How to Remove Rivets With a Drill Bit

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Remove rivets with a drill and save the original hole.
Remove rivets with a drill and save the original hole. (Image: riveter and rivets image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com)

Rivets give a nice clean look when assembling metal parts together like aluminum or steel gutters. However, when you make a mistake and the rivet does not install correctly you will need to remove the rivet. The best way to remove a rivet is with a drill and the appropriate size drill bit. This will remove the rivet without damaging the original fastening hole.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill bit
  • Coarse steel file
  • Portable grinder
  • Center punch
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Chisel

Select a drill bit that is slightly larger than the shank hole of the rivet. The shank hole is the hole left by the shank of the rivet in the center of the rivet head. You want a bit that is slightly larger but not so large that you create a bigger hole in your material.

File the top of the rivet head down slightly with a coarse steel file or a portable grinder. Insert the point of a center punch in the center of the rivet head and tap the end of the punch with a hammer. Do not hit the punch hard, just enough to curve the inside of the hole down. This will help prevent the drill bit from “walking” while you drill out the rivet.

Place the drill bit in your drill chuck and tighten the drill chuck. Place the tip over the drill head so that you are drilling straight down. Drill through the center hole of the rivet and then bring the drill bit out of the rivet. Sometimes the rivet head will come out by attaching itself to the drill bit.

Place a chisel between the material and the bottom of the rivet head, if the head did not wrap around the drill bit. Gently tap the chisel with a hammer to pop the rivet head off the material.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes whenever you use a drill.

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