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Old 05-14-2020, 11:43 AM   #1
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Tips for using an air hammer to remove ceiling rivets?

I have this Harbor Freight impact hammer: https://www.harborfreight.com/air-im...kit-92037.html and I'm trying to use it to remove my ceiling rivets. I'm able to use this pointy chisel on the mandrels: https://www.harborfreight.com/7-in-l...-pc-68276.html and they pop out with no problem, but I'm not using the chisel correctly and it takes forever to get a single rivet out with it. So far I got one rivet head off with it and it took a few minutes, and I gave up on the second one.

Both the 7-inch chisel and the one that came with the hammer have the same sort of blunt profile. Is it worth it trying to sharpen with edge with an angle grinder?
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Old 05-14-2020, 12:32 PM   #2
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Is it worth it trying to sharpen with edge with an angle grinder?
There's not much to lose and lots to gain if it does work so give it a try and find out. Modifying tools to fit the need is commonplace in my shop. If it works, great! If it doesn't, try something else. Rinse and repeat.

Several minutes per rivet would be super frustrating. I read somewhere that Harbor Freight sells a higher quality air hammer that hits a lot harder. That could solve the problem, too. Good luck!
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Old 05-14-2020, 12:50 PM   #3
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What compressor are you running it with?
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Old 05-14-2020, 12:58 PM   #4
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What compressor are you running it with?
Pancake compressor, 150 PSI, 2.6 CFM.
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Old 05-14-2020, 01:02 PM   #5
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Pancake compressor, 150 PSI, 2.6 CFM.
That's not enough ass to push an air chisel. That's your problem. And yes sharpening the bit will help too.
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Old 05-14-2020, 02:00 PM   #6
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That's not enough ass to push an air chisel. That's your problem. And yes sharpening the bit will help too.
So I found that if I start the rivet head coming off with a few whacks with a mallet and cold chisel, the air hammer chisel will pretty easily take it off the rest of the way. Still pretty physically tiring, but I managed to get one row of rivets off which is all I needed for what I'm working on right now.
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Old 05-14-2020, 02:42 PM   #7
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Look for a chisel with a curved end and a "V" notch in it. The curved end lets you get the chisel parallel to the sheeting. The notch keeps the chisel lined up on the rivot so it doesn't bounce off. Periodically sharpen the chisel and it will cut through the rivots like butter. With a sharp chisel I was cutting through a rivot in a second.

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Old 05-14-2020, 03:32 PM   #8
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Look for a chisel with a curved end and a "V" notch in it. The curved end lets you get the chisel parallel to the sheeting. The notch keeps the chisel lined up on the rivot so it doesn't bounce off. Periodically sharpen the chisel and it will cut through the rivots like butter. With a sharp chisel I was cutting through a rivot in a second.

Ted
The air hammer came with that kind of chisel, and I got another one with a set of chisels that included the pointy one. Since I have a spare, I'm going to try filing one of them down to be much sharper and see where that gets me. At least I feel like it's within the realm of the possible now to get all my rivets out.
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Old 05-14-2020, 05:09 PM   #9
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I have this Harbor Freight impact hammer:
I used the same hammer and chisels (but only paid $9 ). Punched out the mandrels in 1 second, cut the rivets in 2 seconds, literally.

At the end of this video, he shows how to sharpen and shape your chisel.

I used an 8 gallon comp.....agree with CB, that pancake doesn't have enough oomph. Got all my ceiling and walls down in about 2 hours total, by myself.

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Old 05-14-2020, 05:15 PM   #10
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No way a pancake will run that kind of air tool. You're getting like 1/5 of the tool probably.
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Old 05-14-2020, 05:34 PM   #11
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When sharpening the chisel don't sharpen it to a vee shape - in other words, don't grind both faces. Instead, grind only one face so that the point is on an edge, like . Like a wood cutting chisel. This helps the cutting edge get under the rivet head rather than banging against the rim of the rivet head. I don't recall now which way I held the chisel, but I do remember it sheared off rivet heads significantly faster with this shape.
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Old 05-14-2020, 05:35 PM   #12
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When sharpening the chisel don't sharpen it to a vee shape - in other words, don't grind both faces. Instead, grind only one face so that the point is on an edge, like . Like a wood cutting chisel. This helps the cutting edge get under the rivet head rather than banging against the rim of the rivet head. I don't recall now which way I held the chisel, but I do remember it sheared off rivet heads significantly faster with this shape.
That's what get em off the fastest for me, too.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:14 PM   #13
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Cutting my ceiling panels off between the ribs was pretty much pointless and damaged my windows, but at least it is more pleasant to have a 3" wide strip of ceiling drop on my head than a full panel.

This is probably a known thing, but initially I was having trouble keeping the pointy chisel on the mandrel and figured out if I eased the trigger on slowly I could keep the tip on it easily. Also very handy for punching the remains of the rivets up after the heads are cut off.
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