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How to Remove a Spinning Rivet

Removing a Spinning RivetSpinning Rivet

We frequently get calls about trying to remove worn rivets. What we’ve found is that the most frequent problem our customers have with removing them is that they are loose in their holes and spin when they attempt to drill them out.

We asked our fastener expert to help us understand this dilemma and to give us a few tips on how we might be able to fix the problem. He came up with two methods for removing them. Once we suited up with our safety gear (glasses and gloves) we set out to test these methods. The answer it turns out, is much simpler than you might imagine.

Method 1

We are going to start with the method that is harder first. All it requires is a drill, a drill bit, and a slotted or Flathead screwdriver.

To begin locate the loose rivet and slide the slotted head of the screwdriver behind the rivet head. You will need to leverage the screwdriver to exert a fair amount of pressure against the flange of the rivet to keep it from spinning. After its in place take your drill and begin screwing through the rivet slowly. You should be able to work through the rivet and drill it out.

Flathead spinning rivet     adding pressure to a spinning rivet

The Good and The Bad

We like this method because it allows the used to only need a Flathead screwdriver which is typically a tool that is readily available on most job sites or in homes.

What we didn’t like is that if you do not have something to leverage the screwdriver against you will not be able to create the necessary pressure to hold the rivet in place. It also requires that one hand be on the drill and the other is holding pressure on the screwdriver. Also, if the rivet begins to spin then the screwdriver may slip and cause scratching on the surface material. You can remedy this situation by placing duct or blue painters tape over the surface of the screwdriver head but, at that point, we might as well recommend method number 2.

Method 2

The second method he recommended to us was to use a piece of painters tape over the rivet to hold it in place, or better yet duct tape. We tested both and found they both work quite well but duct tape does have a better hold. Simply place a patch of duct tape over the rivet and press down on it to make sure it creates a sturdy bond. Once the tape is on it you can easily see the rivet through the tape. Simply place the drill into the center and begin drilling.

The Good and The Bad

We liked this method because it allowed us to keep both hands focused on one task and does not require having a leverage point.

We didn’t like that you would need to have access to duct tape or painters tape which still may be readily available but less frequently. Also if you plan on using duct tape you should determine if the material you are working on will be damaged by the duct tape.

Duct tape spinning rivet drilling duct tape rivets

Our Choice

In the end, we decided the convenience of having both hands focused on one task was winning factor. The Rivets are less likely to spin with properly applied tape and it makes removing spinning rivets a breeze.

If you need any more information on rivets check out our Free Fasteners 101: Rivet Resource Guide and let us know if there is anything we forgot to add!

Remove a Spinning or Loose POP Rivet With Duck Tape | Fasteners 101

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Remove a Spinning or Loose POP Rivet With Duck Tape Transcript

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Bob: Welcome back to Albany County Fasteners – Fasteners 101. I’m Bob and today I’m going to demonstrate how to remove a spinning rivet or a loose rivet. One of our subscribers asked, “how do I do this”?

I have a rivet that is spinning on you, as you can see here, the rivet is spinning when you go to drill it out. There you go. Just take a piece of tape, push it on the surface…and then start your drilling. Go to the center and start your drilling. Apply your pressure and your rivet is removed.

A better way actually; I’m going to install another one. Instead of blue tape, depending on the surface that you are using, and I’m trying to set these, so they spin. I want to check if it’s going to spin on me here. Yup, there ya go. Spinning. I’m going to take a piece of duct tape, it will even be better than blue tape if it’s stubborn and it wants to spin out on you and you can’t get enough pressure on it.

Take a piece of duct tape, put that baby on there. Find the center. Out it goes. Take the duct tape off and the rivet is gone. A couple of ways would be one: to be able to wedge a screwdriver behind it.

I don’t know how much room you may have, you may not have the room to do this, but I think that I have a better solution, using a nail punch. A pointy nail punch, not a flat head nail punch, it’s gotta have a point on it and I’m going to demonstrate this for you by just grabbing the edge. I want to show you first, before I do that, that this rivet is spinning. You can see it there it’s just turning with the drill. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to grab the edge of that, with a punch. First, I’m going to set the punch so it creates a little hole in it, so it grabs the head. I’m going to keep my hand here on the side of it until the drill starts to go through.

Then I’m going to take my hand out of the way, I’m not looking to hurt myself but this is one way, possibly, we can do this. I’m going to try and grab it right now and I’m gonna apply pressure on it. Okay, I’m going to apply the pressureā€¦and of course I’m having trouble with that. Nope. I’m starting to get it, give me a second. Okay, it does want to keep continuing to spin and you will have, possibly, some surface scratches but if you work at it, and you hold it, and you push on it, and slowly turn the drill, it will stop it. Another way to try is using a flat head screwdriver, if you have the room; a slotted screwdriver, Okay? You can try with this. I’m going to stick it in here and twist it a little bit to wedge it, to try to remove it and that will give it enough pressure to hold the rivet so that the drill can start to drill through it. I’m almost there. There we go. Right through.

There’s one last way that you could try to remove something, and that would be with a cut-off blade on a grinder. That’s another way to do it. You could try this, but I’ve seen this done before, it’s horrible. It’s going to really scuff up the front of the material and you’re really not gonna want to use a grinder if it matters to the finish, when you’re all done.

Also, a way to prevent any type of scratching when you’re using a screwdriver is to take a piece of blue tape, that you use or painters tape, and put the painters tape…on the tip. That will prevent, when you slip it won’t scratch the surface. I didn’t use it here but that would be something to do to prevent you from scratching the surface if you want to keep the surface nice after you remove the rivet.

Thanks for watching, I hope this helps you.

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