How to Remove a Solid Rivet

  • 1-2 hours
  • Advanced
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Carbide drill bit
Center punch
Drift punch

A solid rivet is a kind of permanent fastener consisting of a smooth shaft and a solid head. This type of fastening device is commonly used on metal bridges and aircraft of different sorts. Rivets have been used since ancient times evident on archaeological findings, particularly from the bronze age. While a solid rivet is not impossible to remove, the wrong technique might eventually damage the hole or make it larger than the previous hole.

Removing a solid rivet is by no means an easy task as the risk of damage on the rivet and on the hole itself is inevitable. But with the proper technique, a solid rivet could be removed without damage to any surrounding parts. Keep in mind, though, that this process will require a discerning eye and a careful hand; not to mention sufficient knowledge on how to use a power tool. Remember to take the necessary precautions when using power tools and wear safety goggles and gloves during removal and installation of the rivet. Follow these simple steps on how to properly remove a solid rivet.

Step 1 - Determine Point of Drilling

Rivets usually have a dimple on the head and this is the point of drilling. But a variety of rivets have no such dimples to determine the center of the head. If this is the case then you would have to grind the head with a dremel to create a flat surface to work with. Create an indentation in the center of the flat surface using the center punch.

Step 2 - Drilling Process

Carefully drill through the rivet head. You should drill until you reach the shop head.

Step 3 - Removing the Head

Lightly tap the head of the rivet with a drift punch, making sure that the hole is not enlarged in the process. If it is you will have to replace the rivet with a larger one to fit the hole. The head should be easily severed and the stem should fall out on its own. In other cases you may have to drill a bit more to the stem before it falls of. But a pair of pliers could be used to pull the stem in case it fails to fall on its own. Problems like this usually occur when the drilling process is done improperly. Make sure you drill on the center of the grounded head.

Step 4 - Replacement

Replace the rivet with a new one. If the process was undertaken properly then the same sized rivet could be used to fit the hole. If the hole got bigger, then use a bigger size rivet for replacement.

Removing a solid rivet should not be an exhausting job as the right techniques employed will enable you to remove the solid rivet without damaging the hole and the project in the process. Rivets of all sizes could be removed using this technique, but as the rivet gets smaller a smaller drill bit should be used to drill the head.