How to Remove a Pop Rivet

A pile of pop rivets next to a pop rivet gun.
What You'll Need
Metal drill bit
Center punch

Pop rivets are one of the most simple fasteners to use when fixing two pieces of metal together. However, it's easy to make mistakes even if you're experienced with them, so learning how you can remove them without damage to the metal is a useful endeavor. Removing the pop rivets is actually very easy; you will simply need a drill and drill bit capable of drilling through metal. Only once the rivet has been removed can you apply a new pop rivet properly to secure the pieces.

Step 1 - Select Your Drill Bit

The first thing you should do is spend time carefully choosing the right drill bit for your project. The drill bit needs to be slightly bigger than the stem of the rivet but smaller than the head. The purpose of drilling through the rivet isn't to drill right though; it's simply to take the head off so that the fastening can be removed. The drill bit you choose should be able to cut this head.

Step 2 - Prepare

Put the drill bit into the drill and tighten the chuck up. Make sure that you support your metal work properly so that you can safely and easily work on the rivet in question.

Some rivets have a center indent while others have a completely smooth head. If yours are smooth, hammer the tip of a small punch into it to create an indent for guide.

Step 3 - Drill

Place the tip of the bit in the center of the rivet head and start drilling, but keep the speed low at this point. It can be difficult not to skid everywhere when drilling rivets which is why you will need start slowly. Once the head comes away from the body of the rivet stop immediately. Do this quickly because carrying on could cause damage.

Step 4 - Remove the Rest of the Rivet

If the rivet hasn't come out already due to the vibrations, then you can simply remove the rest of the rivet by using the center punch and hammer. Put the punch onto the rivet stem and then give it a hit; this should make the rest of the rivet fall out. If you have done this carefully and properly then the metal around the rivet should not be damaged at all.

Step 5 - Repeat on Other Rivets

Repeat the process on other rivets until you have removed all of them. Your two pieces of metal can be separated at this point and readjusted if needed. You can then choose another method of attaching them or decide to rivet them again.