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Forum topic by Grumpy posted 03-31-2011 05:28 AM 35154 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5186 days

03-31-2011 05:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: rivet gun

I need help with this one my fellow Lumberjocks.
I am sure many of you out there have had a problem with a pop rivet gun (the basic hand tool type).
Mine is that annoying problem when the gun won’t grip the rivet stem. It even happens with a relatively new tool.
I have tried putting chalk dust between the jaws but it’s not very effective.
Other than throwing the rotten things away (yes there is more than one culprit) does anybody have any clues on improving the grip on things.
Any advice would be appreciated.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

11 replies so far

View lewis62's profile


73 posts in 3973 days

#1 posted 03-31-2011 12:06 PM

My rivet gun has 4 changeable inserts for different size rivets .

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 4518 days

#2 posted 03-31-2011 01:16 PM

Pull the insert out and clean any debris out of the insert. Also make sure you have the correct size insert for the size rivet your trying ti use. Depending on the brand of puller you have the insert can be installed backwards. They are not all Murphy proof.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27250 posts in 4440 days

#3 posted 03-31-2011 05:03 PM

Hi Grumpy, I have had the blue handled guns for a while and had a similar problem and they were made from stamped steel. I’m not sure if the jaws were soft too. Anyway, I bought this Arrow gun with orange handles and four different sized bushings. It has a cast frame and I think the jaws are hardened. It really made a difference. I can pull 3/16 rivets easily. The only drawback is the arthritis in my thumbs. It kills me to squeeze it.

I don’t know if the frame is not strong enough on the blue guns to force the jaws together with enough gripping power or if the jaws are soft and slip on the shaft of the rivet. I use steel and aluminum shaft rivets with this new gun and it just keeps on working fine.

It could be that the serrations on the jaws in your gun might be full of metal from previous rivets. You might need a little pick to get in there to clean them….......Good luck, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5735 days

#4 posted 03-31-2011 08:45 PM

The jaws need to be able to move some as they grip the rivet. You might try a little WD-40 or what ever the local brand is.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


23286 posts in 5011 days

#5 posted 03-31-2011 11:37 PM

If there is not debris in there, I suspect Karson hit the nail on the head with lubing it so it is free to grab the stems a bit better.

This reminds me of my barber’s pop riveter. A stem or something was stuck in it. The first customer to come in was a house painter, he broke it, but they found all the parts. The next customer was engineer for a major airplane Mfr who recently mover to the Windy City for Water World. He didn’t have any idea how to get it back together. The next customer was a school teacher, still no idea what to do with the half dozen parts. The next guy was a city cop. She said she knew better than to let him even know there was a problem. When I came in, she asked if I knew anything about them. I told her no, but I had used them. She asked me to take a look at the hand full of parts she was fiddling with. It was quite obvious how the 2 jaws were forced together to grip and pull the stem. So we put it back together. I could help buy think of the national IQ tests that were on TV a few years ago. James Watt who is credited with starting the Industrial Revolution with the steam engine was a migraineur. I have concluded migraineurs are fortunate because they are blessed with the IQ to support them ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5186 days

#6 posted 03-31-2011 11:44 PM

Thanks for your help jocks. I had done most of the things you have suggested before posting this blog.
One thing I have done since is rub powdered chalk on the rivet stem. That worked so it might be an answer.
The other thought I had but did not try was to rough up the rivet stem to allow for more grip.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2921 posts in 4257 days

#7 posted 04-01-2011 12:35 AM

I am a retired sheet metal worker that has installed about 100,000 rivits over 40 years and what we did to solve this problem is to squirt WD-40 down the operning. Fixed it every time.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5186 days

#8 posted 04-01-2011 02:30 AM

Thanks Jim & Karson. I will try the WD40 next time.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View brtech's profile


1183 posts in 4257 days

#9 posted 04-01-2011 08:54 AM

Another tip:

Buy an HF air rivet gun. An organization I work with has put at least 10,000 rivets on one of them, and it works well. It does screw up from time to time, but a partial disassembly/clean/lube fixes it. It’s also MUCH easier to use. Any old compressor is fine. Remember to put a couple of drops of oil in the inlet every time you use it.

View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5186 days

#10 posted 04-02-2011 01:11 AM

Thanks for your input Brtech. I don’t have a lot of riveting jobs, but would consider an air tool if I did.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Lensman01's profile


1 post in 576 days

#11 posted 06-24-2020 08:43 AM

I came here because I was having same problem of sticking rivet and the gun not gripping the rivet properly , After reading a few of the comments.————Lo and behold WD40 worked first time and there have been no problems up to now

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