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Old 04-29-2020, 01:44 PM   #1
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How to cut steel solid rivets to length?

Hi all,

We are trying to get this re-riveting problem taken care of. Since there are probably 10 different thicknesses of metal that we need rivet together, we have decided that cutting the rivets to size may be the best option for uncommon sizes.

For this, we need to find a rivet cutter that can trim 1/4" steel solid rivets.

We just ordered this one from Amazon because it says that it can in the description. But when trying to purchase one that is very similar from Hanson Rivet, they said that it would not do the job of cutting solid steel rivets that large.

Instead of waiting for 2 weeks for it to get here from Amazon, we decided it would be best to see what others have done to combat this problem of getting the proper sized solid rivets, and then just updating this thread with our findings when it does come in.

So, what have you done to get the solid rivets to be the length that you needed?

Was it really that sensitive to sizing that you would need a different size rivet for every different combination of sheets that you are putting together?

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Old 04-29-2020, 01:57 PM   #2
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Properly bucking solid rivets is an art form. It's fun when you get it down!
Should be plenty of good info on the how-to and why-to under aviation, aircraft building and aircraft repair. You'll find a good explanation there of why the right length rivet is needed for holding strength.

Depending on how many rivets you have to cut just hold 'em in a vice and use a cutoff wheel...

If you only need a few longer rivets use " bolts instead?
If aesthetics (using rivets) is part of the equation use carriage head bolts where the heads will show...
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banman View Post
Properly bucking solid rivets is an art form. It's fun when you get it down!
Should be plenty of good info on the how-to and why-to under aviation, aircraft building and aircraft repair. You'll find a good explanation there of why the right length rivet is needed for holding strength.

Depending on how many rivets you have to cut just hold 'em in a vice and use a cutoff wheel...

If you only need a few longer rivets use " bolts instead?
If aesthetics (using rivets) is part of the equation use carriage head bolts where the heads will show...
Yea, the aviation industry seems to be the driving force behind solid rivets. Unfortunately, they only seem to want to talk about aluminum rivets from my searches so far. Finding someone who uses 1/4" steel solid rivets is like pulling teeth.

I have been so close to just saying screw the whole rivet thing and go straight to carriage bolts. The main holdup there is finding a bolt that is smooth on the top (no phillips head or other notches) and smooth on the bottom of the head (no square shaped space designed to keep the bolt from rotating). Have you seen any like that?
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:30 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Truffles View Post
I have been so close to just saying screw the whole rivet thing and go straight to carriage bolts. The main holdup there is finding a bolt that is smooth on the top (no phillips head or other notches) and smooth on the bottom of the head (no square shaped space designed to keep the bolt from rotating). Have you seen any like that?
(Almost) nothing like this exists, since you need some way to prevent the bolt from turning when the nut is torqued on - either a phillips or other slot in the head or the squared part of a carriage bolt (the "almost" exception is machine screws with rounded, un-slotted heads that are driven in by just the force of friction against the head, like the large screws in a bus that attach the chair rail to the ribs).

My bus is mostly riveted but I've had to make repairs in places with screws and bolts with rounded, phillips-slotted heads. I just fill the slot in with a little dab of Dynatron-550, and after painting they look no different than a rivet.
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Old 04-29-2020, 04:00 PM   #5
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If aesthetics is the main driver than by all means get you a bunch of button-head screws and follow MG's lead and fill the screw-heads with spooge after tightening and before painting and move on...
Quicker, easier, possibly cheaper in the long run, and the screws make their own clamps as you go...

Or...
https://www.eaa.org/eaa/news-and-pub...g-solid-rivets

Also, also, getting back to the aesthetics -- they is such a thing as a button head solid core "pop rivet".
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Old 05-06-2020, 11:41 AM   #6
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UPDATE:

nope, the rivet cutter mentioned above didn't work. It only closes about 2/5ths of the way, so it doesn't shear it completely. I imagine this is designed for aluminum rivets, which are more brittle and would probably break off cleanly when snipped 2/5ths of the way across. But steel just sort of bends instead.

Long story short, I'm at the point where I no longer believe that there are rivet cutters for 1/4" steel rivets. And I will probably just have to deal with the fact that I can't get them in the exact recommended lengths for binding the various sheets of metal together.
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Old 05-06-2020, 01:09 PM   #7
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My personal experience was that the solid rivets were cheap enough to purchase several boxes of different lengths, including some extra long (3/4") ones. 90% of the riveting was done using one size so I ordered the most of those. Can't remember what length, but not very long. Maybe 3/8".


For the couple dozen odd-ball deep spots I used vice grips and a grinder to bring the long ones down to the required length. Or used them as-is.
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Old 05-06-2020, 02:34 PM   #8
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Seems like the next logical question would be why not just use pop rivits? It there really that big of a difference in strength? I have seen many different builders on YouTube that used pop vs solid. My arms aren't long enough to reach down that 10' length of sheeting and my 13 year old isn't interested in standing around having his ear drums assaulted for that many hours.
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Old 05-06-2020, 03:18 PM   #9
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For me it came down to price, looks and fun I'm usually excited to develop a new skill.. Usually..

Closed end pop rivets are spendy little things.



They are a good deal stronger, too, but I expect that it probably doesn't matter much in the end.
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Old 05-06-2020, 05:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty View Post
For me it came down to price, looks and fun I'm usually excited to develop a new skill.. Usually..

Closed end pop rivets are spendy little things.



They are a good deal stronger, too, but I expect that it probably doesn't matter much in the end.
I doubt they're more spendy at all if add up the difference in cost of tools and that you'll continue to use a good quality pop riveter for years while one is more likely to never buck another rivet after the skoolie skins are done...
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:38 PM   #11
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I doubt they're more spendy at all if add up the difference in cost of tools and that you'll continue to use a good quality pop riveter for years while one is more likely to never buck another rivet after the skoolie skins are done...

Of course, you can only speak for yourself.
These days I use the solid rivets for rivet-worthy applications unless I can't get at the back side.
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:42 PM   #12
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Solid rivets of course require somebody on the inside holding a bucking bar. Since you have an inside helper, you could just use bolts and nuts. No special tools needed except a drill with torque control. You have rounded bolt heads on the outside instead of smooth rivets, but you can't tell that from more than three feet away and you can always fill the slots with seam sealer.

By the way, it's called a "bucking bar" because it gets unexpectedly hot, making you yell "ow, that's bucking hot!"
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:29 PM   #13
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If it were me I'd clamp the rivet in a vise (or even vise grips) and cut it with a cutoff wheel on a grinder. If you don't have a grinder a hacksaw will do it. You'll need to experiment to find the exact right length but that's just a matter of scrap material, time and patience.
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Old 05-06-2020, 11:37 PM   #14
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I'd not like to have to cut all of the rivets, but a few now and again would not be to bad to cut with a vice and a cut-off disk.
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Old 05-07-2020, 12:05 PM   #15
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Take two pieces of steel strap (pretty thick. Id say 1/8 min for steel rivets)

Stack them together and drill a hole and bolt them together so that they still move.

Open the stack slightly like a V
Drill another hole the same diameter as the rivets you want to cut in the area where the straps still cross and there is enough meat.
Then put your rivet in and close the V.

I made a VERY crude drawing.

Blue dot is rivet lol
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:17 PM   #16
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Cool, rivet scissors!
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaymcquaid View Post
Take two pieces of steel strap (pretty thick. Id say 1/8 min for steel rivets)

Stack them together and drill a hole and bolt them together so that they still move.

Open the stack slightly like a V
Drill another hole the same diameter as the rivets you want to cut in the area where the straps still cross and there is enough meat.
Then put your rivet in and close the V.

I made a VERY crude drawing.

Blue dot is rivet lol
Hmm, I've been cutting the heads off bolts with a zip wheel, but it's a bit slow and it's hard to get a precise length of bolt out of it. Something like this might let me do it faster and more accurately.

Or ... I could use the bolt cutters I just remembered that I have.
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