a joint. And we're talking about thin tubes -- as thin as .7 mm, though usually more like 1.5, which is in any event thinner than most pot walls (Demeyere professional is something like 4.5 mm thick, which is thicker probably than any steel bicycle tube wall). The ends of the tubes are butted, meaning the thickness increases near the joint -- that too shouldn't be any different with a pot handle.

As an empirical matter, Demeyere and Sitram are two excellent brands and both make many welded products that are used in professional kitchens. I think there may be a psychological component, that people believe intuitively that three rivets must be stronger than a weld because the rivets, well, you can see how they hold the thing together. However, when you think about the joint, a weld can join around the entire circumference of the joint, whereas three rivets put all the stress on three small points. If one rivet comes the slightest bit loose, the jiggling of the handle over time can easily pull the whole thing apart. I mean, I'd love to see a bicycle frame fastened with rivets -- I wonder how long that would hold up. Three minutes on a Vermont ski trail? Welding, done right, is very strong. I've seen plenty of rivets come off cookware. I haven't yet seen a quality piece of welded cookware come apart -- cheap crap made in slave labor camps, yes, but not Demeyere or Sitram. I'm going on something like 12 years with a Sitram saucier that I use for a ton of different types of cooking. Demeyere, for its part, uses a 7-ply material on some of its lines, but the welds still seem to hold. I'd actually love to see the inside of a Demeyere weld, because it doesn't seem to be a straight tube-to-wall weld. The handle seems to go into a square plate of some sort that's fastened to the pot wall. I wonder what's fastened where and how.

The one thing I can see as a possible problem is the welding of specific materials, especially unlike ones. So maybe copper isn't a good candidate, and I guess cast iron to copper seems like it would be a difficult weld, though I know GTAW is used on copper alloys all the time. But if we're talking stainless to stainless it's hard to see a theoretical problem with that.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I suspect these issues with welding concern the kinds of spot welds that we see in cookware, where two pieces of sheetmetal are connected with very low surface area welds.

TIG and MIG welds, in applications where you have substantial metal contact, are going to be stronger than any kind of rivet connection could ever be. A bike frame held together with rivets wouldn't hold together for long. The switch from rivets to welding allowed steel-framed sky scrapers to be made with much lighter girders, because the connections are so much stronger.

I just don't know if it's possible to get these benefits from welds in clad metal pans, or other pan constructions where you're attaching pieces of stainless steel that are a fraction of a milimeter thick. In a clad pan, the walls seem to be thinner than bicycle tubing. At the butted end, most road bike frames are .5mm to .9mm if they're steel. These steels are made of chrome moly and nickel chrome moly alloys that are way, way stronger than the 300 series stainless steels used in cookware. And the welded frames are typically heat treated after welding, which i suspect happens at temperatures that would destroy a clad metal pan.

On the topic of galvanic corosion, or rivets working loose from thermal expansion, has anyone seen this happen on a high quality pan? I just don't know what the material science would be for some of the combinations we use. I can imagine the iron/steel/copper/s.s. sandwich of my copper cookware working like a car battery and self destructing in a matter of days, but it doesn't seem to happen. This kind of construction has been around almost forever (at least the tin lined versions).

Clad metals in general would seem like a questionable idea for use at cooking temperatures, except in reality they have such a good track record. I've never heard of the stainless steel delaminating from aluminum or copper. Does it ever happen?

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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I have a huge copper jam pot that has been in my family since the 1880s, with heavy bronze handles and 3 rivet heads almost an inch in diameter holding each handle tightly to the pot.

There is no evidence of loosening and as far as cleaning around the rivet heads, I have always just used a stiff brush. For the burnt-on bits around the rivets on my SS All-Clad, I spray on a bit of Carbon-Off, let it sit for a few minutes then use a stiff brush and hot water.

I keep nail brushes in a little dish next to the sink that has water with a few drops of bleach, changed every morning. I use these brushes to scrub the depressions in plastic lids, plastic, metal or silicone spatulas, slotted spoons, wooden utensils, wire and metal colanders, etc., because nothing else works quite as well to get into those tight places where sticky, oily and other food debris wants to hide.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Okay so I'm looking at my one piece of Demeyere stainless. I don't know what line it's from -- on the back it just says "demeyere 18/10 induction." It does, as you suggest, seem to be spot welded. Specifically the handle goes into a plate/sleeve, and that plate/sleeve seems to be welded to the pot wall in four places. However in the various catalogs there's reference to "round sanitary welds" on other lines, which I imagine are more like bicycle frame welds.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Welds don't flex with heat and cold the way that rivets do. Things built with rivets, particularly those that are under high differential stress on a regular basis from weight stress and temp change, such as pots and pans and bridges (Sydney Harbor Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge (rivets have now been replaced with tempered steel nuts and bolts, which are even stronger), Brooklyn Bridge, and the longest rail bridge in North America, the Huey P Long Bridge), seem to hold together for a very long time with not so much maintenance. Welds, on the other hand, will eventually break with heat and flex from stress-which is why you generally don't see structures that will have to flex, such as roadways, built with welds.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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There may also be concern about the manner of failure.

If there are three rivets, one is going to go first, and even if it quickly causes the other two to fail, there is time to notice, react and quickly put the pan down. When a weld goes, there it goes. Hot stuff everywhere. Its a much more dangerous mode of failure.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Bicycles?

Steel frames are brazed, that's where the lug designs came from, to allow one to see the braze flowing along the joint not just for a design. Al came along and was TIG welded but the joints are subject to fatigue failure and at one time Cannondale offered a discount on a new frame if you turned in your old one. Any accident on an Al or Carbon frame for that matter is time for a new frame. Ask George Hincapie after Paris-Roubiai! I ride steel on both my 'Yo Eddy' Mtn bike and my racing road bikes. I never worked in a bike shop but was a USCF road racer (my son rode on the track) and did all our own maintenance. Did i mention degrees in Nuclear Engineering with Graduate study and research in Metalurgy for credentials?

You are talking apples and oranges when you compare the different welding techniques and applications used in other products to pots and pans fabrication. You simply can't equate the stress on a tube joint in bicycle fabrication to a handle on a pot.

Sure for a light weight pot, a spot weld or some other sort of welding process may work for a while on cheap light cookware, but I guarantee that it will not have the durability of a rivet. -Dick

Edited by budrichard (log)
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Sure for a light weight pot, a spot weld or some other sort of welding process may work for a while on cheap light cookware, but I guarantee that it will not have the durability of a rivet.

And Demeyere guarantees that it will, with a 30-year guarantee. The company has been in business since 1908, so I've got to assign some credibility to that guarantee.

Likewise, both Sitram and Demeyere (not to mention the welded Matfer/Bourgeat lines) enjoy widespread professional use. I don't know what the market statistics would say, but anecdotally I see Sitram in more serious professional kitchens than pretty much anything else. The ultra-luxe places with showcase kitchens may be using Bourgeat, but once you get to the next level of kitchen Sitram is pervasive.

So, while theoretical arguments are all well and good, the real-world testimony of the community of culinary professionals, as well as folks here who have worked with high-quality welded cookware, is that welding works very well indeed.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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1) I bought a decent 12" aluminum sautee pan with whatever it is they use for handles--some kind of bronze alloy?-- riveted on. A year and a couple months later, the handle was wobbly. I was using it at home and I wasn't using it to drive spikes or pry tire beads loose, so wha?....

Curious, I cut the handle off. Each of the three rivets had thinned considerably (less than .05", but measurable) where they passed through the handle, and there was evidence of corrosion on the aluminum of the pan under the rivet heads. Galvanic corrosion, sure enough, no lie. Now I use Vollrath, and have had no problems like that.

B) There are welds and then there are welds. Big difference between a nice, neat TIG seam done by hand that looks like a tiny little lava flow, and two or three spot-welds done by robot. Even a seamed weld will generally fail progressively, but spot-welds--there isn't enough metal, not enough ass on the damn thing, for a failure to be anything but immediate. Or perceived as immediate; if it fails over the span of two or three seconds, I guess that's progressive failure; it seems immediate when you're in danger of losing something yummy to gravity's inexorable tug.

At least with rivets, if you were of a mind to, you could replace them with stove bolts. Re-welding a handle back on seems like a fools errand.

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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. . . . .

I've heard that one reason All-Clad say riveting is a good idea is that is that it's not easy to spot-weld to tri-ply so they don't have that option, but I don't know enough about that material to know if this is the case. But All-Clad and some similar brands use forged or cast handles which aren't easy to spot-weld. I'm pretty sure they rivet because, with the materials they use, welding won't work.

. . . .

But if you have stamped stainless handles and a one-ply-sided stainless pot, spot welding is the cheapest, most effective and most sanitary way to go. I can't see any reason to use rivets in that construction, and most brands don't.

. . . . .

Every pot and pan in the Demeyere Scirocco has cast and welded stainless steel handles. The line includes both single-gauge and fully clad pieces. Sitram (except, I think, for the Cucina line) and a few of the Demeyere lines have tubular handles, all welded. The tubular constuction is no doubt lighter, as you aver. (I'd argue that these are actually superior handles, but that's for another topic.)

It's been a long while since my gig at Williams-Sonoma, so spot-welding may have improved, but I used to look at those ridiculously expensive welded Cuisinart brand pans we sold and thank my lucky stars that we'd had the sense to buy riveted stuff.  I am large, clumsy and very hard on things: computers, bicycles, whatever -- I break them.  I want a pot that even I can't fuck up and I don't trust those cheesy little welds for a second.

. . . .

I'm not that large, but I'd put my clumsiness up against yours any day! I still have a couple of those original Cuisinart pieces. The wooden parts of the handles don't look so great, but the welds are just fine. How old is that stuff? Close to 20 years, I think.

I think it must be true that a riveted handle is more securely fastened to the pan than a welded handle.  Demeyere can use welded handles because the pans are made of relatively light aluminum.

. . . .

Um. Everything Demeyere makes has a stainless-steel exterior. Except for their pressure cookers, the same is true of everything Sitram makes at the comsumer level.

As for why makers like All-Clad use rivets even on fully clad lines that seem like they could support welding, I think there are two reasons:  First, it may not make any sense to use different technology to attach the handles on the different lines.  If All-Clad and Calphalon must use rivets for their pans with an aluminum exterior, it's a lot simpler and easier to just use rivets for every pan.  Second, manufacturers like All-Clad and Calphalon derive more than half their value from their looks.  In particular, they have determined that a "professional looking" appearance is a real selling point.  All-Clad has decided that rivets, even when not needed (e.g., in a mixing cup) contribute to the image that incents people to believe that their huge markups are worth it.

. . . .

I'm sure you're onto something here. It's amusing that this image of "professional" cookware mostly likely comes from famous chefs using consumer-level All-Clad on TV shows. The smartest thing All-Clad ever did was to ship tons of their product to the Food Network.
Bicycles?. . . .

Sure for a light weight pot, a spot weld or some other sort of welding process may work for a while on cheap light cookware, but I guarantee that it will not have the durability of a rivet. -Dick

There's nothing lightweight about Demeyere or Sitram cookware. I'd venture to say that, pan for pan, if All-Clad is heavier, the difference is probably roughly equal to the weight of . . . the rivets (Falk, using all that copper, isn't eligible for this contest). I have a 9-quart Sitram sauce pot with, yes, a welded handle. It would have been nice had they included a helper handle, but they didn't, and if the weld breaks, they'll replace the pot for as long as I'm alive.
. . . .

At least with rivets, if you were of a mind to, you could replace them with stove bolts.  Re-welding a handle back on seems like a fools errand.

Or you could just return it for repair or replacement.

I'm amused by the excuses made for one of Janet's original complaints: "They collect crud; they make it impossible to cleanly scrape the inside of the pan." Sure, you can pull out the Easy-Off, apply extra elbow grease or sacrifice a fingernail to the cause. But why would you want to?

Edited by Dave the Cook (log)

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I'm amused by the excuses made for one of Janet's original complaints: "They collect crud; they make it impossible to cleanly scrape the inside of the pan." Sure, you can pull out the Easy-Off, apply extra elbow grease or sacrifice a fingernail to the cause. But why would you want to?

I know nothing about the science of welding vs riveting, but frankly, I've never had a problem cleaning the rivets on my All Clad. And I've never had to employ any of these techniques.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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