How to Drill Out a Rivet

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Many rivets are drilled out in less than a minute.
Many rivets are drilled out in less than a minute. (Image: riveter and rivets image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com)

A common use of rivets is to fasten thin materials together, such as sheet metal or plastic. It is often impractical or undesirable to screw thin materials together because they can be pulled apart easily. Rivets supply a cap and pressure to both sides to provide holding power. Drilling out a rivet is a simple process that usually takes less than a minute, unless your rivet is large and solid. In such cases, do not worry. They also can be drilled out.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Nail or metal punch

Aluminum Rivets

Choose a drill bit the same size as the shaft of the rivet and insert it into the drill. The bit size need not be as large as the head of the rivet itself.

Use a drill bit the same size as the shaft of the rivet.
Use a drill bit the same size as the shaft of the rivet. (Image: bit image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com)

Position the drill bit on the head of the rivet and continue to drill until the head falls off.

Remove the remains of the rivet with a nail set.

A metal punch or nail set is used to align holes or to remove remnants of the rivet.
A metal punch or nail set is used to align holes or to remove remnants of the rivet. (Image: nail set image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com)

Solid Rivets

Choose a drill bit the same size as the shaft of the rivet and insert it into the drill.

Position the drill bit on the head of the rivet and continue to drill until the head is removed. If you are unable to center the drill bit on the head of the rivet, use a sharp punch to dimple the center point. If the head will not disappear from drilling, you may need to use a larger bit. If you must install a new rivet, be careful not to over-size the hole.

Hammer out the remaining part of the rivet with a metal or nail punch. Support the backside if there is a possibility of denting the surface.

References

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