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Rivets have become one of the most common fasteners for manufacturing, assembly jobs, construction, and a host of other applications, and just as you have to choose the right rivet for the job, you also have to choose the right rivet setting tool.

There are almost as many types of rivets as there are applications. Rivets come in different sizes, configurations, and materials, each designed to provide the best performance for a specific type of joint. However, installing the rivet properly is as important as choosing the right rivet, which is why you need the right rivet setting tool.

What Type of Rivet?
Before you can choose the right tool, you need to be sure you are using the right rivet. There are three crucial questions you should ask when choosing the right rivet for the job:

1. Is it a blind rivet or a standard rivet? 
First, you should determine whether to use a standard rivet with a solid shaft or a blind rivet.

Standard, solid rivets are one of the oldest types of rivets. They consist of a solid metal cylinder with a head on one end. To create the fastening, the other end is misshapen using a hammer of a rivet gun, which pounds it flat against the material to create a joint. Solid rivets are typically used in heavy-duty applications, such as bridge and building construction.

Blind rivets are much easier to install because you can install them from one side of a joint. Unlike solid rivets, blind rivets consist of a tubular steel shaft and a mandrel that fits through the shaft. Once the rivet is in place, the mandrel is pulled out, which collapses the rivet on the blind side of the joint to create a firm bond. Blind rivets can be used for various assembly and manufacturing applications, and it takes a different type of tool to pull and break off a mandrel as opposed to smashing a rivet end flat.

2. What is the right material? 
Just as there are different types of rivets, there are different rivet materials as well.

For example, aluminum and magnesium are used for lightweight, corrosion-resistant rivets that are ideal for aircraft manufacturing. Brass is high-strength and doesn’t create sparks, making it useful for gas appliances. Copper rivets are excellent conductors of electricity and heat, and copper-nickel resists corrosion and can handle high temperatures. Steel rivets are tough, although carbon steel rivets are tougher and designed for durability, whereas stainless steel rivets resist corrosion. Plastic rivets are nonconductive and ideal for electronics manufacturing or joining soft materials. The rivet materials will dictate the power needed in a rivet setting tool.

3. Do you have the right size? 
You also need to make sure the rivet is the right width and length for the job.

The rivet has to be the right size for the pre-drilled hole; loose rivets make weak joints. You also need the right grip range based on the length of the rivet (i.e., there needs to be enough material to form a solid joint and the length of the rivet has to match the thickness of the joint). You also have different rivet head shapes and sizes and mandrel sizes for blind bolts. All of these factors affect the type of rivet setting tool you may need. 

Matching the Rivet Setting Tool
When choosing the best rivet setting tool, you have three basic types of tools to choose from:

  • Manual tools are good for small jobs and repair work because it takes manual pressure to properly set the rivet. You only want to use manual tools for jobs in which there are only a few rivets to set because manual riveters are slower and can be tiring to use.
  • Pneumatic and hydraulic tools are high-powered and typically used in factories, for assembly work, and on heavy-duty rivets. These types of rivet setting tools are versatile and can handle a variety of rivet types, so long as you have the right settings and the right nosepiece. They can be fatiguing to use for long periods, but they tend to create solid, consistent joints.
  • Portable tools are ideal for job sites and tight locations where you want a power tool without the encumbrance of a pneumatic hose. Battery-operated rivet tools are gaining in popularity as battery technology continues to improve. They can deliver almost as much power as pneumatic tools and can be used anywhere.

When shopping for a rivet setting tool, be sure to consider how you will be using it as well as the types of rivets you will be setting. Check the specifications, such as the stroke length (to match the length of the rivet), pull force, and the types of available nose assemblies. There may be other factors to consider as well, such as the cycle time between rivets for power tools, the weight and ease of use of the tool, and the length of a charge for battery tools.

Choosing the right rivet setting tool can be confusing, especially because there are so many options. If you are in the market for a rivet setting tool, the experts at Bay Supply can help you make the right choice. Bay Supply has one of the largest catalogs of riveting equipment on the market, and we can advise you as to the right rivets and the right tools for any job.