Rivet Tool recommendations?

On many threads, I read about popping rivets and re-riveting after repair, as casually as I would think about using a wrench or a screwdriver. Unfortunately, I’ve never needed a rivet tool before.

I recently figured out my heater box motor was burned out, so I bought a much more efficient new motor & squirrel cage as recommended in another thread. Predictably, that looked way too nice against my faded, scratched up, rusty box, so I took the whole box out (yes, I’m getting that brave) and am cleaning it up. But in another thread about painting the heater box, it’s recommended to just pop out the Negative Earth tag’s rivets, and the re-rivet when ready.

I see rivets in a bunch of places on my car, but I can’t find anything on this site about a recommendation for a rivet tool, which will hopefully be usable for more than just this Negative Earth tag. Seems like a really useful skill for me to learn. I hope this isn’t a horribly dumb question, like asking for a recommendation for the best hammer to use…

Assuming there is a basic rivet tool, will it immediately become obvious which types of rivets to use for each specific task? I was surprised to see that there are more types of rivets available from the usual vendors, than there are types of washers!

Thanks in advance,


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I just got one off the shelf at home depot and it’s been fine. The main thing to make sure is that it has different interchangeable tips because different diameter rivets have different diameter pulling nails.

I think there are small headed ones available that let you reach into tight spaces. Really the only use for that would be on the D washers that hold the bulkhead coolant tubes in place.

I’ve been using one of these for about the past 30 years. Apparently it’s not made any more.

I guess this is the present day equal.


The harbor freight variety has terrible threads etc. but the rivets look just as nice and absolutely no trouble in the few dozen rivets I did so far, cheapest one on ebay. If all you want to do is small jobs like aluminium pop rivets it will perfectly fine.

I have a fancy rivet tool with an assortment of heads but I find the easiest to use and least likely to jam is my basic cheap ‘Pop’ rivet tool:

That will work for 95% of the riveting you’ll need to do including the tag on the heater box.


+1 on this old one. I have all the contemporary ones but this is the go to one when space is too tight for the modern large nozzles.

Rick OBrien

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The negative earth tab very often has broken off corners when viewed in pictures. I assume that the material is somewhat fragile. Is there a problem with crushing the corners when pop riveting them?

If you ever have a need to install stainless steel rivets, you’ll need an updated rivet gun.
As a sailor I’ve installed SS rivets into & through SS hardware and into thick extruded mast & boom sections. Destroyed my 40 yr old pop rivet gun doing it.
Don’t Etype radius arm replacement posts to frame require large SS rivets? I’m asking…as I haven’t done it.

Huck bolts…

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