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How to Use a Pop Rivet Gun


How to Use a Pop Rivet Gun Blog Image

One of the most popular forms of blind rivets is pop rivets because they are easy to set and extremely strong. Pop rivets can be used for everything from construction applications to manufacturing to making lasting repairs. Pop rivets are effective in wood, metals, and even plastic, but you have to use a pop rivet gun to install them. There are different types of pop rivet tools, and it is important to choose the right tool for the application.

Like any blind rivet, pop rivets are designed to be installed from one side of the workpiece. The pop rivet itself consists of a metal sleeve with a flange and a mandrel that is inserted into the sleeve. When the rivet is inserted in a pre-drilled hole, the rivet gun pulls on the mandrel, collapsing the rivet body to form a tight and lasting joint that binds the two workpieces together. Once the installation is complete, the rivet tool snaps the mandrel off for a clean finish. The name “pop rivet” comes from the sound the rivet makes when it is set and the mandrel is removed.

To properly install a pop rivet, you need a tool that can place the rivet securely in the hole and then apply the appropriate amount of pressure to securely set the rivet. If you apply too much pressure, it could crush the rivet or the material being joined. Rivets are used with plastics and plexiglass, for example, and too much pressure will crush the plastic which could be disastrous if you want a lasting, waterproof seal. If you use a rivet gun that applies too little pressure, then the seal won’t be set properly and will likely fail.

That is why it is important to understand how to choose the right rivet tool and to know how to use a pop rivet gun correctly.


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Choosing the Right Pop Rivet Tools

There is a range of pop rivet tool brands and models, but there are only two categories of pop rivet tool: manual and power tools.

The manual pop rivet tool is ideal for small jobs where you have to set only a few rivets by hand. Manual rivet tools are lower in cost (and often lower in quality) and can be used for simple assembly jobs requiring only a few rivets, but they are not designed to be used for long periods. The manual pop rivet tool is designed to use a simple lever to provide the power needed to set the rivet; just squeeze and set.

For more rigorous applications such as manufacturing or construction, you will want to use a power riveting tool. There also are a variety of power pop rivet tool brands, each with different specifications to handle different rivet sizes and with specific pull-strength profiles. When you choose a power pop rivet tool, you also have to decide whether you need a cordless tool, a cord-powered tool, or a pneumatic riveting tool for heavy-duty jobs.

Pneumatic tools tend to be more popular in settings where the tools are fixed or don’t have to be moved far from the assembly line or workbench because the hoses are cumbersome. You get more freedom with electrical power tools because they don’t require a compressor. Battery-operated, cordless riveting tools are gaining in popularity because they are lightweight and highly portable. However, battery-powered tools can’t generate the same amount of pulling power as corded or pneumatic tools.


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How to Use a Pop Rivet Gun 

No matter what type of pop rivet tool you choose, they are all designed to operate in basically the same way:

  1. First, determine that you have the right rivet for the job. You want to choose based on the size of the pre-drilled hole, the grip range, the joint thickness and desired strength, your materials, and other factors.
  2. Next, you align the materials to be joined as desired and drill the hole for the rivet.
  3. You then load the pop rivet into the rivet gun mandrel first, so the sleeve is pointing outward.
  4. Insert the body of the pop rivet all the way into the pre-drilled hole. The flange of the rivet should be flush with the joint.
  5. Squeeze the trigger of the power rivet gun (or apply pressure to the levers on the manual rivet gun) until you hear the snap sound that indicates the mandrel has been removed. Once the mandrel is snapped off, the collar becomes the rivet head.
  6. Lastly, the mandrel is collected. You will have to collect the mandrel yourself if you are using a manual rivet tool. Most power rivet guns have a built-in receptacle to capture the mandrel once it is removed.

That’s it. The process is simple. If you fail to properly align the rivet or don’t make the joint snug enough to be secure, you can repeat as needed.

If you want to learn more about how to use a pop rivet gun, the types of rivet tools available, and the types of rivets available for any job, consult the fastener experts at Bay Supply. We will be more than happy to help.