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Modify a pop rivet tool for use close to a flange.

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  • Modify a pop rivet tool for use close to a flange.

    So a thread started by MichealP about buying pop rivet tools had me looking over the two I've got. He also asked about tight to a corner operation tools. That's something that has come up for me on many occasions too. I started looking at my own tools and a video showing the use of a wedge and other options.

    Looking at my cheap no name tool got me thinking of a close quarters modification and this is the result. I suspect that for larger size diameter rivets the strength of the cut away outer barrel might become an issue. But for 1/8 and smaller I can't see any issue and the one trial I did with it was 100% good.

    As seen in the picture below there is an inner barrel with the pulling jaws. I cut away the outer part of the main handle enough to just allow the OD of this inner barrel to sit slightly proud of the cutaway. With the arrangement as shown I can now line up with a rivet hole that is 1/4" out from a 1" tall flange. And if needed I could extend the cut to allow me to nestle in to a slightly taller flange. Or I could now use the 10° wedge trick I saw in a video to allow me to lean the tip and work to a wall and still set the rivets that are in holes centered within 1/4 of the corner.

    All in all a rewarding 15 minutes of work to start off the afternoon. If you like what you see pick up one of the cheap bin tools that often comes with a little assortment of rivets and do the same thing.


  • #2
    If you find yourself only a 1/4" or 1/2" from the nose of the tool sitting tight against the rivet head you can also make a bushing to act as an extension of the nose. OD should be a touch larger than the rivet head, ID a touch larger than the stem of the rivet. Works as long as the jaws of the rivet tool can still get a grip on the stem of the rivet and can get you into tight spots such as installing a thin u-channel or up tight against a shallow flange.

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    • #3
      Excellent point Tom. And I may do that as well to further extend the nose and make any "lean" to work up against a tall face that much easier to use along with a small wedge.

      I did notice that the noses have a cone on the end that screws into the tool. And that the gripping jaws have angled faces that get pushed apart by that cone to release the jaws. Anyone making such an extended nose would want to include that same conical end on the piece.

      Just checking with my cheap tool above it looks like we could make the noses longer by about 1/4" over the hex that is there already. It might allow for more but at some point the rivets with aluminium pins would not engage with enough teeth in the gripper and might simply strip out.

      It also occurs to me that we don't need a full nose. Just a spacer sleeve of small diameter would work. For the 1/8 rivets the size of the head is 1/4" so a couple of spacer sleeves from 1/4" rod would quickly tell us what amount of extension we can use and still get a working grip on the setting pins. And once we've done a few then we can make a new nose of that length and even cut away a flat on that extended nose. For smaller flanges that would let us put the heads so close in that it was actually touching the flange in the corner.

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      • #4
        I often have that problem, and I do right now again. The spacer idea is great, and I'll be able to get by this time using just a spacer. Thanks for that idea.

        I have a few pop rivet 'guns'- one is like the one shown and can be modified, the others look like they'd fall apart if I cut anything at all away. I sure liked the air powered one I got to use a couple years ago.
        I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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        • #5
          My gun has a built in two different area's for using in different config's --- one is conventional like seen in the OP's pic and the other is a threaded area on the very end --- it takes removing the guns pivot pin and installing in another hole...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by BCRider View Post
            It also occurs to me that we don't need a full nose. Just a spacer sleeve of small diameter would work. For the 1/8 rivets the size of the head is 1/4" so a couple of spacer sleeves from 1/4" rod would quickly tell us what amount of extension we can use and still get a working grip on the setting pins. And once we've done a few then we can make a new nose of that length and even cut away a flat on that extended nose. For smaller flanges that would let us put the heads so close in that it was actually touching the flange in the corner.
            1/4" OD ACR copper tubing works well for this. Just cut to length and go to town.

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            • #7
              Well.... darn you Tom.... You got me back into the shop again.....

              Made a new nose piece from some really tough steel alloy I've got on hand. Should last long enough for me to hand it down to the next generation. I made it a bit long at around 5/8 and tested and trimmed the length until it grabbed well enough to seat and pop a rivet. It's only good for 1/8" as that's what I use the most and which most often needs tight fits. The final total length from mount face to end is about 13/32. A whiff over 3/8". So it'll work in pretty close to flush for a 3/8 tall flange or step but won't quite fit to 7/16. It's grabbing on about 5/32" of the nail from looking at the pin that came out after I popped a rivet to test it. The first bite is grabbing on a 3/16" long part of an all aluminium rivet. So perhaps we could get away with being an honest 7/16 long. But I'm not making another one.....

              The flat was marked and filed onto the new end by screwing it on with pliers and marking the side facing the end of the tool then filed away down to flush. The single flat is enough to use an adjustable wrench to pinch it snug and break it loose.

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              • #8
                I had to do something similar once and found the longest length of tube that would allow the jaws to grip the rivet shank. I think I used a bit of car brake pipe.

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                • #9
                  Oh so you must have had a relief shelf of the area and it was only so high? good duty you will have to send a pic of the rivet installed now for us to know exactly the situation.

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                  • #10
                    I had a similar problem, but it was a narrow channel I had to reach into. The little brass bush gave the extra reach I needed.

                    Ed

                    For just a little more, you can do it yourself!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by A.K. Boomer View Post
                      Oh so you must have had a relief shelf of the area and it was only so high? good duty you will have to send a pic of the rivet installed now for us to know exactly the situation.
                      Only long ago in the past. And for that time I made do with what I could get from the tool as supplied.

                      This current flurry of activity was brought on by MichealP's thread only. I used it as a cheap excuse to tidy up the bench and because he brought those past cases to mind. Then Tom came along and posted about the idea of the longer nose piece and that led to yet another seguey..... I'm easily led astray apparently.

                      So no immediate need but at least now I'm prepared for next time....

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                      • #12
                        Nice mod Ed! Clearly I'm not the first nor do I suspect that you are either.

                        That's one thing about the really cheap tools like this. For about a tenner we can cut and modify to get the job done and not lose any sleep over the tool being less than it was.

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                        • #13
                          Right, but for something a bit pricier like a pneumatic rivet gun you might be a bit more hesitant. The bushings work just fine with them as well.

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                          • #14
                            And along with bushings don't forget the offset wedges. Between the two ideas I suspect even a regular point can get pretty close. Maybe not down to 1/4" but perhaps 5/16 or at worse 3/8"?

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                            • #15
                              A very long time ago I bought a cheap little pop rivet gun that came with only one size nose piece, 1/8", but from the very end of the tool to the center line of the rivet it's just a smidgen over 5/16" and the tool itself is a smidgen over 7/16" wide. The screw-in nosepiece is much different from the nose pieces my other rivet tools have so it's 1/8" rivets only when I use it. My main tool has no brand name on it except for "Canadian Tire" printed on the padded grips and is so old it was "Made in Japan"! I also have a pneumatic riveter for when I want to use lots of rivets and especially 3/16" steel or aluminium rivets, room permitting.

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