How to Remove Rivets

What is a Rivet and how do you define it?

When you hear the term “rivet”, and think of Rosie, an industrious woman who was a rivet maker, that would be the time period in which you are referring to. Rivets were used to join steel plates before the advent of the structural bolt. These rivets would have been used to build bridges, skyscrapers and tanks as well as airplanes and ships.

These rivets were made of thick iron plugs that had mushroom-shaped heads and were then heated to red-hot before being placed in holes in the steel. One worker applied pressure on the head and another worker pounded the tail with a pneumatic or manual hammer.

There are several types of rivets

Today, the most common type of rivet you’ll encounter is a smaller and lighter-duty version known as a “pop” or blind rivet. “Pop rivet” is actually the generic term for Stanley Engineered Fastenings’ POP brand rivets.

Pop rivets can be used to join two pieces, such as aluminum or plastic, from one side. This eliminates the need for access to the back. They are used most often to connect sections of gutters or downspout fittings around the house. Pop rivets are made of soft metals like aluminum or copper and consist of a small, often referred to as a mandrel-shaped nail that is inserted into a tube.

How to Install a Pop Rivet

After aligning the sections to be riveted, a hole is drilled through each layer to be joined.

Insert the rivet into the hole. Then, with a rivet gun, the mandrel is pulled through the tube. The tube will swell as the mandrel is pulled out, locking the two pieces together.

The rivet is then flush with the material’s surface after the mandrel breaks off at a designated weak spot. The entire process is quite simple, even though it sounds complicated. It takes only a few seconds.

Steps to Remove Rivets

Sometimes, it’s necessary to reverse the process and take out the rivet. You may have to remove rivets when you are replacing gutters or downspouts. There are several ways to remove a rivet.

Option 1: Use a dedicated tool to drill it out

Drilling it out is the best and easiest way to do it. You might want to invest in a dedicated rivet-removal tool if you anticipate having a lot of rivets to remove, such as if you are restoring an Airstream trailer.

  • The tool is typically used by aviation mechanics and consists of a drill bits and a guide that places the bit over the rivet’s center.
  • Use the drill to insert the tool, place the guide on the rivet head and drill out the head.

Option 2: Use Basic Tools to Drill It Out

A plain drill bit is a better option if you are only trying to remove a few rivets.

  • You will need to make a divot with a hammer, a center punch, or narrow nail set if the rivet does not have a clearly defined center.
  • Next, locate a twist drill bit just a little larger than the rivet’s mending.
  • Drill the hole with the bit, then insert the bit into it. Next, drill slowly through the rivet’s sleeve. The rivet should break apart. Try the next-larger drill bit if it does not. It’s always a good idea for metal drillers to wear safety glasses.

Option 3: Use brute force

The third method works, although it is not the most elegant. This is not the best method if you care about the surface appearance of the object being riveted.

  • Use a cold chisel, or another blunt-edged tool (a screwdriver with a slot-head head) to place the sharp end against the rivet head’s edge. Then use a hammer to hit the other end.
  • Continue this process until the rivet head is removed. The rivet will then usually be easy to remove. Sometimes, you may need to punch the rivet out.

About the Author


Darius Matsumoto

Hi, i am Darius. Woodworking is my another hobby for the last five years. I love to write woodworking project and also ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.