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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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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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Black Oxide Coating: What Is Black Oxide?

Black Oxide Coating: What Is Black Oxide?black oxide treated lock washers

Black Oxide, sometimes called blackening, is the act of converting the top layer of a ferrous material with a chemical treatment. Treating fasteners with a black oxide coating not only adds a nice clean black look but can also add a mild layer of corrosion and abrasion resistance. To achieve the maximum in corrosion resistance, black oxide can either be waxed or oiled to add an extra layer of protection. The wax coating may dull the color of the treatment but provides the best resistance. The black oxide treatment is also referred to as gun bluing.

When fasteners are dipped into the black oxide bath materials (warm and hot processes) the harsh chemical components convert the top layer into magnetite. Black Oxide Stainless Steel Nuts Bolts and Washers are the most common form of black oxide fastener available. Prized both for the corrosion resistance of stainless steel with the added benefits of the black oxide treatment.



Materials That Can Get The Black Oxide Treatment

blackening finishing cup washers

  • Stainless Steel
  • Copper
  • Copper Based Alloys
  • Zinc
  • Powdered Metals
  • Silver Solder

The Black Oxide Processes

Blackening can be achieved in a number of different ways. There are three main ways to do this. If you are interested in the specifics of each type check out this article from Wikipedia.

Hot Bath

The process of treating the fasteners in different chemicals in order to convert the surface material into magnetite. The process is completed by dipping the fasteners into different tanks and occasionally placed in water. Once the process of dipping is completed the top layer of the fastener is porous and a layer of oil is applied. The oil seeps into the material adding that extra corrosion resistance to rust. This process creates a black oxide bath that complies with MIL-DTL-13924, AMS 2485, ASTM D769 and ISO 11408 standards.

Cold Coating

The cold process applies a compound (copper selenium) onto the fasteners at room temperature. This process is more convenient for working in house as it does not require many chemicals at heated temperatures to apply. Once applied it is considered weaker than the other forms of oxidization until a layer of oil or wax is applied to the surface.

Mid-Temperature Bath

Like the hot bath treatment method but does not produce the same toxic fumes of the hot bath and the surface is converted to magnetite at a much lower temperature. This method can also meet the same military standards that the hot bath version produces.

Benefits Of Black Oxide Fastenersblack stainless steel socket set screws

  • Does not significantly change the dimensions of the fasteners as hot dip galvanizing does.
  • A cheaper alternative to other methods of corrosion resistance such as electroplating.
  • An appealing look when a bright shine is not desired.
  • The process can normally be done in large quantities which makes it faster and cheaper for smaller sizes.
  • Reduces the risk of galling by adding an oil finish
  • Decorative finish
  • Adds a layer of mild corrosion and abrasion resistance
  • Paint sticks well to the black coating if painting is required



Will Black Oxide Bolts Rust

Black Oxide adds a mild layer of corrosion and abrasion resistance to fasteners. Like any material, black oxide treated fasteners can rust in the right environments. It will depend on if the fastener is damaged or marred, the type of metal with the black oxide treatment and environmental conditions.

Disadvantages Of Black Oxide

Black oxide is not nearly as corrosion resistant as some of the other options available to improve corrosion resistance.

The black oxide finish can be easily rubbed off. To prevent this, put some painters tape over the tip of your bit to create a tighter fit and prevent scratching in the event of a slip out of the drive.

The Black residue from the fasteners may come off of them so for certain applications it is recommended that they are wiped down before use. This extra step can be labor-some if many fasteners are needed.

Black oxide fasteners are largely used in the automotive industry due to their sleek black look. This look can deteriorate very quickly though in hot environments. Often, after a black oxide coat is applied to a fastener, they are placed in an oil bath for an extra layer of protection. The oil residue that stays on the fasteners will begin to turn brown when in high heat environments. So many users find they bolts look like they rust prematurely. It is not recommended to place black oxide bolts on or near engines.

Custom Coating For Fasteners

black stainless nylon insert lock nuts

Our company offers custom black oxide orders VIA phone orders. Can’t Find what you need in black oxide? Give us a call at 866-573-445 for pricing and availability!

Custom Fasteners and Hardware

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How To Avoid Breaking Spanner Bits

Avoid Breaking Spanner Bits

Broken Spanner Bit

The spanner drive style is still an uncommon drive style for most people to just have lying around.

This uncommon bit makes screws more resistant to tampering and removal without the proper bit. Due to this, a spanner bit is often referred to as a “tamper-proof” or “security” bit.

The Problem With Spanner Bits

As great as spanner “snake eye” bits are for adding security to an assembly, they also have some downfalls. Spanner bits are made to fit a very specific drive size. If they are used with the wrong size it becomes increasingly likely that the bit will break.

Spanner bits are also more prone to snapping than any other bit type. The spanner bit has two prongs that are inserted into two holes in the head of the screw. Pressure is then directly applied to only those two prongs (across a very small area) which causes the screw to turn. Other bits can have as many as six sides pushing on the head making it less likely that they will break by spreading the load across multiple points of contact.

Spanner bits are commonly avoided for this reason but there are actually a few easy steps you can take to avoid most of the common reasons spanners break.



Steps To Avoid Breaking Spanner Bits

Always Pre-Drill Into Hardwood

Hardwood can be particularly difficult for screws to cut into. We recommend pre-drilling a pilot hole even when the screw has a self-drilling tip. Pre-drilling a hole removes much of the wood that would be in the way and allows a screw to more easily install.

Avoid Coming To A Hard Stop

Drilling into knots or using a screw that is too long where it can hit metal on the back of the installation surface can cause the screw to seize in place. This sudden seizure will place all of the pressure upon the bit prongs and more than likely cause them to snap.

Avoid Over-Installation (Over-Torquing) Of The Screw

When installing the screw, make sure to stop once the head reaches the installation material. Attempting to screw the fastener in further will increase the amount of torque required to turn the screw dramatically.


Watch As Bob demonstrates this with one of our own spanner bits.

*No spanner bit regardless of quality will stay in tact if you do not take care when installing spanner drive screws. It’s the nature of the bit design.

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