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Technical Rivets (educate me please)

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Cali4niaCruiser, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 494


    I've got a few parts and pieces I want to fabricate using rivets. Maybe some seats and a few model A restoration parts. I have only ever used a pop rivet gun and don't even know where to begin. Can someone out there give me some direction on the different products/tools that are available and the methods that are used? I tried the search function but couldn't find any "how to's". Help educate me! I'm tired of plug welding everything!

  2. you tube is always great for some how to, just got to filter the real from the bull...,

    big thing with the rivets is:
    1 : align everything and clamp secure,
    2 : drill a hole that is a snug slip fit to the rivet
    3 : some rivets are just peened or pressed to form an end cap and clinch the pieces tight.
    4: others have a washer that slides over before clinching called a "rove" (this method requires a hollow, concave ended rod called a "bucking iron"( look at some links from the wooden boat building industry))
    5 :drill, slip rivet (and rove if used) into place and use a ball peen hammer to peen the end over , or the designated bucking iron to back it up and flare it to shape and a tight fit

    that's the basics ,
  3. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,608

    Rusty O'Toole

    When doing large objects like a car body or airplane it helps to have 2 people, one on each side.

    You can peen the rivets with an ordinary air chisel. You need a chisel or bit cut off square and flat. Lower the pressure until it goes "putt---putt---putt". 3 or 4 putts will peen one rivet. With a little practice you can do a very neat job with simple equipment.

  4. ttpete
    Joined: Mar 21, 2013
    Posts: 178

    from SE MI

    Always remember that ordinary "pop" rivets are NOT structural rivets. There are types that are, but are mostly used in aircraft applications.

    My suggestion is to check out aircraft riveting procedures. You'll need a proper rivet gun, ordinary air hammers won't work. You'll also need the proper rivet sets to use in the gun, and bucking tools to support and form the upset on the back side. There are helpful websites, just google "aircraft riveting".

    Here's one site:
  5. Stevie Nash
    Joined: Oct 24, 2007
    Posts: 2,999

    Stevie Nash

    What are the different types of rivets and where can you buy them?
  6. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 494


    Right on guys! Thank you for all the info. Each post provided something new I didn't know. Keep em coming! Also, does anyone have a good answer to the above quote?
  7. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 494


    Man that is an informative link! Everyone interested should read it!
  8. p51mustang
    Joined: Sep 2, 2009
    Posts: 84


  9. p51mustang
    Joined: Sep 2, 2009
    Posts: 84


  10. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 494


    Awesome P51! Thank you
  11. BillWallace
    Joined: May 6, 2011
    Posts: 132


    Google"jcrivets". There is plenty of info on all types of rivets. If you want to use solid rivets they come in several alloys. I would stick with just using 1100 alloy & universal head rivets. Brown aviation also sells the tools as does jc sales. Rivet guns are classed by their stroke. A #3 or #4 will work for most solid riveting. The rivet sets which go into the gun are matched to the size & type of the rivet head. Rivet size are measured by their diameter in 3/32of the inch. Example-#6 would be 3/16 dia. The lengths are in 1/16 from the bottom of the head to the end so a 6-6 would be 3/8 long. Drilling holes for rivets, drill bits are as follows. # 6 rivet # 10 or 11 bit. #4 rivet #30 bit . Cleco sheet holders are also requied to keep sheets or parts aligned when drilling& riveting.
  12. cavman
    Joined: Mar 23, 2005
    Posts: 654


    Who ever did the seat in the orig post has been at it for quite some time. It looks great, and you don't do that quality of riveting right out of the box. Years ago Uncle Sam sent me to airframe repair school at Ft. Eustis VA. out of a class of about 100, I scored 3rd. I have set and bucked more damn rivets than I care to remember. Mostly in UH1s (Huey Helicopters in SE Asia) Until the man sent me elsewhere. We used mostly Monel, for corrosion resistance between dissimilar metals, also used some alum. Well done, properly set rivets are a work of art, and safe. After all we didn't want them birds shaking off parts.

    Just wear good ear protection while setting them. Don't ask me why I recommend that. huh?
  13. frog49
    Joined: Jun 23, 2013
    Posts: 10

    from Elma WA

    As Cavman said, this is not the first set of seats this guy did. And not with an air chisel and ballpeen hammer. If you are planning on doing more of this invest in:
    a good rivet gun, a #3 or #4.
    matching rivet sets for rivets used.
    good universal bucking bar.
    A supply of #30 clecos and a set of cleco pliers.
    rivet depth gage.
    air drill and bits to match rivet diameter.
    Not to promote businesses - try and
    Get AD rivets in diameters and lengths needed
    NOT 1100 or A rivets - these are non-structure
    Hope this helps - it takes time
  14. Dont forget to debur the drill holes.Cleco every hole except the one you are driving the rivet in helps to avoid part/panel shift.
  15. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,372

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    Ah, rivets. I love em. Planes, skyscraper girder work. All done by hand. Think about it.

    As mentioned, you'll need a rivet gun (not an air chisel) and good bucking bar to do it right. Similar to a body dolly, the bucking bar is held firmly against the back of the rivet and compresses ("mushrooms") the rivet when the rivet gun is triggered. If it's not held firmly, you'll 'shank' the rivet causing it to partially compress between the two parts. It takes some practice. Fear not, you can easily drill out a bum rivet and drop in another.

    Most common rivet is the BB (domed) and BJ (countersunk) as seen on aircraft exterior skin. These are finish milled with a small power rotary tool in an air drill to make them flush with the skin for aerodynamics and weathering. Rivet tape can be used to hold an entire row of rivets in place. Cleco every so often and come back to replace them with rivets.

    I once worked in an aircraft assy plant, I've set and bucked a zillion rivets.
    It's quite a sight to see one worker on the outside of a jumbo jet fuselage, quickly walking off a long row of rivets with a gun, while his partner inside is following along with the bucking bar. They can't see or hear each other. Any communication is done via taps on the fuselage to indicate direction and to tell the gun man if he needs to shorten or lengthen his trigger bursts. Once they get in sync, the gun bursts are like a musician laying down perfect rhythym; brrrrt, brrrrt, brrrrt, brrrrt...
  16. low-n-slo54
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,920


    Clecos! Get a lot of 'em. While you're at it, get the Aircraft Mechanics Handbook.
  17. RBR
    Joined: Feb 25, 2014
    Posts: 13


    My best input here would to purchase kirkey aluminum racing seat, drill and rivet at your leisure. To do this you'd have to do the rivets from inside the seat so you don't get stabbed by the part that bulges out. Here's a picture of my seat in my race car, for an idea. ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1393394547.739201.jpg

    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
  18. Great thread !

    Any trouble riveting aluminum to steel ?
    Thinking about an aluminum floor pan but I'd need to rivet it to the steel sub rails.
    Also blind rivets ? How can those be done or is that a pop rivet situation?
  19. boutlaw
    Joined: Apr 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,236


    Vicky, in the aircraft world attaching two dissimilar metals is generally considered a no no, but still is done occasionly, with the ferrous metal protected with good primer. For structural blind rivets, there are some high strength versions but probably for your application a Cherry Max rivet will suffice. Don't use Cherry rivets, but Cherry Max, as the Cherry rivets require the stem to be cut off after pulling the rivet, which takes special cutters and then the head of the rivet is ground smooth. The Cherry Max rivets can be pulled with a hand puller for smaller sizes such as #4 (1/8 In). Somewhat difficult to remove if necessary after pulling the rivet so best to get your length and spacing correct. Go to Aircraft Spruce to purchase, they aren't cheap, used to be close to a buck each for a 4-4 Cherry Max, which is a common size.
  20. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,198


    I bucked a few thousand rivets at the Boeing Renton Plant working on window panel sections of 727 airplanes in 1966 and he hit it pretty close to right on the money.

    Usually you use an air hammer ( air chisel with a different tip) with a tip that is either flat like a valve head or the proper size and shape to fit a round head rivet. Your helper has to hold the bucking bar exactly square to the rivet you are driving at the time to get the perfectly square flattening you see on the back side. The "bucking bars" are blocks of highly polished steel much like a square body dolly would be if you took a cube or rectangular piece of steel bar and polished it up.
  21. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 494


    Thank you all for such detailed information. I found out exactly the info I was looking for. Time to buy some tools and experiment!
  22. steve rogan
    Joined: Aug 29, 2010
    Posts: 3

    steve rogan

    Hi there - I too are trying to teach myself the art of riveting. I'm using aluminium rivets but the set is damaging the head of the rivet. Any ideas on how to stop this?
  23. elba
    Joined: Feb 9, 2013
    Posts: 628


    A muffler gun will NOT work. Rivet guns come in different from a 1X to a 9X. The higher the number, the harder it hits. A 3x will be good for a 3/32 to a 3/16 rivet. The guns have the number stamped on them. Aircraft Spruce sells them.
    Takes a little practice but you will pick it up fast.
    Let the bucking bar do the work for you. The bouncing action of the bar actually makes the shop head . Practice.
  24. You might try this company: They are popular with the Model A and Early Ford V8 guys.

    Charlie Stephens
  25. Super Streak
    Joined: Nov 22, 2011
    Posts: 270

    Super Streak
    from Florida

    Steve Rogan, you have to keep the rivet set tight to the rivet head as you're shooting the rivet. Also try putting a small piece of duct tape on the rivet set, to keep it from marring. If you get a smilely face on it you're coming off the rivet as you're shooting. The rivet tail should protrude one and a half times the diameter of the hole with the pieces together before you shoot the rivets. keep the bucking bar square to the surface of the parts. The rivet gun must also be square to the work. Like Elba said you need to have the proper strength gun. You also need the correct rivet set for the rivets you're putting in. If you're doing flush rivets use a flat set, round head rivets need a set that is concave and it must be the right diameter for the rivet head.
  26. 24 Dodge
    Joined: May 2, 2010
    Posts: 731

    24 Dodge

    go to aircraft spruce .com they have all the stuff to do a good job, you want soft rivets. I use 1/8th rivets for the stuff I make. Do an advance search i missilenius in the classified's
    for 24 Dodge to see work I have done with rivets.
  27. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547


    after repairing/reskinning semi trailers for several years with a rivet gun , I prefer to weld ...
  28. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,608

    Rusty O'Toole

    I have helped rivet a Piper Cub back together using an ordinary air chisel. No doubt this is the wrong way to do it but the questioner was asking about doing some simple home projects, not building his own 747.

    If you can't afford to buy all the equipment you can do the job with what you have on hand, even using a ball peen hammer if necessary.

    To be crystal clear, if you have all the right tools use them. If you don't have them but want them and can afford them, buy them.

    But if you want to make a set of bucket seats, or similar, you can do it without a lot of expensive equipment. It may take longer but you can do a good job.
  29. ttpete
    Joined: Mar 21, 2013
    Posts: 178

    from SE MI

    It's easy to find a good used rivet gun, and not particularly expensive. There are firms that sell decent used aircraft tools. Just google it. It's better to buy a rivet gun to begin with. It will do everything an air chisel will do and do it with more control. It uses the same tooling (.401") that the muffler gun does.

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