The Best Way to Install a Solid Rivet

Several rows of solid rivets used to fasten a metal girder.
  • 5-10 hours
  • Advanced
  • 200-600
What You'll Need
Drill/drill bits
Air hammer
Bucking tip
Bucking bar

A solid rivet is a good way to attach two pieces of metal together without the use of welding. This is important if you are rebuilding a classic automobile, or creating something that does not need any strong welds. This rivet is a fastener that is a solid tube with a head that resembles a flat screw. There are different ways to install a solid rivet into a workpiece, but they all depend on making a mushroom end so that it holds the two pieces together. Here are a few steps for the best way to install these in your next project.

Step 1 - Line Up Pieces

Before you get to the installation of the rivets themselves you will need to line up the two pieces that you want to join together. Make sure that they are perfectly in place, as you will not be able to take them apart without breaking the rivets if there is a mistake. Hold pieces together with clamps once you’re certain you’re set so you can move onto the next step.

Step 2 - Mark Rivet Holes

When you install rivets into metal, they are slid through a hole that is already there, so you have to make these holes yourself. Use a marker, or a piece of chalk, to draw on your piece where the rivets should go. They should be spaced every couple of inches for the best holding power.

Step 3 - Drill Rivet Holes

Using the same diameter drill bit as the solid rivets, drill through the pieces you’re joining. Once the holes have been completed, you should go over them with a very light coating of oil to prevent any rust from developing.

Step 4 - Insert Rivets into Hole

Once the holes are all drilled, you can then begin to insert the rivets. You will want to work one at a time until they are all fastened in place.

Step 5 - Use Air Hammer

Get a volunteer to work on the other side of the project with an air hammer. They will need to place the air hammer bit on the end of the solid rivet to easily hammer it flat onto the metal surface. When this happens, the rivet will have a stronghold. In the meantime, you will need to use a bucking bar, or some type of flat metal bar, to hold the rivet head in place.

Step 6 - Repeat Process

After you have finished with the first rivet, you can then continue to put the rest of the rivets into place. Use the same method on each rivet in turn to finish securing the metal together.

Step 7 - Check Fit

Once this is complete, you need to go around and check your project all over for a tight fit. If any rivets are loose or move around too easily, you will need to give them another punch with the air hammer. All the rivets should be completely secure so that the metal will be stationary.