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What is an Air Riveter?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

An air riveter, or automatic rivet gun, as it is commonly called, is a device that sets pop rivets through the use of an air compressor. This method of setting pop rivets is a much faster and easier process than using a hand rivet gun. While many pop rivets are difficult to squeeze and set by hand, the air riveter uses the power of compressed air to easily snap the rivet into place. Much like a nail gun makes sinking nails easier than using a hammer, the air riveter makes large sheet metal jobs much easier to complete.

A pop rivet is a small fastener used in sheet metal fabrication. The rivet is placed into a pre-drilled hole and squeezed to tighten the rivet into place, effectively fastening the sheet metal into position. When using a hand rivet tool or rivet gun to squeeze the rivets, a metal worker's hands can become sore and tired after only a few rivets. When using an air riveter to squeeze the rivets into place, however, the process is as simple as placing a rivet into the tool and pulling a trigger.

An air riveter is used for sheet metal fabrication.
An air riveter is used for sheet metal fabrication.

An added benefit to using the air riveter is in the flat and even placement of the rivets. Often, a hand rivet tool will squeeze the rivet sideways or at a slight angle due to the uneven pressure being applied by a worker's hand. As the hand becomes more tired and fatigued, the riveting becomes more sloppy. Since the air riveter does not tire, the rivets are placed straight and neat in line, thereby creating a more professional appearance in the finished work.

The invention of the small, portable air compressor has made the use of the air riveter much more convenient. By placing a small gasoline-powered air compressor on the ground, the task of riveting troughs of eaves becomes as easy as running an air line up to the roof line. These tools, accompanied by a cordless drill, can take hours off standard eaves trough installation. The most expensive investment in the package is the air compressor, as the air riveter is comparable in cost to a top-of-the-line hammer.

Most air riveters are easily rebuilt and maintained by the owner. With very few moving parts, the typical maintenance requires only a drop or two of light oil before and after each use. The oil protects the riveter's internal parts against rust from moisture in the air supply.

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    • An air riveter is used for sheet metal fabrication.
      By: Kybele
      An air riveter is used for sheet metal fabrication.