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Pneumatic riveters utilize compressed air to drive and install blind rivets through two or more components in order to bind them together. You will often find these tools being utilized in transportation, aerospace, metal manufacturing, and more. They are crucial tools in order for many applications to be successful.

This article will provide you will all the relevant information necessary about air rivet guns, how to maintain them and what to look for when buying one!

Table of Contents

What Are Air Rivet Guns?

Pneumatic rivet guns changed the construction and manufacturing industries more than a century ago. Instead of tools and brute strength, rivets could be attached far more efficiently, more cleanly, and with a lot less effort. Riveting hasn’t been the same since.

To put it simply, riveting is the joining of one surface to another using a rivet. The rivets are driven through previously drilled holes of the adjoining surfaces, and then one end is bucked or deformed to lock the surfaces into place. 

An air rivet gun allows users to drive and install blind rivets through two or more components to bind them together. It is said that a Boeing 747 aircraft contains around 1 million rivets. Now imagine having to do that all manually, it would take a ridiculous amount of time and strength!

In aircraft assembly, you must join together several sheets of material to form the airframe or fuselage of the aircraft. This is why riveting is essential in ensuring that the airframe will be able to withstand the extreme tension, compression, and torsion stresses it undergoes during flight.

The quality of pneumatic riveting is largely dependent on three things:

  • the characteristics of the rivet itself
  • the quality of the hole through which the rivet goes
  • the squeeze force from the rivet gun.

This is where the significance of the pneumatic rivet gun comes into play.

Before the rivet gun can be used, it is very important that it is lubricated. This is a critical step into minimizing the friction among the moving parts inside the gun while also ensuring that the same pressure setting consistently delivers the same result. To lubricate the rivet gun, you must apply oil to the built-in fitting on the gun before connecting it to the air compressor.

Once the supply hose is secured into the fitting, with the air rivet gun pointed downwards or away from people, pull the trigger so that the air can distribute the oil inside the gun evenly ready for use.

Advantages of Air Rivet Guns

  • Capable of providing more efficient, clean, consistent and effortless riveting
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • No need to recharge or charge batteries
  • Offer high-quality sealing
  • Reduced labor time when compared to manual rivet guns, also reduces labor costs

Disadvantages of Air Rivet Guns

  • Repair and maintenance can be difficult
  • Range is limited by the air hose length
  • Requires an air compressor

How Do Air Rivet Guns Work?

The principle behind how the air rivet gun drives the fastener into a joint is pretty easy to understand. The rivet body is inserted into the firing end of the gun with its mandrel facing out. The mandrel is then inserted into the pre-drilled hole of the materials while the rivet is still in the gun.

The most critical parts of the air rivet gun process are the parts moving inside. These parts include the regulator which controls the amount of compressed air that is allowed to enter the gun, the throttle valve and the air rivet gun trigger which activate the compressed air entering, and the piston inside the gun sliding valve which is pushed by the compressed air to activate the riveting.

The process is set in motion when the operator pulls/activates the trigger which opens the throttle valve. This allows for an opening through which the pressurized air from the compressor tank is able to escape into the sliding valve and push the piston against the rivet body.

The pressure of the supplied compressed air against the piston is just enough for it to drive the rivet into the hole, deforming the tail end of the rivet and securing the lap joint. The air is then allowed to escape to the atmosphere through the exhaust, meanwhile, a spring pushes the piston back to its initial position, so that the air rivet gun is ready for another cycle of riveting.

In some cases, you may come across a pneumatic rivet gun that operates in a slightly different manner. Instead of placing the rivet inside the gun and then firing it in the hole, the rivet is first inserted into the hole with the pin sticking out on the other side. The firing end of the gun is then positioned over the pin and the trigger is squeezed. The teeth inside the gun take hold of the pin and pull it, compressing the rivet body!

Air Rivet Gun Applications

An air pop rivet gun is extremely common in the aerospace and automotive industries, where the assembly line and tight spaces of the product under construction require a fast, convenient, yet very powerful riveting solution. They also are often used in construction and metal fabrication.

However, even the home DIYer can benefit from the simplicity and efficiency of a pneumatic riveter tool. Plenty of practical household needs can benefit from a rivet gun air, and with some projects, rivets add a nice aesthetic effect. And all of this can be achieved without putting too much stress on your hands.

Applications:

  • Aerospace industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Construction and modern architecture
  • Metal fabrication industry
  • Woodworking

Air Rivet Gun Maintenance

There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that the air powered rivet gun is working at it’s optimum and safely. These steps can be seen as preventative maintenance, which is very important for any air tool or air compressor. Visit our

Some of the steps you can take to maintain your air powered rivet gun and ensuring you get the best out of it include:

  • Checking for loose fasteners or housing, misalignments, cracks, or defects before every use
  • Identifying the optimum air pressure setting that can drive the rivet properly using as little time as possible. This will ensure that both the rivet gun and operator are not subjected to additional loads
  • Leaning into the rivet gun (using bodyweight) when riveting to help prevent wrist injuries
  • Wearing protective gear like safety glass and anti-vibration gloves
  • Ensure the rivet gun is perpendicular to the workpiece throughout the riveting process
  • Ensure that there is a consistent air supply by draining the compressor’s air filter regularly and conducting maintenance
  • You should establish a pattern for riveting based on the position of the holes while being mindlful of the pneumatic hose to avoid any accidents

Aside from maintenance and using the gun properly, it is also very important to purchase a tool which has great effectiveness, as this can stand in between a good operator and a productive day.

Air Rivet Gun Buying Guide

The following 4 considerations are important while selecting a suitable air rivet gun for your application:

  • Riveting force
  • Materials
  • Rivet body diameter
  • Air inlet connection

Riveting Force

The reverting force is the air pressure of what a pneumatic rivet gun is capable of delivering. Heavy duty air rivet guns will deliver above 10 kN of pressure while the lighter weight ones may come close to around 2 kN of force.

Materials

The material is an important consideration from which the air rivet gun is made should be lightweight and durable, so that it has ease of use over long periods of time. The handle should be designed from an ergonomic rubber handle and a body made of high-pressure resistant material for a good life span.

All terminations on the rivet gun must also be able to withstand abrasion, so that rust and damage is avoided in working conditions.

Rivet Body Diameter

As every application is different, the diameter of the blind rivets is an important factor that affects your choice when it comes to selecting an air rivet gun. It is most desirable to have an air rivet gun that is capable of handling a large variety of rivet sizes.

Air Inlet Connection

In most situations a 1/4″ connection nozzle between the air hose and pneumatic rivet gun is the most common, but you can get various sizes, so you must ensure you get the right one for you.

Air Rivet Guns Available on Amazon

I have picked out some examples of best air rivet gun that are readily available on Amazon for purchase! The first is this Chicago Pneumatic riveter that comes with variable nose pieces.

This Astro 1/4 air rivet gun boasts terrific reviews on Amazon. The 1 4 air rivet gun also is available with various nosepieces, providing power, durability, and high-speed production.

Air rivet gun harbor freight is another popular model, which can be purchased directly from their website here. You can also acquire air rivet gun harbor freight parts there!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How does an air powered rivet gun work?

The process is set in motion when the operator pulls/activates the trigger which opens the throttle valve. This allows for an opening through which the pressurized air from the compressor tank is able to escape into the sliding valve and push the piston against the rivet body. The pressure of the supplied compressed air against the piston is just enough for it to drive the rivet into the hole, deforming the tail end of the rivet and securing the lap joint. The air is then allowed to escape to the atmosphere through the exhaust, meanwhile, a spring pushes the piston back to its initial position, so that the air rivet gun is ready for another cycle of riveting.

How much air does a rivet gun use?

Typically air rivet guns require around 2 to 6 CFM of free airflow in order to operate successfully. Of course, this will vary depending on the size of the gun.

Is an air hammer a rivet gun?

Though an air hammer and rivet gun are quite similar, they are used for different purposes. Air hammers are used to cut holes and cut through tough surfaces while rivet guns are used to join together two surfaces.

What is a riveter gun?

A riverter gun is a pneumatic tool used to join one surface to another using a rivet. The rivets are driven through previously drilled holes of the adjoining surfaces, and then one end is bucked or deformed to lock the surfaces into place. Riveter guns can commonly be found being used across the automobile and aerospace industries.

How do you use a pneumatic rivet gun?

To use a pneumatic rivet gun, you need to place the rivet into the gun and align it with the hole between the adjoining surfaces. Pull the trigger to activate the action while ensuring the rivet gun is perpendicular to the workpiece and you’re leaning into the rivet gun using your bodyweight to help prevent wrist injuries.

How much air does a rivet gun use?

A rivet gun will typically use between 2-6 CFM of free airflow when in use. But, this number will vary depending on the CFM rating on the specific rivet gun tool you have at hand.

What is a pneumatic riveter?

A pneumatic riveter is a tool used for the joining of one surface to another using rivets. They utilize compressed air to drive and install blind rivets through two or more components in order to bind them together.

If you’re wondering how to plumb an air compressor setup, visit our guide!


If you have any questions regarding air rivet guns, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!