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Can I Install A Rivet In An Over-Sized Hole?

Can I Install A Rivet In An Over-Sized Hole?tri-fold rivets installed in an oversized hole

A common question we get from our customers is “Can I install a rivet into an over-sized hole?” We set out to find out why this was such a common question and realized that it often occurred during the drill out process. While removing a rivet is a straight forward process, it is often hard to tell by the hat what size the rivet is.

Add in other factors such as the rivet spinning or being loose during removal (we made a video on how to remove spinning rivets you can check out) and it is likely that a rivet removal can result in an oversize hole. To mitigate the risks of over-drilling we recommend always starting with a slightly smaller drill bit than you think will be necessary. This will allow you to increase the size if necessary without increasing the size of the hole itself.

Already Drilled Too Large?

rivet not yet installed into an over-sized hole

What happens when the rivet is already drilled out and the hole is now too large? is there a way to install a rivet in this over-sized hole? The short answer is yes and there are three basic ways to do this.

Option #1

The first option is the best option and the one you should go with if your project is being held to standards and specifications. Simply figure out which size of rivet will fit into the new larger hole and go buy one. Rivets are available in many different sizes and varieties and it is likely that you can find a larger diameter rivet that will still fit the depth of the material.



Option #2

Option two will work in a pinch but we do not recommend relying on it for very long or at all if it has potential to cause harm if failure occurs. This option requires what is known rivet installed into an oversize hole with no washeras a tri-fold or exploding rivet. These rivets split out when installed into three folds that provide strong retention. Due to the three folding prongs, the grip of the rivet can be asserted across a wider surface area. This will allow the rivet to tighten against a hole that is too large for the rivet. Although hard to tell in our picture, the prongs actually started to get sucked into the hole. This type of connection is likely to loosen and should not be used for a long period.

Option #3

placing a rivet backup washer onto a rivet in an oversized hole

The third option only works as long as you have access to the back of the installation surface (something not always common when dealing with rivets). This method requires the use of a rivet backup washer and a tri-fold rivet. First, insert the tri-fold rivet into the hole. Next, go to the other side of the installation and slide the rivet backup washer onto the exposed portion of the rivet. Then you need to ensure the washer stays pressed against the surface while you install it. If you do not have someone to help you, you can add a bit of glue to the washer and press it against the installation surface to hold it in place. Then install the rivet. As the three wings expand out they will grip hard against the new correctly sized backing. This results in a much stronger hold than using a tri-fold rivet without a washer.

Conclusion

a tri-fold rivet installed with a backup washer into an over-sized hole

While it is possible to use a smaller rivet in an over-sized hole, the best option is always to just buy the correct rivet for the new hole. Adding a backup washer, some glue and a tri-fold rivet will yield strong results but if the job has specific standards it needs to pass for this method will not work. Finally, you can get away with using just an exploding rivet in many cases but they should only be used short term, checked frequently and should be replaced as soon as possible.



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Rivet Installation Guide

How Do I Install A Rivet?

It’s a question many people ask the first time they see a rivet and not one that’s incredibly easy to explain. Today we will show you how to install a rivet, but first, we need to determine what tools we will need for the job.

The Tools You Need

  • Riveter
  • Rivets
  • Drill
  • Drill Bits

Installing Your First Rivet

hand riveter

The first thing to do when installing a rivet is to choose the appropriate tool for the job. There are many different riveting tools but we find that for day to day use, a simple hand riveter will do nicely. If you plan on installing a large number of rivets, check out this Battery Operated Rivet Tool and our review of a similar tool here.

The next step is to use your drill and drill bit to create a hole in the materials you plan on fastening together.

After drilling the hole its time to prep the rivet for install. All you do is slide the mandrel (longer thin end of a rivet) into the hand riveter until it sits against the flange.

After the rivet is placed into the hand riveter you place the hat of the rivet (the end still sticking out of the tool) through the hole. Now while keeping pressure against the rivet so it stays all the way in the hole, squeeze the handle.

install a rivet    installed rivet

When you squeeze the handle several things happen at once. The tool bites down on the mandrel and begins to pull it backwards. As it does, the mandrel, which starts in the hat of the rivet is pulled through the hat towards the riveter tool. As the mandrel is pulled through the hat the hat expands creating a fat end which can no longer slide through the hole. Once the maximum torque is reached the mandrel snaps and leaves only the hat and flange behind.

installed rivet (front)installed rivet (back)

Above are images from the front and back of 6 installed rivets. The image on the left is the front of the rivet which is what is exposed once the installation is complete. The picture on the right is the back (blind) side of the installed rivet.



Conclusion

As you can see, installing a rivet is a simple process that can be difficult to explain. You should also note that rivets need to be sized based off the thickness they are being installed into. If you do not choose a rivet in the correct grip range your rivet will either be loose or try to expand into the hole during installation.

Need more rivet information? Check out our Free Rivet Guide. We have compiled helpful videos, charts, grip ranges and other useful information to make rivet installation a breeze!

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