Last updated: September 10, 2021

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Putting together two pieces of metal or wood can be done in a couple of seconds. A rivet gun could be the tool that you need. This tool will help you with any type of riveting job. A rivet gun can easily substitute for a hammer and makes it easier to put two materials together.

If you are looking for a tool to put hinges on a door so that it stays solid and securely attached to the frame, then a rivet gun is your solution. In this article, we will explain everything that you need to know about these tools, the types that are out there and how they work. We will also show you the best models in the market so that you can choose wisely.




Key Facts

  • Rivet guns are used to put a grooved rivet nut into materials that are not too thick, no matter the density. These rivet nuts are used to insert a pop rivet into these materials.
  • There are different types of rivet guns. They differ by their sizes. The “M” (millimeters) represents the diameter of the drill bit used to make the hole that will be used to embed the rivet.
  •  Rivet guns usually come with adjustable mounting attachments to adapt the tool to the different sizes of rivets on the market. Most of the time, they come with interchangeable mounting attachments between M3 and M12 and a key to change them.

Our selection: The best rivet guns

Rivet guns are very useful, simple to use, and cheap. They are a must in your house or workshop. They will let you put together any type of material. To help you decide which one to buy, we have researched the market and selected the best models of rivet guns for you.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about rivet guns

Rivet guns are small, easy to use, and practical tools, perfect for lovers of do-it-yourself projects, but they are also used by a wide range of professionals. In mechanical and carpenter workshops these tools are a must. We have gone into detail in the second part of the shopping guide so that you can understand what they are and how they work.

If you’re thinking about working with M5 rivets or higher, look for a more solid manufacturing model.
(Source: Neculai Carmen: 13711313/ 123rf.com)

What is a rivet gun exactly?

A rivet gun is a compound tool. Just like a traditional riveter, it’s a tool designed to put two pieces of material together. The method of putting things together through rivets is the oldest method known to mankind and also is one of the simplest. Rivet guns work like a drill.

Usually, they are the shape of pincers, with a mounting attachment (interchangeable or not) and long handles that you use to apply pressure with your hand to drive in the rivet. They are tools used throughout the world with a large variety of uses. The biggest drawback of using a rivet gun is that the work can be tiring since they require a lot of manual force.

What parts does a rivet gun have?

Like we said before, rivet guns are compound tools, which means that they are put together by separate, simple tools. Even though different types of riveters exist, in this section we are concentrating specifically on the pieces that form manual rivet guns.

Before moving on to the parts of the tool, we should explain that, just like drills and drill bits, rivet guns allow you to change the mounting attachment and use various sizes of bolts. For this equipment, the sizes are categorized in measurements of “M” (millimeters) and they match up with the thickness of the drill bit that made the hole.

Below are the parts of a rivet gun:

  • Lock bolt
  • Rod and stud
  • Mounting attachment and locknut
  • Ejector or knob to unscrew the mounting attachment of the grooved rivet nut
  • Handles. Usually covered up with some type of material that is easy to work with, like rubber or plastic
  • Keys to adjust the interchangeable pieces

What is the purpose of a rivet gun?

For everyone who doesn’t know much about “do-it-yourself” jobs, the best way to explain what rivet guns are for is to give an example. Let’s say that you have a metallic surface, like a pipe, that isn’t too thick that you want to attach to another object with screws, but the pipe is too thin.

In this case, you would use a rivet gun to drive a rivet nut into the pipe and then insert a rivet. Basically, it’s used to insert a bolt in materials that are very thin and already have a hole. It’s like a screw anchor that you put in a wall and insert a screw into to hang a painting.

What kind of rivet guns are out there?

In this case, we won’t list as many varieties of guns as we did in the article about traditional riveters. However, again, there are different designs and types of rivet guns made for different uses. Below is a table with the different types of rivet guns:

Type Usage Characteristics
Manuel rivet guns Workshops.

Carpenter’s shop.

Do-it-yourself.

Most popular.

Types: traditional handle, accordion, or long-handled.

Pneumatic riveter Industrial uses. Uses compressed air.

Ideal for hard tasks because of its strength.

Type C, press style.

Industrial riveter Mechanical assembly. Very specialized machine.

Heavy, around 100 kilograms.

Automatic, very powerful and fast.

Pneumatic riveter Automatic processes and mechanical assembly. You can put it on horizontal surfaces.

Powerful.

How do I use a rivet gun?

Generally, using a rivet gun is a very easy task. The processes of manual riveting are not very difficult. The main problem with manual rivet guns is that they require great strength. That can sometimes be frustrating, especially in tasks that take a long time.

Step by step directions of how to use a rivet gun:

  • The first thing you have to do is check your rivet gun and your rivets, make sure that you have at hand all of the necessary items.
  • Check the pop rivets and the drill bits that you’re going to use, make sure that you have all of the necessary sizes at hand.
  • Make sure that the pieces that you are going to put together have been drilled by the correct drill bit. If they have not, you should do this first.
  • Choose the mounting attachment of the right size and a rivet for the rivet gun.
  • Screw the rod into the tool and then press on the mounting attachment.
  • After making the hole, screw in the nut over the mounting attachment and insert it in the hole to plug it.
  • When you're ready, squeeze the tool until the rivet has been plugged.
  • Unscrew turning the knob that is in the top end until the mounting attachment comes off and the nut is on the metal sheet.
  • Once it is on, the piece is ready for the bolt.
  • When you're done, clean the tool and put it away into the box.

What is riveting exactly?

Riveting is a mechanical technique of attachment. Believe it or not, it’s the cheapest joining method that exists. In this case, when you put two pieces together through riveting they are fixed (they will not move apart again), to take them apart again you need a different kind of tool. Riveting is an extremely simple technique because you attach the items putting a rivet in a hole and pushing it in manually with this tool.

Riveting is the simplest and cheapest way to put two pieces of material together that exists.
(Source: Vladimir Zhupanenko: 82403715/ 123rf.com)

How should I choose between different rivets?

As you may imagine, the same way that there are many different types of riveters, there are also a large variety of rivets. They are put in different categories and each one has a particular purpose. We have created the following explanatory table so that you understand what type of rivet is the best in each case:

Types of rivet Usage Characteristics
Punch rivet Puts together two pieces of thick material. One piece.

You put them in with a hammer, not a riveter.

Blind rivets Do-it-yourself.

Mechanical assembly.

Carpentry.

Currently the most common.

They are made by a long, cylindrical pipe called a rod.

They are called this because they don’t need the other end to be reachable..

Tubular rivets or rivet nut To put screws in thin pieces of metal or thin wood. They are very useful when putting together furniture.
Aluminum, lacquered and anodized for metallic materials Used often in mechanical workshops and in chain manufacturing.
Steel and copper The steel rivets are made for applications that require a great mechanic resistance.

Copper rivets are better for brass or copper.

Stainless steel Especially used in maritime constructions.

What is a rivet nut exactly?

A rivet nut is a mechanical seal that tightly pushes together a fine metal sheet on materials when there would be little to no space on the end. It can put together various materials (working as a rivet). The rivet nut will help you to connect other pieces with a bolt or screw.

What tasks can I use a rivet gun for?

Rivet nuts are used in all types of metal plates that are not too thick, no matter the density of the material. This type of nut avoids sliding, does not require welding, and makes it easier to work with nuts and bolts. Also, it is a great solution for reduced spaces that you can only get into from one side.

Now, we will give you a table of rivet nuts:

Use Sectors
Cabinet construction.

Window and door frames.

Installation and making of air conditioning systems.

Installation of solar panels.

Metal fences.

Rails.

Pools.

Leveling feet.

Wiring brackets.

Plumbing and heater installation.

aerospace.

Automotive.

Electrical appliances.

Electronics.

Metallic furniture.

Railway.

Telecommunication.

Supply.

Chemical products.

Lighting.

Boats.

Submarines.

Medicine.

Paper mache.

What are the advantages of using a rivet gun?

Like we mentioned before previously, riveting is the simplest and cheapest way to join two pieces of thin material that exists in the market. Putting two pieces of metal, wood, or plastic together with a riveter is very simple. The main con is that once the two pieces are together, it is irreversible. However, there are also a lot of pros which are listed below:

  • It provides a strong hold onto a thin sheet.
  • Easy installation (just from one side).
  • Quick assembly time.
  • Reduced effort: simple installation with just one hand movement.
  • Avoids damaging the surface of the piece (for example, previous paint).
  • Reduces installation cost; you won’t need expensive tools.
  • Works in tight applications.
  • Doesn’t deform the pieces.
  • Will not come apart
  • Perfect for repeated assembly and disassembly.

Shopping Criteria

Now that you understand what a rivet gun is, its parts, how it works, and everything about rivets, let’s talk about what criteria make the difference between a good and a mediocre tool. In the following part of our article you will find the purchase criteria that you should keep in mind to choose the best tool:

Materials

The manufacturing materials really make the difference between a durable rivet gun and one that will break the first time you use it. The cheapest models are usually made with low-quality material. Even though they are perfect tools for do-it-yourself tasks or tasks around the house, they won’t last long if you use them on harder materials.

If you’re thinking about working with M5 rivets or higher, look for a more solid manufacturing model. It’s best for you to choose a riveter that will be able to handle jobs that take a longer time, like a steel or alloy riveter. The handles should be rubber or plastic that let you grab firmly and softly so you can apply pressure without hurting your palm.

Parts

Most rivet guns are sold in small, convenient cases. These assortments offer a huge variety of rivet nuts. They’ll usually include several dozens of rivets from sizes M3 to M122. These cases are perfect for do-it-yourself tasks, but not for professional tasks.

Two parts that you cannot go without with any rivet gun are the mandrels and the mounting attachments. It is necessary to have the option of changing the mounting attachment and to adapt the attachment to the different sizes of rivets. If you don’t have these parts you’ll have to buy more riveters or use a different tool to finish the task.

Type

As you’ve already seen in our shopping guide, there are many different types of rivet guns. Manual, traditional, and tong-like riveters are perfect for at home and do-it-yourself tasks. Manuel rivet guns that are like pliers or tongs, with long handles, also work well in professional environments, as they let you apply more force.

If you are looking for a rivet gun for a workshop or a carpenter’s shop, you should look for electric or pneumatic models. These types of tools let you work faster and are more comfortable and won’t tire you out as much. However, they are more expensive and require you to have an air compressor in order to work.

A steel or alloy riveter is better for jobs that take a longer time.
(Source: Neculai Carmen: 13711303/ 123rf.com)

The head and mandrels

Most rivet guns have an interchangeable head. This part lets you work with different sized rivets. Also, there is usually a multisystem key that lets you change the head. However, they also exist with automatic exchange systems that don't need tools.

The heads of the tool should be of very high quality, because they receive a lot of pressure when worked with. Make sure that they have a good construction and are made with resistant materials like steel. It is also important to make sure that the heads of the tool have been treated so that they will stay strong and are protected against corrosion.

Size and weight

Hand rivet guns usually weigh less and are smaller. This is ideal, because you will use them with only one hand. If they were too heavy it would be too frustrating and tiring to work with them. Look into the reviews of other buyers. If they think that the tool was too heavy, it could be true.

You also should not choose a riveter that’s too light, since this could be a sign of flimsy material. Ultimately, you should choose a tool that is comfortable for you. Again, pay attention to what other buyers think. The weight of tong-like riveters is less important, because you’ll work with both arms.

Design

Traditional rivet guns have a compact design, with a head and two handles that are close together. They are meant to use with just one hand and if you are accustomed to working with them, they could be uncomfortable for you. Tong-like rivet guns have two long handles and a mounting attachment with space to put the rivets.

As for the design, it’s very important that it has comfortable handles that are easy to work with. The coating of the handles should be comfortable and easy on the hand to avoid the tool slipping. Pneumatic riveters often look like a gun with a trigger that does all of the work and a small tank for the rivets and the air.

It's important to choose the material of your riveter wisely.
(Source: Pawelproc: 38619755/ 123rf.com)

Use

Rivet guns are extremely useful for binding work. Unlike some other tools, they can only be used with what they were designed for. However, riveting is the cheapest and easiest way to put two pieces of metal together. Once they are put together, the binding is fixed and reliable.

Rivet nuts are used for mechanical, carpentry, construction, and do-it-yourself jobs. Lately, they are being used to turn vans into trailers, a process called “camperization.” Since people are now using it in this way, it is now important for this tool to be portable.

Summary

Contrary to what many people believe, the best rivet guns don’t have to just be in a workshop. You can have one in your house, since they are very useful, small, and simple tools. Rivet guns have become an essential tool for all lovers of do-it-yourself projects, since you can do many things with them.

Before choosing a rivet gun from the thousands of models on the market, you should keep in mind everything that we explained. Factors like the materials you are thinking about working with, the quality of tool materials, the option of being able to change the mounting attachment, and what the rivetting is for are essential in your decision.

If you liked this article, leave a comment or share it with your friends and family members to find the best rivet guns on the market.

(Source of featured image: Pawelproc: 38619752/ 123rf.com)

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