logo for kit-plane-advice.com
leftimage for kit-plane-advice.com


When building an aircraft of metal parts, good riveting is essential to the function and appearance of your project.  These tips will really pay off in saved time, effort, and frustration.

Clamp it Down!

I have found that the key to good results is ensuring the parts don’t move while I’m bucking, so clamp them down.  You may think that wing skeleton is so heavy, there is no way it will move.  Don’t fall for it!  Put a clamp or two on it and make sure it doesn’t move.

Countersunk (AN426)

I get the smoothest finished heads by using a backriveting plate.  This is a heavy piece of metal that you lay flat on the bench.  You put the countersunk head against the plate, and hit the shop head with a special backriveting set.  This works well for the stiffeners on most of the moving surfaces.

Backrivet plate
Back rivet plate
Backrivet set
Back rivet set

Backrivet barIf you can’t use the plate, then next best result comes from using a backriveting bar.  This is a heavy, wide bucking bar that you place against the flat, factory head.  You again drive the shop head with the same special set.  This works well for the top skins of the wings.  Do the top skins first, then buck the bottom skins.  This way, the prettier side is up and shows more.  You can also use this method for much of the fuselage skins.

Finally, if the other two won’t work, you are left with the regular rivet set.  I like the mushroom head with a swivel and the rubber.  I use it for 99% of the work I have to do.  But you will need the one without the rubber too.  There are some spots that are too tight for the rubber.  If the factory head is half on the metal and half on the rubber, you will get an ugly line across the head, and will have to drill it out.   Using a set with a swiveling head will keep you from making smiley faces on your skins.

Universal Head (AN470)

There is really only one way to buck these.  You have to use the right sized set.  The most important thing is to keep the set and gun parallel to the surface on which you are working.  If it is off, you will get a smiley face on the skin, or ruin the rivet and have to drill it out.  If you can’t easily reach both sides, get someone to help.

Hand Squeezing

What a time saver!   I squeeze every chance I get.   By using a pneumatic squeezer and the adjustable set holder (see Tools), I can finish the work a lot quicker than bucking.  The shape of the parts will determine from which side you will squeeze.  Just make sure you have pressure on the factory head before the squeezing pressure starts.  Otherwise the rivet may back out and then get squished.  It will be ruined, and you will have to drill it out.

Return from Riveting to Tools and Tips

Return from Riveting to Kit Plane Advice Home

Kit Plane Advice Privacy Policy
© Copyright Kit-Plane-Advice.com.  All rights reserved.