How to Install Solid Aluminum Rivets

Michael Signal

Solid aluminum rivets secure two or more parts together in permanent installations. These installations can be removed or uninstalled, but this has to be done with a drill, not a screwdriver or ratchet, as with screws or bolts.

How to Install Solid Aluminum Rivets

The parts they secure are usually also made of aluminum, since dissimilar metals tend to speed corrosion when they are in prolonged contact. The rivet installation is so strong because the rivet is actually flattened around the back of the rivet hole during the riveting process. The rivet can never unscrew. It must completely fail -- break -- or be drilled before it will come out.


    Lay out your rivet pattern with a permanent marker.
  1. Lay out the rivet pattern. A riveted repair or installation will usually require rivets to be installed at a specific spacing and pattern. Measure your pattern and mark the hole locations with a permanent marker.

  2. Secure the pieces of metal to be riveted, with clamps if possible. It's a good idea to drill the rivet holes through all the pieces that will be attached at once, if they can be clamped securely together, and if the rivet holes can be drilled without damaging any surrounding structure.

  3. Insert a drill bit sized for the rivets into a drill. Drill the rivet holes. Keep the drill perpendicular to the material being drilled, and hold the drill steady so that the holes do not become oval-shaped or elongated.

  4. Countersink the rivet holes if needed. Insert a countersink drill bit into the drill and hold the drill in line with the rivet hole. Hold the drill steady and straight and do not countersink too deep. Check the countersink by placing a corresponding rivet in the hole. The countersink is the correct size if the rivet sits flush. Only complete this step if you will install flush mount or countersink rivets.

  5. Your drill bit will have a slightly larger diameter than the rivet.
  6. Deburr the holes with a debburing tool. A small hand deburring tool will do.


  1. Insert an appropriate rivet into a hole. The rivet will have a slightly smaller diameter than the hole diameter, and it will be slightly longer than the thickness of the material being riveted. In the riveting process, the rivet will expand to fill the hole, and the excess length of the rivet will flatten to make its formed head.

  2. Install an appropriate rivet die into a rivet gun. Rivet dies for countersunk rivets will be flat, while protruding-head rivet dies will be concave. It is also important to choose the correct size die. Dies that are too small may damage the rivet, and dies that are too large may damage the surrounding metal.

  3. Press the rivet die firmly against the rivet. Make sure the rivet, die and gun are all aligned.

  4. Position another worker at the tail of the rivet to buck it. He will hold a heavy metal bucking bar against the tail of the rivet and signal you to start riveting.

  5. Squeeze the trigger of the rivet gun only when the rivet bucker signals you to do so.

  6. Release the trigger when the bucker signals you to do so.

  7. Inspect the front and back of the rivet for damage. Inspect the rear of the rivet for a properly formed head. It should be round, flat and centered on the rivet. The formed head diameter should be about 50 percent larger than the rivet diameter, and its thickness should be about half of the rivet's diameter.

  8. Repeat the installation process. Remove faulty rivets by drilling straight through their centers and knocking out the remains of the rivet with a punch. You will have to drill the hole to a larger size and use a bigger rivet if you damage the hole, so be careful while removing rivets.