How to Remove Rivets

Three Methods:Remove Rivets with a Grinder and DrillRemove Rivets with a ChiselRemove Rivets with a Rivet Removal Tool

Rivets are fasteners that are found holding together many things from race cars to sailboats. They are lightweight, fast, and easy to install. A rivet usually consists of 2 pieces, a pin and a head inserted into a pre-drilled hole. A rivet tool pushes the pin into the head until flush, and snaps off the pin's extra length. Rivets may vary from 364 inch (0.1 cm) to 12 inch (1.3 cm) diameters and come in brass, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, or monel. They are a low-cost, durable option you can use in place of spot welds, screws, or bolts. However, rivets may stretch and become loose, necessitating their removal. There are several ways to remove rivets, and you can learn how to remove rivets in such a way that you do not distort the pre-drilled holes and allow the rivets to be replaced easily and professionally.

Method 1
Remove Rivets with a Grinder and Drill

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    Grind off as much of the rivet's head as possible with a grinder and grinding wheel. Take care not to grind into the metal around the rivet.
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    Use a small punch and a hammer to drive the pin down part way through the rivet. This creates a starter hole that will help to guide the drill bit.
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    Select a drill bit a size smaller than the rivet. Drill out the remaining part of the rivet pin. Make sure that the drill makes a hole exactly in the center of the pin so that the hole is not enlarged. This creates a pilot hole for the next drill step.
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    Change to a drill bit the same size as the rivet, and carefully drill out the rivet pin.
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    Replace with an appropriate-sized rivet.

Method 2
Remove Rivets with a Chisel

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    Shear off the head of the rivet by placing a chisel flush with the metal just under the lip of the rivet head. Use a 3-lb. hammer to tap the end of the chisel until the head of the rivet is removed.
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    Use a punch to tap out the pin of the rivet. If the rivet is resistant, move to the drill instructions as outlined above.

Method 3
Remove Rivets with a Rivet Removal Tool

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    Purchase a rivet removal tool with the appropriate-sized drill bit and guide. The rivet tool may come with an assortment of guides and bits, or you may have to purchase extra accessories for the type of rivet you wish to remove.
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    Attach the rivet remover to a drill.
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    Slide the guide and bits into position on the rivet remover.
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    Adjust the drill depth so that only the rivet is removed.
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    Drill out the rivet.

Tips

  • Always hold the drill straight so that all holes are straight. A hole drilled to the side may enlarge the rivet hole.
  • Keep a kit of different-sized rivets on hand for quick repair jobs.

Things You'll Need

  • Grinder with grinding wheel
  • Punch
  • 3-lb. hammer
  • Drill
  • 2 bits
  • Chisel
  • Rivet remover

Article Info

Categories: Metalwork and Wire Projects