How To Use a Rivet Gun Properly


The use of riveting technology is always appropriate when thin or flat components are to be connected to one another in a resilient and permanent manner. The rivet is therefore regarded as a mechanical connecting element. 

Before assembly, a classic rivet consists of a smooth cylindrical shank with a head at one end. The opposite end of the head is called the tail. During assembly, the rivet is placed in a punched or drilled hole and the nose is deformed so that it expands to about 1.5 times the original shaft diameter, holding the rivet in place.

The Essentials in Brief

The tamping creates a new head on the other side by flattening the “tail” material, giving the rivet a roughly dumbbell shape.  To distinguish between the two ends of the rivet, the original head is called the factory head and the deformed end is called the workshop head or socket end.

Because there is effectively a head at each end of an installed rivet, such a connection can also carry tensile loads. However, it is even better at absorbing transverse forces (loads perpendicular to the shaft axis).

What Are Pop Rivets and Rivet Nuts?

Pop rivets, or blind rivets, are tubular and come with a mandrel through the center. The rivet unit is inserted into a hole drilled through the parts to be joined. The mandrel is then pulled into the rivet with a specially developed tool – the pop rivet pliers. This will expand the blind end of the rivet and the mandrel will snap off.

When Are Blind Rivets Not Useful?

Only in the case of critical, very heavily loaded structural connections is the use of blind rivets sometimes avoided, since the mandrels can fall out due to vibration and then leave a hollow rivet, which has a lower load-bearing capacity than solid rivets. In addition, the mandrel makes blind rivets more susceptible to damage from corrosion.

In contrast to solid rivets, blind rivets can be inserted “blindly” into a connection from just one side of a component to the opposite side and fully assembled. Hence the origin of the name.

How Are Rivet Nuts Installed?

Rivet nuts must also be fitted with specially developed pliers – logically called rivet nut pliers. They offer the possibility of introducing a thread of the desired design into thin and/or weak components. The component in question only has to be accessible from one side, so that hollow profiles and the like can also be fitted with rivet nuts.

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For assembly, the rivet nut is first screwed onto the threaded mandrel of the rivet nut pliers. The rivet nut is then inserted into the previously drilled hole and pressed into it with the pliers. This forms a closing bead on the back of the rivet, which fixes the rivet and thus the thread in the component. As a last step, the threaded mandrel is unscrewed from the nut.

What Types of Pop Rivet Pliers and Rivet Nut Pliers Are There and Which One is Right For You?

Basically, you can make a distinction between two different types:

  • Pop rivets/blind rivets
  • rivet nuts

In addition to the classic rivet, there are other rivet shapes for special purposes. Very common are e.g. B. Blind rivets, popularly known as pop rivets, where the term “pop” is actually a brand name of the original manufacturer. 

Pop rivets, blind rivets and rivet nuts are suitable for use in components that are only accessible from one side. They can be installed with a simple pop rivet tool – no additional press or impact tool is required.

Rivet nuts make it possible to introduce threads into very thin parts (e.g. sheet metal) and thus to connect them to other components in a resilient and permanent way. The connections can be (limitedly) detached by destroying the rivet.

More Facts Worth Knowing About Pop Rivet Pliers and Rivet Nut Pliers

The pop pliers are used to connect work pieces with pop rivets or blind rivets. This type of rivet gun is unique in how it works, as the rivet is not created with hammer force, but is only set in place by the leverage on the pliers.

How this leverage is generated depends on which model the do-it-yourselfer chooses when buying pop rivet pliers or blind rivet pliers. There are the classic models on the market, which are operated by hand in the same way as conventional pincers or pump pliers, but also electrically and pneumatically operated pop rivet pliers. The latter are also referred to as rivet guns.

The gun is guided over the rivet mandrel (a shaft protruding from the rivet head) and the end of the rivet is inserted into the work piece. When the gun is actuated (typically by depressing the handle), a bullet on the rivet’s tail is drawn towards the head and a metal sleeve is pushed between the bullet and the head. 

This forms another “head” on the other side of the work piece, pulling the work piece together and holding it securely in place. The mandrel has a weak point (predetermined breaking point) at which it automatically breaks off when the riveting process is complete.

The rivet nut pliers, on the other hand, is a special tool that is usually not found in any well-stocked range of ready-made tools. This means: If you want to use the technique of riveting nuts at home, you have to buy such a pair of pliers separately.

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When buying, you should make sure that the pliers can hold the desired rivet size. Good pliers process rivets with a diameter of at least 3-8 mm, often even a larger range of different rivet sizes is possible. It is very practical if the pliers have a quick-change system.

If you want to save money and have less walking, you can choose a set consisting of pliers and all the necessary accessories – often even the rivets themselves are included in such a complete set.


With the help of blind rivets or rivet nuts, it is possible to quickly and easily connect thin components made of different materials in a permanent (blind rivet) or detachable (rivet nut) connection.

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