How to Use a Pneumatic Rivet Gun

A rivet gun.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 500-700
What You'll Need
Safety glasses
Pneumatic rivet tool
2 pieces metal (or whatever material to be secured together)
Air compressor
Air tool oil
Air line
Drill bits

A pneumatic rivet gun and its related tools are used to fasten two pieces of metal, such as steel or aluminum, or other types of solid materials together. It comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. The term pneumatic means that the rivet tool (often called rivet gun) is powered by an air compressor. The pressure entering the gun forces the rivet through two pieces of metal, thus fastening them together. The amount of air pressure can be adjusted by the regulator.

The advantage of using a pneumatic rivet tool is the stress saved on your hands. When working with a manual rivet tool, you must squeeze the handles together, which if done often, can cause cramps and muscle damage. The pneumatic tool automatically applies pressure to the rivet, saving your hands and allowing you to be more productive.

Step 1 - Figure out Where You Want to Join the Two Pieces of Metal

Put your safety glasses on first. Overlay one metal (or plastic) sheet over the other, and decide exactly at what spot you want to join them. Secure both pieces together with a clamp or pair of self-locking pliers. Lay this material on a stable working surface.

Step 2 - Drill Hole

Attach a drill bit to the drill (diameter will depend on size of hole your project requires). The pop rivet tool you purchased likely came with an assortment of rivets and drill bits.

Make sure the length of the rivet you choose is appropriate to the thickness of the two superimposed metal sheets. Drill hole through the two pieces (use the exact same diameter size as the drill bit you used). The holes matching the size of the pop rivet that will be used.

Step 3 - Pop Rivet Through the Hole

Manually insert the rivet in the hole you just drilled. The buck tail end of the rivet goes through the hole, and the head will be on the surface of the two metal sheets. It should be a perfect fit. Remove rivet and load it in pop rivet tool

Step 4 - Prepare Equipment

Find the air fitting on the rivet tool and apply air tool oil. Attach the airline from the compressor to the rivet tool’s air fitting you just applied oil to. Turn on the air compressor.

Lubricate the inside of the tool, by pointing the air discharge end to the ground and away from you, and squeezing the trigger.

Insert the rivet that fits into the hole into the pop rivet tool. There may be more than one hole on the rivet gun, so figure out which one best fits the rivet you are working with. The long narrow end of the rivet goes in first, and the pin-shaped head should be toward the gun.

Step 5 - Operate Rivet Tool

Lay the pneumatic rivet tool against the two pieces of material being joined together with the rivet. Press the trigger until you hear a popping sound and the rivet guns bounces back gently from the metal pieces.

Your two pieces of metal are now firmly secured together.