How to Remove Rivets

By Laura Hageman

Updated September 26, 2017

A rivet is a type of fastener that has a smooth shaft and most of the time a solid head. There are different kinds of rivets and a few will have a hole in the center of the head. Rivets are used on aircrafts, bridges and metal buildings, among other things. They are hard to loosen, which is why they are so frequently used.

Grind off the head of the rivet. This will be where the rounded tip is. Use a dremel to grind it flat.

Indent the center of the area you ground on the rivet. Use a center punch to do this.

Drill through the rivet head with a drill bit. Then lightly tap the head of the rivet with a drift punch. Be sure not to enlarge the hole, otherwise you will need to replace the rivet with a larger rivet.

Drill out the remaining rivet, if needed. The shaft of the rivet is also considered the shank or stem. You may not have to drill out the remaining part of the rivet as long as it doesn't fit too tightly. Most of the time it will fall out on its own.

Replace the rivet. As long as the hole didn't increase in size then you can replace the rivet with another one of the same size. The most common size of rivet is 1/8 inch.

Items you will need

  • Dremel with a carbide tip

  • Drill bit

  • Drift punch

  • Center punch


Make sure to drill into the rivet straight to prevent enlarging the hole.