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How To Use A Pop Rivet Gun

Updated on October 24, 2013

Using a Pop Rivet Gun

Pop rivet guns are one of the most valuable and versatile tools that you can have in your toolbox. They are used to secure parallel pieces of metal, plastic or other material together by inserting rivets into predrilled holes and expanding them. The most common pop rivet guns are spring loaded. They are extremely affordable, costing anywhere from ten to 30 dollars, and are very simple to begin using.

Getting Started

To insert rivets you will need a rivet gun, its included adapters, an adapter wrench, and rivets. If you need to remove an existing rivet, or create rivet holes, you will also need a drill and the correct sized bit. A C-clamp or other method of holding your project pieces together is also highly recommended for the sake of safety and convenience, both while drilling rivet holes and for inserting new rivets.

Once your materials are assembled, clamped, and predrilled, you are ready to attach your adapter and start the process of riveting your pieces together. It is very hard to mess up the riveting process because things will simply not fit if you attempt it incorrectly. Rivets are distinctly designed with two different shaped ends, one like a nail, and the other with a rivet cap that slightly resembles the male end of snaps commonly found on blue jeans. To find the correct rivet adapter, simply insert the pointed end of one of your rivets into the hole located at the end of each adapter until you find the one that fits the best.

What's Next...

After you have chosen the correct rivet gun adapter, simply squeeze the handle of the rivet gun to compress the spring mechanism inside. Holding the handle compressed, first thread the adapter into the adapter socket using your fingers, then tighten it down fully with the adapter wrench.

Insert your rivet into your predrilled hole by placing the pointed end of the rivet into the opening at the end of the attached pop rivet gun adapter.Then use your fingers to hold it in place while you position the cap end directly in the rivet hole for expansion. This may seem awkward at first, but it reduces the chances of injury by encasing the sharp point of the rivet at the earliest time possible in the production process.

Holding the pop rivet gun handle parallel with the contact point, squeeze firmly without adjusting your angle, releasing and then repeating the process, until the shank of the the rivet pops, separating from the cap.

With your production pieces now securely riveted together firmly, the only thing left to do is to safely dispose of the remaining rivet shaft and admire a job well done.

D.I.Y. Tool Checklist

*Tools for Measuring and Leveling

*Power Tools for Cutting and Drilling

*Hand Tools for Sawing and Chiseling

  • Steel tape measure
  • Torpedo level
  • 2' to 4' level
  • Carpenter's square
  • Plumb bob
  • Chalk line
  • Combination square
  • Circular saw
  • Band saw
  • Jig saw
  • Table saw (Bench saw)
  • Cordless drill
  • Router
  • Radial-arm saw
  • Crosscut saw
  • Chisel set 1/4" to 1 1/2" in widths
  • Rip saw
  • Combination saw
  • Hacksaw
  • Cabinetmaker's chisel
  • Back saw and miter box
  • Framing chisel
  • Keyhole saw
  • Mortise chisel
  • Coping saw
  • Mallet

How to use a pop rivet gun

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