Riveting 101...You can do it! Part 2

Posted by Ramp-O-Matic Staff on

 Riveting Tools

So now we have the fundamentals of tubular rivets as well as how to choose the proper rivet length under our belts, new lets dig into how to go about clinching rivets into place.

I have added some affiliate links to the tools I am going to discuss in this entry. As you can see, we have a wide range of budgets covered, with pros and cons to each method.  


The first tool is the least expensive of the bunch, the HT-174 hand rivet setter from Hanson Rivet.


  • Cheap! Only $25, and you can get it here or on Amazon
  • Fits just about anywhere
  • Easily portable


  • Can be a bit fidgety to hold the part you are riveting in place, while holding the tool and a hammer.
  • More room for error when striking tool with hammer


Hand Squeeze Riveter


  • Cheaper than the Hanson Bench Riveter
  • Fits just about anywhere if the jaw is deep enough
  • You can use the same squeezer dies in the Arbor press style or Hanson bench rivet press later if you decide to upgrade
  • Easily portable


  • Can be a bit fidgety to hold the part you are riveting in place, while holding the tool with both hands and squeezing
  • The deep jaw versions can be kind of expensive


Pinrestore Style Arbor Press Riveter


  • Cheaper than the Hanson Bench Riveter
  • Good for DIY types who like projects
  • Can build yourself from Harbor Freight arbor press and Hanson squeezer dies, or buy the kit from Pinrestore.


  • Press ram is big and will hit the side of deep walled objects like ramp troughs
  • The longest squeezer heads are still too short for some tasks
  • Requires assembly, spotting and drilling holes to convert into rivet press use- not for everyone.
  • Very heavy, not easily portable.

SQ-2-14 CA2002-14 1 LONG SQUEEZER- Need 1
SQ-5-14 CA2005-14 1 LONG SQUEEZER DIE- Need 1


Hanson Bench Riveter- The Cadillac of bench riveters


  • Smooth as butter to operate
  • Narrow profile gets in *most* places
  • Bench mounted presses keep one hand free to hold the riveted item
  • Cheaper than a Stern topper
  • Fast
  • Riveting pressure is easily controlled


  • Costs almost as much as the MSRP of a Stern Jurassic Park topper after buying squeezers
  • Does not cover 100% of the riveting you may want to do due to clearances. 
  • Handle will hurt your hand over time on large rivet jobs (not typical!)
  • Not easily portable like smaller options

You will also need these items to go with the bench riveter:
HT-800 Upper and lower squeezer holder- need 1 for bottom
SQ-2-14 CA2002-14 1 LONG SQUEEZER- Need 1
SQ-5-14 CA2005-14 1 LONG SQUEEZER DIE- Need 1


So, how do they work?

First, the HT-174 hand tool.

As with any riveting job, you need to support the rivet head on something firm. On other types of rivet tools, the head is held by a mating surface on the squeezing tool. With this tool, you will need a hard block of material to hammer against. For ramp flaps, I have a 1"x1.25" square block of steel that comes in handy. You can wrap the edges with some electrical tape or adhesive felt to ensure they don't scratch the edge of the ramp. You could use a block of hardwood, but I prefer the positive contact from steel. 

On larger materials, like ramps, you will want to support the other side of the object, which will help keep things level. You are going to use some slight pressure from the tool itself to hold the ramp in place, since both hands are going to be in use.

Then gently tap the tool with the hammer, and check to see how much force is required to roll the rivet edges over. The amount of force is going to feel different depending on what size hammer you use, so just sneak up on it until you get a feel for the process. That is all there is to it. See, that was easy! Don't be afraid to practice on a scrap sheet of plastic with some 9/64" holes drilled through it. 


For some jobs, this hand tool is the only one that will work! Take a look at this long "Z" bracket on the Jokerz side ramps- the close clearance is a problem for any of the bigger riveters.


Business end of the hand riveter

Second, the hand squeezer tool.

I do not own one of these at the moment, but they do work pretty well. The main problem I have with them is that you need to somehow hold the rivet, the washer, the two parts your are riveting, and the tool with only two hands. Not only do you need to hold the tool, you are most likely going to need both hands on the tool to control your squeezing motion. This can be a bit frustrating, and really time consuming on larger rivet jobs. 

Third, the bench mounted riveters.

I will cover both the Pinrestore and the Hanson presses here. They both work pretty well, with the edge going to the Hanson. If you are doing a lot of riveting and restorations, this is one of those buy once, cry once tools. The edge goes to the Hanson (and it isn't all that close, either), because the Hanson has a much narrower profile. This narrower profile not only gets into tighter places, but it also allows you to see what you are doing better.

The spring loaded handle can be adjusted via the threaded squeezer mounts as well. Lastly, the mounting holes for this design allows you to hang the press over the end of your workbench, which allows much more free movement when you are working on larger items like ramps. 

You can purchase squeezer dies in various lengths, and even different sizes...even though 99% of pinball riveting uses 1/8" body rivets. I use the longest length dies, and have not found much of a need to go smaller. 

As you can see, you have a clear view of what you are doing.

The other great thing about bench riveters is speed. They are quick because you don't have to worry about the tool moving around, and you don't have to fiddle with a stack of parts an a hand tool all at once. 


So now you have plenty of information to help you along your riveting journey. Hopefully this information will help you decide that riveting isn't all that hard afterall!



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