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Old 06-22-2009, 12:44 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Rivets - headache-free how-to

We are new here and inexperienced, but let me tell you: at first, we HATED rivets. We searched AND SEARCHED for how to remove them. Almost everyone used 1/8" drill bits. We tried it, and it took us literally about 5 minutes to remove one rivet! We calculated it would take us about 2 hours just to remove the spice rack!

After a few more frustrating attempts, we decided to pray for wisdom. We came across one person on the Internet who off-handedly mentioned a chisel and hammer. We decided to give it a try without getting our hopes up.

It was brilliant! With the angled side of the chisel against the wall and the sharp tip against the very edge of the rivet head, we were able to remove each rivet without damaging the vinyl-clad aluminum walls at all. One or two taps of the hammer usually lodged the chisel under the rivet head, and a few more taps chopped that head right off! Each rivet took about 15-25 seconds (depending on the angle we had to work from). What an improvement. Just beware when doing overhead rivets that the head is not going to fly off into your eye.

Maybe we were doing something wrong the drill-bit way, but this was so quick and easy that we didn't care to go back and find out. May someone else benefit. We are loving this community by the way. A major Thank You to everyone who takes the time to help newbies like us. You are such a blessing!!!! Kudos to all.

- Natasha
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Old 06-22-2009, 12:55 PM   #2
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Chisel and hammer Is the way to go. If not just for the only ,NO drill shavings all over!!
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Old 06-22-2009, 01:03 PM   #3
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To drill rivets properly, a high speed air drill is needed. An electric drill is too slow and just doesn't do the job. Working on aircraft, I have drilled many, many rivets, average time on each rivet --- 3 seconds.
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Old 06-22-2009, 04:06 PM   #4
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Great tip on rivet removal. I agree the drill method can be tedious, and messy. You two are really doing a lot of work on your new baby. Don't forget to post lots of pictures. We love to see your progress.

Mary
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Old 06-22-2009, 04:59 PM   #5
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I timed it today, with a GOOD drill bit and my Craftsman 19.5 volt drill it took 5 seconds to drill out a rivet. You must be using a drill bit from Harbor Freight. But what ever gets the job done, do it. No right way no wrong way.

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Old 06-22-2009, 05:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bullydogsmom View Post
I timed it today, with a GOOD drill bit and my Craftsman 19.5 volt drill it took 5 seconds to drill out a rivet. You must be using a drill bit from Harbor Freight. But what ever gets the job done, do it. No right way no wrong way.

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A very wise 35 year aircraft frame veteran taught me at the Resto Rally this past April, Cobalt bits are the only way to go.
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Old 06-22-2009, 05:41 PM   #7
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Wow great feedback!

This was great feedback. Thank you so much. I think we'll keep going the chisel route, because we don't have an air drill or access to one that I know of.

Thank you for the details, though, for those who will come across this thread in the future. We just did not have enough details to go with in the beginning and were stumbling in the dark.

Yeah, 3-5 seconds per rivet makes our 15 second chisel route seem like an eternity!

- Natasha
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Old 06-22-2009, 05:44 PM   #8
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Did you check to see if the drill motor was going the right direction? I'm with the 3 - 5 second group. A split point bit is a great help also, especially on solid rivets.

Chisels scare me to death. One slip and you've got a nasty scratch.
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Old 06-22-2009, 05:48 PM   #9
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I can see some new tools in your future.
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ts8501 View Post
A very wise 35 year aircraft frame veteran taught me at the Resto Rally this past April, Cobalt bits are the only way to go.
Yep that's what I use. Goes through them like " budder"

Annette
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:46 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by tdturn2 View Post
We are new here and inexperienced, but let me tell you: at first, we HATED rivets. We searched AND SEARCHED for how to remove them. Almost everyone used 1/8" drill bits. We tried it, and it took us literally about 5 minutes to remove one rivet! We calculated it would take us about 2 hours just to remove the spice rack!

After a few more frustrating attempts, we decided to pray for wisdom. We came across one person on the Internet who off-handedly mentioned a chisel and hammer. We decided to give it a try without getting our hopes up.

It was brilliant! With the angled side of the chisel against the wall and the sharp tip against the very edge of the rivet head, we were able to remove each rivet without damaging the vinyl-clad aluminum walls at all. One or two taps of the hammer usually lodged the chisel under the rivet head, and a few more taps chopped that head right off! Each rivet took about 15-25 seconds (depending on the angle we had to work from). What an improvement. Just beware when doing overhead rivets that the head is not going to fly off into your eye.

Maybe we were doing something wrong the drill-bit way, but this was so quick and easy that we didn't care to go back and find out. May someone else benefit. We are loving this community by the way. A major Thank You to everyone who takes the time to help newbies like us. You are such a blessing!!!! Kudos to all.

- Natasha
Natasha,
You were not drilling correctly. What were you using for a drill and what brand/style of drill bit were you using? You need a sharp bit and a fast drill.
A Hammer and the proper chisel will remove the head once you have drilled it. Just popping the head can enlarge the hole or stretch the metal on the inside.
In my chisel set is one specificly used for removing rivet heads.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:08 PM   #12
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Smile Our Drill, Our Chisel

Hi Michelle. Thank you for joining the thread.

We were using a cordless Black & Decker 18v (?). Yes, the drill was going in the correct direction. We used a 1/8" drill bit, the sharpest we had from our new set of attachments but obviously not sharp enough and not a powerful enough drill.

We are trying to use what we have on hand without buying a lot of new, expensive equipment (if possible). That's one of the big things that made our chisel so appealing when it became apparent that our drill wasn't working. Also, we had wasted several precious afternoons trying to make things work (we have three children, kindergarten and under we bring to the job each time).

Also, with the chisel we didn't pop the rivets out. We cut the heads off. It didn't enlarge any holes that way. We just used the chisels we had on hand (previously bought for chiseling hinge grooves into our new household doors).

I think one of the previous posters hit the rivet on the head when he mentioned we needed an air drill, rather than a regular electric or worse yet, a cordless! We're working on an rv storage lot by ourselves without electricity, so our options are slim when it comes to tools.
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:02 PM   #13
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The solid shaft that pulls and pops can/will remain just where the drill will want to go, if it spins it can stall the drill progress, if it is a steel mandrel and aluminum rivet it will never drill but force the drill off center which makes an ugly oblong hole in the process...

Taking a very fine nail set or awl to the exact center of the rivet and tapping the center mandrel away farther into the hidden cavity makes them all drill easier...
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:03 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by tdturn2 View Post
Hi Michelle. Thank you for joining the thread.

We were using a cordless Black & Decker 18v (?). Yes, the drill was going in the correct direction. We used a 1/8" drill bit, the sharpest we had from our new set of attachments but obviously not sharp enough and not a powerful enough drill.
[deleted]

Also, with the chisel we didn't pop the rivets out. We cut the heads off. It didn't enlarge any holes that way. We just used the chisels we had on hand (previously bought for chiseling hinge grooves into our new household doors).

I think one of the previous posters hit the rivet on the head when he mentioned we needed an air drill, rather than a regular electric or worse yet, a cordless! We're working on an rv storage lot by ourselves without electricity, so our options are slim when it comes to tools.
Power is not the issue speed is. This is where the air drill comes in. I have one only because I was an aircraft mechanic.
You are side loading the rivet which can have un-intended consequences.
This is why they are drilled out first then the head can be sheared off if necessary.
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