Fix-It Chick: Use pop rivets for fastening materials

Use a manual pop rivet gun to install pop rivets is an easy way to permanently connect a wide range of materials together.

Pop rivets are hollow, cylindrical-shaped connectors that have a long pin protruding past the rivet head. Using a manual pop rivet gun to install pop rivets is an easy way to permanently connect a wide range of materials together.

Step 1: Pop rivets are available in several different lengths and diameters. Measure the total thickness of the materials to be joined together. Choose a pop rivet with a grip range equal to or slightly larger than the thickness of the material. Rivets with larger diameters have stronger tinsel and shear strengths.

Step 2: Pop rivets are made out of a variety of materials. Aluminum and steel rivets are the most common. Choose a rivet that is similar to the material being fastened. Use aluminum rivets for softer materials and steel rivets for harder materials. Using dissimilar metals together can cause rapid corrosion and joint failure.

Step 3: Use a drill bit that is equal to or slightly larger than the outer diameter of the pop rivet shaft to drill a hole through the material to be fastened. The closer the hole size is to the rivet size, the stronger the joint will be. When connecting soft materials together, a washer can be used on the underside of the rivet to ensure the secondary head will not pull through the material.

Step 4: Insert the rivet into the hole until the underside of the rivet head is flush with the top layer of the material. The bottom of the rivet should protrude slightly past the bottom of the material. If the grip range of the rivet does not match the thickness of the material, the rivet will not fasten properly.

Step 5: Pop rivet guns typically have a variety of insert heads. Choose the insert that best fits the pop rivet pin diameter. Use the wrench that comes with the rivet gun to install the proper head.

Step 6: With the rivet in place, place the head of the gun over the rivet pin and slide the gun down the shaft until the face of the gun is resting on the rivet head.

Step 7: Hold the material and gun firmly and squeeze the handles of the gun together.

Step 8: Release the handles and squeeze them again. Continue to squeeze and release the gun handles until the pin pops; breaking away to leave the rivet firmly in place.

— Have a home improvement question for the Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at