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Cut or drill rivets?

#1
I have a bunch of rivets to remove shortly. Anyone got a foolproof way of doing this? They are painted and the surface underneath is painted, the paint surface I’m trying to preserve

I’ve drilled them out in the past, or cut the heads in an X shape to gently remove the rivet.

I do have a spot weld cutter but I don’t think that would work well
 

CalgaryPT

Well-Known Member
Vendor
Premium Member
#2
Industry standard is to drill. Pop rivets are easy, solid ones tricker. If you have lots, I found a pair of Vampliers Screw Extraction Pliers are faster and less likely to damage the sheet than pliers or vise grips when it comes to pulling the drilled rivet out. They have a unique grip pattern perfect for this job ( https://www.vampiretools.com/ ). I once restored an old pop cooler with hundreds of rivets and the tool was a blessing.

There's not really a faster method if preservation of the surrounding material is your objective. One exception is really small alum or brass rivets where you can sometimes use end cutters on the rivet shank. But because the softer materials tend to expand, you often still have to drill. It won't work with steel rivets very well though.

In the airline industry they sometimes fabricate a steel plate (16 gauge or so) to fit around the rivet head and held in place with tape temporarily. This helps prevent damaging fragile sheet if you miss with a centre punch making a hole for your drill bit, or your drill bit slips off. Custom car guys do this too. In your case put tape on the backside of the plate to minimize scratching of the paint.

Best of luck. Score the paint around the rivet head prior to extraction; it will help minimize paint damage.

P.S. There are specialized removal tools that center the drill bit and prevent it from wondering: https://www.amazon.com/Air-Capital-Rivet-Removal-65007/dp/B004APCEZU
 
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PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#3
I'm diggen those Vampliers. I agree with one of the posters, a vise grip mechanism would be even nicer but maybe there is an inherent reason.
 

CalgaryPT

Well-Known Member
Vendor
Premium Member
#4
I'm diggen those Vampliers. I agree with one of the posters, a vise grip mechanism would be even nicer but maybe there is an inherent reason.
I agree. My dad and I used to have a quarter section of land up at Lacombe where we strung lots of barbed wire. Fencing pliers often offset the machined grooves by 90 degrees to better grip the wire. Vampliers do the same, but then take it further by having a groove for the screw head too. Genius I think! One of my favourite tools. Super useful for many applications.