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Rivet Guns – Tools Used to Install Blind POP Rivets

Types of Rivet Guns and What They’re Used For

In order to understand rivet guns, the first thing to do is understand how a rivet works. Blind rivets, often referred to by the brand name POP rivets, are an incredibly useful fastener designed to hold two materials together with a clamping force. POP Rivets are comprised of two pieces: the hat and the mandrel. The mandrel goes through the inside of the hat and gets pulled during installation. As the mandrel is pulled through the hat, it deforms the back of the hat. Once the deformed portion grips against the back of the installation material the mandrel snaps leaving a clean finished application. It is common for this type of rivet to be used when you cannot get to the back of an installation earning this fastener the name of Blind Rivet. There are several exceptions to this including shave rivets (a rivet where the mandrel needs to be shaved down with a special tool after the installation).

Knowing how rivets work is great but how do you install them? A rivet requires a tool that keeps the hat of the rivet firmly pressed against the installation surface while simultaneously pulling the mandrel away from it. These tools are commonly referred to as rivet guns, riveters, rivet tools or riveting tools. Not only are there many things to call a rivet gun, there are also many varieties.

Types of Rivet Guns:

  • Hand Rivet Gun
  • Lever Riveter
  • Battery Riveting Tool
  • Pneumatic Rivet GunHand Riveter and Accessories

While not all rivet guns were made equal, it is easy to identify the type of rivet gun needed for an application. Read along as we cover the pros and cons of each type or riveter.

Hand Rivet Gun

Hand powered POP rivet guns work with a simple lever and squeeze technique. The first step when using one, is to choose the appropriate sized nose piece. Rivet guns normally come with several options to fit a range of blind rivets. Hand-operated riveters fit a variety of rivets, are usually made of mostly steel with a rubber grip and offer the cheapest cost.

Hand Rivet Guns are an excellent choice for the occasional user. If you find your project having just a few rivets, then this will do the trick. The biggest con on this riveting tool is the squeeze and the amount of time it takes. Used repeatedly, it can be very stressful on the hands, wrists and forearms making it less than ideal for projects requiring many rivets.

Lever Riveter

Lever Riveter Tool

Lever Riveting Tools are the next step up in rivet guns. They also come with nose pieces but work with a wider range of rivet sizes. Lever rivet tools tend to be more heavy duty that a hand rivet gun and are easier on the user. Due to their larger size and lever action, they reduce the amount of physical strength required by the hand riveter. They also come with a collection bottle that catches the snapped mandrels after installation.

To install a rivet using the lever riveting gun, first, open the arms all the way. Then insert the mandrel into the nose piece. Once the hat reaches the nose piece, insert it into the installation hole. Then squeeze the two handles together. This will pull the mandrel in and snap it off. Now hold the lever rivet gun so the nose piece is in the air and open the arms. This will release the hold on the mandrel and it will fall into the bottle catch.

The lever riveting tool is an excellent tool found on many job sites. It makes installing blind rivets easier than using the hand riveter but is still manually done. It does come at a higher price point than the standard hand riveter but also comes with the ability to use a wider and larger range of rivets.



Battery Powered Rivet Tool

Battery Riveting Tool

Battery Powered POP Rivet Guns come in many varieties. The two main types function basically the same way, except for the last step. One type of battery powered rivet gun spits the mandrel out from the front of the gun and the other pulls the mandrel into a mandrel holder, so you do not need to worry about them until emptying the catch.

Battery powered riveters are great for the job site. They offer the versatility of not having a cord and the ease of simply pushing a button to install the rivet. Choosing the version with the mandrel catch is typically more expensive than the other battery powered option. The catch version makes installations faster by collecting the mandrels for you but be careful not to over-fill the catch or the gun may jam.

Pneumatic Rivet Gun

Pneumatic Rivet Guns are powered by compressed air to very quickly and easily install blind rivets. With a built-in catch, the pneumatic riveting tool is easily the fastest way to install rivets.

Pneumatic Rivet Gun

The downside to pneumatic riveters is that they require a hosed connection to compressed air. This limits their versatility and portability more than any of the other tools available, but if the project requires installing a large number of rivets, this is undoubtedly the best tool to use to get it done. It also comes at a significantly lower price point than the electric powered tools.

Shave Rivet Tool

Shave Rivet Tools are a special tool used specifically for shave rivets. On shave rivets, the mandrel does not completely break off. The remainder is then shaved down using one of these tools to create a clean finish on the exposed hat portion. They are commonly used in trailer-based applications to resemble a buck rivet and leave a smooth head without the traditional hole of a standard blind rivet.

Shave rivet tools are a niche item because they are only used with shave rivets. However, there are multiple types of shave rivet tools. There are cheaper versions that act as an adapter to a cordless drill. These are more commonly bought by the DIYer or someone planning on sparingly working with shave rivets. The pneumatic option is much more expensive but works much faster and has supports to provide a smoother finish. They are commonly found in industries that use shave rivets on a regular basis.

Which Rivet Gun is the Best?

Now that we’ve gone over the many varieties of riveter tools, it’s time to determine which to buy when. Since one riveting tool isn’t necessarily “better” than the other we will instead identify which tool you should get depending on your situation.

  • Hand Rivet Gun – This tool is cost effective and ideal for small shops that use smaller size rivets sparingly. They require significant pressure to use and leave mandrel collection to the user which can be a pain.
  • Lever Riveter – The lever riveter is a step up. It’s a little more expensive but does everything you want the hand riveter to do and can’t. It works with larger sizes than the hand rivet gun and makes installations easier by increasing the leverage on the handles. The lever rivet tool comes with a mandrel catch to make cleanup easy.
  • Battery Riveting Tool – Ignoring the differences in battery riveters, both types come with a critical benefit: versatility. They offer powered installations without any cords. They are an ideal choice when commonly working with rivets on job sites.
  • Pneumatic Rivet Gun – Air-powered tools in general boast performance at the cost of being attached to a compressor. The Pneumatic Rivet Gun is no different. If the job calls for an excessive number of rivets, then this is the tool you want by your side.
  • Rivet Shaving Tool – This tool is only used with shave rivets making it a very niche item. For those working with them often, get the pneumatic version to save some time and headache but if you’re only working with them once in a while the drill attachment will get the job done.

Conclusion

While many tool varieties have options available that are totally unnecessary, the rivet gun varieties are different. Each tool has a place in each situation and they perform very well when placed in those situations. Before buying one for yourself, decide what you work with the most often and be realistic about the goals you wish to achieve with the tool.


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Why You Shouldn’t Over-Torque Fasteners

Why You Shouldn’t Over-Torque Fasteners

Everyone who has ever worked with fasteners has accidentally messed one up at some point. One of the most damaging ways to do that is by over-tightening, or over torquing the fastener. This can result in stripping screws, snapping screw heads and damaging pre-tapped threading.

Fastener Torquing

Installing fasteners is an easy task (usually). To do so, you normally apply torque to the fastener, usually a nut or a screw head and simply “screw it in”. When torque and pressure is added to the driver, the fastener begins to spin. In general, although there are exceptions such as the left-hand nut, spinning to the right tightens and spinning to the left loosens (“righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”). The problems start when fasteners are driven too far, or over tightened.

Proper torquing of a flat head deck screw and an over-torqued flat head deck screw

An easy way to picture over-torquing is to take a look at deck screws. Most deck screws have a flat head style. This means when installed correctly, the screw head is supposed to be flush with the surface of the wood. As you can see in the picture to the right, if the fastener is over-tightened, the head is pulled beneath the surface of the wood. The increased surface area pushing against the wood is enough to greatly increase the required torque to tighten or loosen the fastener, which can result in stripping, snapped heads or thread damage which compromises the integrity of the fastener.

When torque is applied to a fastener and it is tightened, it will take an increased amount of torque to further tighten. Most inexperienced people working with fasteners tend to severely over-tighten fasteners thinking it will prevent them from loosening, however, this is not normally the case, and will cause damage to the fastener. To keep a fastener from loosening over time due to vibration and other external factors, a threadlocker solution, locking washer, locking nut or a combination of the three should be used.

While this seems simple enough, when torque is applied to a fastener and it is tightened, it will take an increased amount of torque to further tighten. Most inexperienced people working with fasteners tend to severely over-tighten fasteners thinking it will prevent them from loosening, this is not normally the case. To keep a fastener from loosening over time due to vibration and other external factors, a threadlocker solution, locking washer, locking nut or a combination of the three should be used.

Things to Consider When Torquing Fasteners:

  • Fastener Materials
  • Installation Materials
  • Thread Type

Fastener Materials

When torquing a fastener, the driven portion of the fastener – drive recess or nut – is put under a tremendous amount of stress. This is why it is crucial to use the proper drive size and style on the fastener. Using the wrong size will place an uneven pressure on the recess resulting in a stripped recess or a rounded nut. Since fasteners can be made from different materials ranging from soft metals to heat-treated hardened ones, the torque that can be applied to the fastener will depend on the material the fastener is made out of. For example, an aluminum bolt will not be able to take nearly as much torque as a Grade 8 bolt.

Fastener Drives

The fastener drive style will also matter. Below are the most common fastener drive styles listed from best to worst in terms of torque-taking ability and resistance to stripping:
Drive Styles: Slotted | Phillips | Square | Hex | Star

  1. Star (Torx)
  2. Internal Hex
  3. Robertson (Square)
  4. Pozi-Driv
  5. Phillips
  6. Slotted

Installation Materials

Installation materials can range from plastic all the way to steel which means not only does the torque the fastener can handle matter, the torque the material threading can handle also matters. Torquing a screw in plastic will have a much lower threshold then torquing a screw in steel.

In many installations, ruining the installation hole can end up ruining an entire build. By over-torquing in a softer material, the tapped threading in the hole can be damaged or stripped entirely. This is very common when working with plastic holes. It is generally very easy to over-torque and destroy the threading. To fix this, new threads need to be installed either by re-tapping the whole, or using a threaded insert and more than likely, the diameter of the screw will also need to be increased.

Thread Type

Thread type can also make a difference when it comes to torquing fasteners. There are two basic types of threading:

  • Coarse
  • Fine

Coarse Threading is a deeper but more spread out threading. This makes coarse threaded fasteners more durable because light marring on the threading won’t prevent the threads from spinning.

Fine Threading is a shallower threading but with many more threads per inch. Their tighter and shallower structure makes them less likely to be vibrated loose, but it also means there are more threads holding the fastener in place. Due to these extra threads, the fastener can withstand more torque and distribute it better on the installation material’s threading.

Both types, if torqued too much can cause the threading to slightly warp making it very difficult to remove the fastener later. That warping also weakens and changes the holding power of the fastener.

Torque WrenchThe Best Way to Avoid Over-Torquing

For most DIY projects the best way to avoid over-torquing is just to practice. With practice, knowing when to stop torquing will become second nature.

A torque wrench is a wrench that digitally sets and senses the torque. Once the optimal torque is reached, the clutch inside the wrench will slip preventing the fastener from being tightened further.  Many professional industries follow these torquing guidelines and use these tools to prevent over-tightening.

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What Is Pozidriv? How Does It Differ From A Phillips Drive?

What Is Pozidriv?Pozidriv bit and Pozidriv screw

Pozidriv, commonly spelled incorrectly as “Pozidrive”, is an improved variation on the Phillips drive design. After the patent for the Phillips head expired, the company GKN Screws and Fasteners created the Pozidriv design.

The Pozidriv drive style was originally formed to address the largest issue Phillips heads are prone to: cam-out. Cam-out is defined as the slipping out of a drive recess that occurs when torque exceeds a certain limit. The Pozidriv drive style has the same self-centering design of a Phillips drive style but improves upon the two following factors:

  • Increased torque without cam-out
  • Greater surface contact engagement between the drive and the recess in the fastener head making it harder to slip when installed correctly

Can I Use a Pozidriv on a Phillips Screw? Or Vice-Versa?

While we at Albany County Fasteners do NOT recommend using the improper drive style on a screw, technically speaking you can. A Phillips drive style fits into a Pozidriv drive recess decently when using the right size. It’s important to note that even if the Phillips does fit snugly into the drive recess, it is still much more likely to strip or cam-out than when using the proper driver.

Alternatively, you can attempt to remove a Phillips screw with a Pozidriv drive but they do not fit into the Phillips drive recess snugly and are much more likely to slip or damage the recess during removal.

Where Are Pozidriv Screws Used?

Pozidriv screws can be used just about anywhere, although they are not nearly as popular as standard Phillips screws. Over the years, many other drive styles, such as the Torx and Robertson, have come out as being more reliable than the Phillips drive style at preventing cam-out and stripping. The Phillips drive is still extremely popular in manufacturing due to its self-centering design but is starting to lose popularity for manual applications due to other drive styles having a better design.

Benefits of the Pozidriv Drive Style

As an improvement on the Phillips drive style, the main benefit of using the Pozidrive is the increased torque without the increased risk of cam-out. Pozidriv screws can handle significantly more torque on the fastener recess than a Phillips drive can.

How Do You Identify A Pozidriv Screw?

While Phillips and Pozidriv screws look similar, Pozidriv are actually quite easy to recognize at a glance. This is due to four notches marked into the head of the Pozidriv screw that are not present in the Phillips Head Screw.

Phillips Pozidriv
Phillips Drive Recess Profile Pozidriv Drive Recess Profile



Pozidriv Screwdrivers

The Pozidriv drive style can be found in a range of sizes from 0-5. The letters PZ or PSD are usually listed before the size number (e.g. PZ3 or PSD5). ANSI standards refer to Pozidriv as a “Type IA”. The Pozidriv style can be found in two forms. Either as a Pozidriv screwdriver or as a Pozidriv screwdriver bit. We currently carry Pozidriv driver bits in several different sizes in the following Vega Bit Kits:

Pozidriv vs.

Phillips

The Pozidriv is an improvement on the Phillips drive by increasing its torque capacity without increasing the likelihood of cam-out. It also has greater surface area contact with the drive recess. This makes it less likely to strip when installed correctly. In general, you can determine if a Pozidriv screw should be used over a Phillips screw by asking the question “How much torque do I need for this installation?” If the answer is a minimal amount of torque, the Phillips drive will work, otherwise, use the Pozidriv. As an improvement on the original Phillips style, the Pozidriv style is better than the Phillips.

Torx

The Torx, or Star, drive style vastly changes the design of the drive recess. Due to the star having six points of contact (6-Lobe), the screw uses a truly radial force rather than an axial force. Phillips and Pozidriv screws use an axial force to drive the screw which is not as effective and is more likely to cause cam-out. For manual applications, Torx screws are quickly becoming the most popular choice.

ROBERTSON

The Robertson, or square, drive is quite common especially throughout Europe. The square drive offers a unique style as it must fit perfectly into the drive recess to drive properly. When it comes to Robertson vs. Pozidriv styles for manual applications, the Robertson is the winner. However, the square drive is not nearly as popular as the star drive style.

Conclusionpozidriv screw and pozidriv insert bit from Vega set

While the Pozidriv drive style is an improvement upon the Phillips drive style, the Phillips is still incredibly popular and does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

Should you be in the manufacturing field and find you are having trouble with cam-out, you may want to attempt a Pozidriv configuration. It will give you the added benefits of a reduced cam-out with a better fit into the drive recess while preserving the self-centering functionality that is a must for manufacturing. For manual applications however, both the Star and Square drives are better choices to better suit your needs.



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What Are Structural Rivets?

What Are Structural Pop Rivets?

Structural pop rivets (structural blind rivets) are rivets that are specially designed with a locking mechanism to hold the mandrel in place. Before we talk about how exactly a structural pop rivet works, we should begin with how pop rivets in general work.

Pop or Blind rivets are comprised of two parts: the hat and the mandrel. A rivet hat is the portion of the rivet that deforms and stays in the installation. The mandrel is the portion of the rivet that is pulled into the rivet and mostly removed. A standard pop rivet mandrel has a designed flaw near the base of the mandrel which makes it easier to snap.

To install a rivet, first a hole needs to be drilled into the two materials. The hole should be just wide enough for the rivet hat to fit into. Once the rivet is sitting in the two materials, a rivet installation tool is used to pull the mandrel through the rear of the hat while keeping the hat pressed firmly against the installation surface. As the mandrel is pulled into the hat it deforms the back of the hat causing it to widen and pull firmly up against the rear of the installation surface. Once the torque is reached the weakened point of the mandrel will snap resulting in a complete rivet installation.



How Do Structural Rivets Work?

Structural Blind Rivet Diagram

Structural rivets work slightly different from the typical blind rivet. A structural blind rivet has a built-in (internal) locking mechanism that is designed to hold the mandrel inside of the rivet after the exposed portion snaps. This is commonly referred to as an interlock rivet. Notice how in the diagram to the right, the portion of the mandrel to the left of the hat is also much larger in a structural rivet than in a standard pop rivet.

There are several reasons structural rivets keep the mandrel locked inside the hat once installed:

  • Increased Shear Strength
  • Increased Pullout Strength
  • Higher Resistance To Vibrations
  • In some cases, they are also said to be considered weather-proof

How To Install Structural Rivets

Installing a structural blind rivet can be done basically the same way as installing a standard pop rivet:

  1. Line up the two installation materials
  2. Choose the appropriate drill bit to match the diameter of the structural rivet
  3. Drill a hole through both materials
  4. Insert the rivet through both materials into the hole
  5. Attach a rivet installation tool onto the mandrel
  6. Activate the tool to draw the mandrel out towards the installation surface
  7. Once the mandrel snaps it is completely installed

How To Remove Structural Rivets

Removing a structural rivet is just as simple as removing a standard blind rivet. To remove a structural rivet:

  1. Punch a starting hole into the center of the rivet
  2. Get a drill bit that is the same diameter as the hole originally drilled
  3. Add some lubricant to the drill bit
    1. *If the rivet is spinning, cover it in tape to prevent it from spinning
  4. Drill through the rivet with the drill bit until it goes completely through the hole

How To Install Rivets With A Lever Rivet Tool

How to Install Structural Rivets

Common Industry Uses For Structural Rivets

  • Commercial Vehicles
  • Sheet Metal
  • Electrical
  • HVAC
  • Agricultural Equipment



Pop/Blind Rivet Installation Tools

Hand Operated Riveter
Hand Riveter
Industrial Lever Riveter
Industrial Lever Riveter
Battery Operated Riveter
Battery Operated Riveter
Pneumatic Riveter
Pneumatic Air Riveter

*Pro Tip: Rivet measuring can be quite confusing try using an Rivet Gauge or our all-encompassing Rivet Guide to answer all of your rivet questions!

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Well Nuts – What Are They And How Are They Used?

What Are Well Nuts?

well nuts pre-installation

A Well Nut is a removable rivet nut made of two parts. A flanged rubber portion made of EPDM Neoprene and a brass insert nut. Well nuts only require one side of the hole to be exposed so they can be used for blind fastenings.

How Do Well Nuts Work?

A well nut, also called a rubnut, rubber nut or rawlnut, is a fastener used when something needs to be connected to a surface (in most cases where only one side is available).

Installing well nuts is a simple task:

  1. A hole must be drilled into the installation material. The hole will need to be the diameter of the rubber portion of the insert.
  2. Then slide the insert into the hole so that the flange is the only portion of the nut exposed. At this point, a hole must be drilled into the material you wish to attach if it has not been drilled already.
  3. Slide a washer onto the machine screw. You want to use a washer to press down on the flange portion of the well nut. Otherwise, the well nut will try to spin during installation.
  4. Line up the two holes and insert a machine screw that matches the threading of the well nut.
  5. Begin driving the machine screw (and washer) into the threads. As the well nut tightens, the rubber portion will start to deform and pull against the back of the installation surface creating a tight strong hold.

Are Well Nuts Waterproof?well nut after being installed

One of the most common questions about well nuts is “are they waterproof?” Yes, well nuts are considered to be a waterproof fastener but it is more accurate to call them water-resistant. Well nuts create a waterproof hole by tightly pressing the deformed rubber over and into the hole to completely seal it.

There are several ways in which they will not create a waterproof seal:

  • If the Rubber on the nut dries out
    • Rubber will eventually dry out causing cracks in the nut. This can cause leaks and will eventually need to be replaced. Time to replacement will vary but salt water environments may decrease the life of the rubber.
  • If the nut becomes submerged in deep depths
    • Even though these nuts are considered to be waterproof, after a certain depth the pressure buildup on the fastener may cause the rubber to deform further and lose its seal on the hole.
  • If the screw loosens on the nut
    • Screws can loosen over time due to accidental shocks and vibrations. If the screw begins to loosen, the rubber will begin to retake its original shape and break the seal on the hole. We recommend using a threadlocker solution when installing fasteners to prevent accidental loosening.



What Are Well Nuts Used For?

Well nuts are mostly prized for their water resistant, marine grade and blind fastening properties but can be used in many different situations. These blind insert rivet nuts can be used to deter vibrations and shocks in machinery. They are also quite common in compressors and mirrors for similar reasons.

Well nuts also provide a unique quality most fasteners do not. They can act as an insulator between two materials to prevent galvanic corrosion from occurring.

Well Nuts Vs. Rivnuts

Well nut benefits:

  • Water Resistant
  • Marine Grade
  • Blind Fastening
  • Deter Negative Effects Of Vibrations and Shocks
  • Easily Replaceable

Rivnut Benefits:

  • Many Different Materials
  • Blind Fastening
  • Significantly Stronger Pull-Out Strength

*Pro Tip: While well nuts are an excellent and versatile fastener, their grip is almost exclusively based off of the deformed rubber forming a hold over and inside of a hole. Due to this, well nuts have a weaker pull-out strength than many other fasteners and this consideration should be weighed when preparing for an installation.

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