I'm looking to rivet two sheets of aluminium together with the pop type. I've researched that 3.2mm rivets should go into 3.3mm holes. (Who has a 3.3mm drill bit?) That's not a lot of clearance, which I understand is part of the concept to allow adequate development of shear capacity.

However, how do I practically do this for a row of 20 rivets? I don't think that I can pre drill 20 holes to a tolerance of +/- 0.05mm. Certainly not on my cheap 250W pillar drill. The "How to Rivet" demonstrations on line only show the basic use of a rivet gun on one rivet. How would I join two sheets with a row of pop rivets?

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    $\begingroup$ 3.3mm is actually a common size - it's the tap drill size for M4 threads. $\endgroup$
    – Fergus
    Aug 26 '16 at 10:50

For large production runs, the base metal may be punched, stamped, laser cut, water jet, etc but for a DIY project, drilling is going to be your best bet. 'Match-drilling' is best, where you drill both layers at the same time ensuring that the two holes line up. Depending on the material and thickness, you could clamp, tack weld, or tape the two layers together before drilling the holes. If the geometry of your joint is conducive, you may be able to do a couple of rivets and then drill the rest of the holes on the already-assembled sandwich, assuring the layers line up.

Pop rivets will work in slightly larger holes too, if necessary, but with reduced holding power. If you have to oversize a hole, it's better to do so on the front side then on the back (blind) side. If you have access to the back side, rivet washers are also available for this situation.

If you match drill and you're still having trouble with tolerances, it may be that your drill press setup is not rigid enough. If that's the case you may want to check out this question for some strategies.

Drill bits are generally available in every .1mm increment up to 10mm without being too exotic.


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