Removing a Blind Rivet

What You'll Need
Dremel tool with grinding wheel
Drill/drill bit
Center punch

A blind rivet is a small fastener that is used to hold together two pieces of metal. This common type of fastener is found on everything from planes, to bridges, to automobiles. Many people use blind rivets when they are refurbishing a car, or building a simple metal chest. Blind rivets hold very securely to the metal that they are fastening, which accounts for their ubiquitous use. Blind rivets do need to be cut off and drilled out of the material that they are in. Removing them is not a difficult task and can be done with simple tools.

Step 1: Mark all Rivets

Before you get started removing all of the rivets in the material you should mark each one with a marker or a bright colored chalk. This will help you see where they are so you do not have to continue hunting for them. Blind rivet heads will have a round appearance that may have a hole in the center of them. 

Step 2: Grind Rivet Heads

Start the removal process of removing the blind rivet by using your dremel tool. Grind the heads off until they are completely gone and you are down to the bare metal. You will see the tube part of the rivets once you have the heads rounded off. 

Step 3: Indent Rivet Center

Once the head has been ground off with the dremel tool you will need to locate the center of the rivet body so that you know where to drill. Use a center punch and place a small indent in the rivet body that is still in the metal. You do not have to drive the center punch deep into the body of the rivet, just enough to make a small indent.

Step 4: Drill Out Rivet Center

Using a drill with a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the rivet body, you can now drill out the body. There are some very important considerations when drilling the rivet out. You want to make sure that you drill straight into the body and do not try to force it through. Doing so can cause you to drill in an uneven manner and go through other portions of the metal. Another consideration is not to further enlarge the hole. This requires a new rivet size. Drill completely through the rivet body until the back of the rivet pops off. 

Step 5: Punch of Rivet Body

Once you have finished drilling through the body of the blind rivet you can then remove the rest of it with a small punch. Use a smaller punch and simply push it through the hole. Again, you will want to make sure that you do not force the rivet through the hole as you can enlarge the hole. If the rivet is a little stuck, you can spray a little bit of WD-40 and try to push it through again. A slight tap with a small hammer is also another option.