The Essential Guide to Blind Rivets

A deep dive into application, specific types of blind rivets, specifications, tips on working with a distributor, and much more.

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Blind rivets are commonly used in applications where a strong, permanent bond is required. They are called blind rivets because they can be set from one side without having to access the back of a workpiece. This makes blind rivets ideal for aircraft manufacturing, boat building, and applications where only one side of the materials can be accessed.

Blind rivets are constructed with two parts: a tubular rivet and a mandrel. The mandrel consists of a thin tail and a ball-shaped head, which fits through the rivet body. Once the rivet has been set, the mandrel tail breaks off, leaving the mandrel ball head positioned securely inside the rivet. Blind rivets are rapidly replacing nuts and bolts and welding because they offer speed and efficiency in virtually all assembly processes.

Those familiar with fasteners often use “pop rivet” as a generic term for blind rivets. POP® rivets are manufactured by Stanley Engineered Fastening. So, POP® rivets are one POP-ular type of blind rivet, but not all blind rivets are POP® brand rivets.

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Chapter 1

Blind Rivet Applications

Blind rivets are extremely popular because they are fast to install, easy to use, and ideal for joining different materials. In addition to aviation and industrial applications, blind rivets are used in:


chapter3_5-bulbing-rivet-iconElectronics: Assembly of housings and mounting of circuit boards

agriculture-iconAgriculture: Manufacturing of agricultural equipment and field repair and maintenance


solar-energy-icon Solar power and green energy: Manufacturing, installation, service, and repair of solar arrays, wind power units, and other green energy systems

truck-iconTransportation: Fleet service, maintenance, service, and modifications for trucks, buses, and transportation equipment

rail-iconRailcars and mining: Heavy-duty railway and mining equipment manufacturing, service, repair, and maintenance, including rolling stock and rails

Light-Bulb-iconLighting: Commercial and residential light fixtures, assemblies, and controls


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How to Install a Blind Rivet

  1. Insert the rivet mandrel into the installation tool.
  2. Position the rivet through the pre-drilled holes in the two materials to be joined.
  3. Activate the installation tool, usually by pulling a trigger. The tool pulls the mandrel head into the body of the rivet, deforming the blind head to form a bond while clamping the two pieces of material together.
  4. Once the rivet is set, the tool breaks off the mandrel at a predetermined break point. This firmly sets the rivet head on the surface of the material being joined, and the tail end of the rivet is radially expanded and clamped on the blind side of the workpiece.

Chapter 2

A Brief History of Blind Rivets

People have been using rivets for millennia. The first rivets were used in Egypt 5,000 years ago to fix the handles of clay jars. By the time of the Romans, rivets were commonly used in construction, and even the Vikings used rivets to help construct their longboats.

The blind rivets we use today were initially developed for aircraft manufacturing. Engineers discovered that the use of dome-headed blind rivets in aluminum aircraft created drag, so they developed the flush rivet. Once manufacturers demonstrated the value of blind rivets in making airplanes, they began being used in other applications.

Pop rivets were among the earliest types of blind rivets. Pop rivet has become a generic term—like Kleenex has become for tissues or Xeroxing has become for making copies—although they are actually a specific style of rivet. British inventor Hamilton Neil Wylie patented the blind rivet tubular design with a mandrel as the pop rivet in 1916. 

In the 1920s, when airplanes migrated to all-metal construction, Wylie went to work for Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. The aircraft manufacturer later called on George Tucker Eyelet Co. to help develop the pop blind rivet. George Tucker Eyelet Co. became United Shoe Machinery Corporation, which was later acquired by Stanley Engineered Fastening, which holds the patent today.

Pop rivet production grew to 3 billion between 1939 and 1945. After World War II, pop rivets became widely used when making appliances, metal furniture, and automobiles. Since then, pop rivets have grown in popularity, and new blind rivet tool designs have emerged. 

The first blind rivet tools had teeth that would grasp the mandrel to pull and collapse the blind side of the rivet, then snap off the mandrel's tail. The original tools were handheld and required the operator to position the rivet in a pre-drilled hole before pulling the trigger to set the rivet. Today, there are automated riveting systems that feed the fasteners for fast, efficient, and consistent installation without creating repetitive motion injuries for factory workers.

As blind rivets are used for new applications in construction and related industries, tool design continues to evolve. For example, portable rivet tools continue to become lighter and easier to use, and battery-powered tools are being used for more robust applications.

Chapter 3

Blind Rivet Specifications

When selecting the right blind rivet for the job, you must consider the rivet's physical characteristics, including the materials' nature, the holes, the thickness of the joint, corrosion resistance, tensile strength, shear strength, and style.

Materials to Be Fastened


Whenever possible, the rivet body material should be the same or similar to the material(s) of the two components being joined. Using the same type of material minimizes the possibility of failure or corrosion. You can find blind rivets made of various alloys, nylon, and thermoplastics. You can also find blind rivets in different finishes, such as metal-plated, with a protective coating, or painted to prevent corrosion. Note that the material used for the rivet mandrel may differ from the material used for the body.

Hole Size

chapter2_3-hole-size-iconThe size of the pre-drilled holes should match the rivet diameter. If the hole is too small, it will be difficult to set the rivet, and if it’s too large, a gap could create added stress on the rivet or create installation problems. Holes that are too large can create a problem by allowing the blind head to expand in the space between the workpieces. If the holes are pre-drilled separately, it could make matching the hole size and spacing for the two parts to be joined more difficult.

Material Thickness

chapter2_4-material-thickness-iconThe combined thickness of the two pieces to be joined dictates the grip range of the blind rivet. Rivets come in different lengths with different grip ranges. The longer the required grip range, the thicker the rivet materials.

Primary Head Style

chapter2_1-style-of-rivet-head-iconThe rivet head's style will determine the joint's final look. The rivet head is on the exposed side of the joint, and you want to have a consistent appearance where the head is visible. Most installers use a dome head for general applications. Flush rivets or countersunk rivets are used for low-clearance applications. Use a large bearing head or large flange rivet to cover larger holes. Large bearing heads also provide added support for thin, soft, or brittle materials, such as composites or plastics.

Leakproof Joints

chapter2_5-liquid-join-icon Watertight or airtight applications require a leakproof, nonpermeable joint. You need leakproof blind rivets for applications such as tanks, pipes, appliances, and refrigerated trailers.

Corrosion Resistance

chapter2_6-corrosion-iconBlind rivets are also useful for applications where materials are exposed to corrosives, such as water, salt spray, or chemicals. Choose a rivet material or coating that won’t corrode. Bonding two dissimilar metals together may create galvanic corrosion, so choose less corrosive combinations or apply a protective barrier or finish.

Rivet Materials

chapter3_7-hs-rivet-iconRivets are made of different materials for different applications. For example, aluminum blind rivets are lightweight and durable, making them perfect for aircraft manufacturing. Brass rivets are malleable and offer high strength but don’t create sparks. Copper-nickel rivets are corrosion-resistant and perform well under stress and high temperatures. Stainless steel is hard, corrosive-resistant, and withstands wear. Plastic rivets are ideal for joining softer materials, such as rubber or urethane.

Shear or Tensile Strength

chapter2_7-tension-iconTensile strength is the maximum stress a blind rivet can withstand along its length. Shear strength is the maximum force a rivet can withstand as the two parts of the joint try to slide apart. Heavy-duty applications, such as agricultural or transportation equipment, tend to require a greater shear and tensile strength.

Chapter 4

Types of Blind Rivet Tools

Just as there are different blind rivets for different applications, there are different types of blind rivet tools. For example, some rivets require more power to install, and various tools manage the excess mandible differently.

Solid rivets have been used for millennia and can be installed using a hammer. Solid blind rivets require more power to install, so they are usually installed using hydraulic or pneumatic rivet tools.

You can use manual rivet tools for smaller jobs, occasional repairs, or where power is unavailable. Manual rivet tools are long-handled devices that use the leverage power of the handles to set the rivet. Handheld rivet tools can be useful for field repairs, such as repairing a truck bed or a highway sign. Of course, handheld tools are slower and can be tiring to use, so they are best for occasional use or when you only have a few rivets to install.

For assembly lines or applications where there are multiple rivets to install, you need power tools. Most factories use pneumatic or hydraulic tools because they are fast, efficient, and powerful. These heavy-duty tools require a hose and a compressor to generate power, so they are ideal for stationary applications but aren’t very portable.

Pneumatic rivet tools use compressed air to propel the rivets into place quickly and easily. Pneumatic tools require compressed air to operate, so they are connected to a compressor via hoses. Pneumatic tools can be heavy, or they can be extremely lightweight. Pneumatic rivet tools also have the advantage of providing consistent, quality riveting. However, the hoses limit mobility and range, and the compressor needs to be adjusted to the right pressure for quality work.

More installers are using battery-operated rivet tools for portable applications or where they need to access tight spaces. Although they are not as powerful as hydraulic or pneumatic tools and tend to use smaller nose pieces, battery-powered rivet tools are versatile. Battery technology continues to improve, so portable rivet tools are powered by 12-, 14-, 16-, 18-, 18.8-, or 20-volt batteries. They are also lighter and can be used for extended periods without recharging. Batteries have become standardized, and fast battery chargers are increasing productivity using portable tools.

One of the biggest mistakes most people make is using the wrong nose assembly for the job. Different types of rivets require matching nose assemblies for proper installation. It’s easy to choose a nose piece with the wrong grip range.

Rivet tool makers such as Huck have developed a portable power rig for hydraulic and pneumatic tools to address this problem. This battery-powered rig uses the same hoses for hydraulic and pneumatic tools but in a battery-powered unit that can be taken anywhere. The real advantage of the portable power rig is it can use the entire range of nose pieces for any job.

When shopping for the right riveting tools, you want to consider which nose pieces you will need and choose the right tool to accommodate them. You also want to consider the pull stroke of the tool, which is the distance the tool must pull the mandrel to set the rivet. Different applications require a different degree of force, so consider the traction power needed to set the rivets. Traction power is usually measured in pounds or newtons (N). One pound is 4.45N.

If you are looking for a pneumatic or hydraulic tool, then power may not be a consideration, but you want a lightweight and easy-to-use tool. A heavy tool will tire the installer quickly. For portable blind rivet tools, you want to consider the tool's weight and the battery voltage, which determines pull strength, time to recharge, ease of use, and other factors.

Chapter 5

Different Types of Blind Rivets

As new applications continue to emerge, blind rivets have evolved into various styles and designs. Some of the most commonly used blind rivets are:

Nonstructural/Open-End Rivets

chapter3_1-open-end-rivet-icon Open-end rivets are the most common, general-purpose rivets. The rivet has the same hollow design with a headed pin, but the mandrel stays inside the rivet sleeve after the rivet is set. The head on the blind side is drawn in to clamp the workpieces, and the head creates a bulge on the blind side for a secure joint. The tail of the mandrel or “stem” is broken off and discarded, leaving some airspace through the fastener. This type of rivet is used in manufacturing and other applications but does not have the strength needed for structural applications.

>> Open End Rivets


Closed-End (Sealed) Rivets

chapter3_3-closed-end-rivet-icon When setting closed-end rivets, the mandrel head is broken off during the setting process, so it remains sealed inside the rivet shaft. Sealing the pin or mandrel inside the shaft prevents it from falling out after installation, which can cause mechanical or electrical problems. Closed-end rivets are designed specifically where tight seals are needed, such as an airtight or watertight joint, to prevent leakage of liquid or vapor.

>> Closed End Rivets


Multi-Grip Rivets

chapter3_2-multi-grip-rivet-icon Multi-grip rivets are designed to accommodate different material thicknesses requiring varying grip ranges. Multi-grip rivets are also used where it’s difficult to align two surfaces to be joined, such as curved surfaces or where there are pre-drilled holes that are difficult to align. Using multi-grip rivets also saves money in manufacturing applications where the same rivet can be used for different joints, thus limiting the number of rivet styles to be kept in inventory.

>> Multi-Grip Rivets


Pull-Thru Rivets

chapter3_4-pull-thru-rivet-icon Pull-thru rivets are used in applications where the joint needs to be flush, and no head projection is allowed on either side of the joint. These rivets are widely used in applications such as electronics manufacturing, where space is at a premium, and there can be no chance a mandrel ball will drop into the assembly components. Pull-thru rivets also remove sharp protrusions that could damage wiring or other sensitive components.

>> Pull-Thru Rivets


Bulbing Rivets

chapter3_5-bulbing-rivet-icon Bulbing rivets have a slotted rivet body designed to split and collapse into three folded sections as the mandrel head is pulled through. The result is a blind rivet with a large, “three-winged” load-bearing head that provides more support to the blind side of the joint. Bulbing rivets are especially useful in fastening soft or brittle materials, such as plastics or composites. They are available in structural and nonstructural versions and can accommodate various application strength requirements.

>> Bulbing Rivets


T Rivets

chapter3_6-tpeel-rivet-icon Similar to the bulbing rivet, T rivets or peel rivets have aluminum split shafts that allow the body to separate into three or four “peeled back” sections as it’s set. The peel rivet looks like splayed legs on the blind side of the joint. The legs provide a much larger surface area to spread the load, so this rivet is perfect for joining soft materials such as plastic, wood, or insulation. They are also popular for automotive component assembly applications.

>> T Rivets


Structural High-Strength Rivets

chapter3_7-hs-rivet-icon High-strength rivets are used for structural applications to create load-bearing joints. These rivets are designed to offer higher shear and tensile strength. They have a mandrel lock that ensures the mandrel is retained inside the rivet body, enhancing the fastener's shear strength.

>> Structural High-Strength Rivets


Mate Rivets

chapter3_8-mate-rivets-icon Mate rivets are used for applications that require extra-long grip ranges, such as joining thick or soft materials, including metal furniture, playground equipment, and street signs. A mate rivet is a two-piece fastener that requires access to both sides of the joint. To create the joint, the male part of the mate rivet is inserted through the pre-drilled holes, and the female part with a preformed head is inserted from the opposite side. The male rivet is set so the mandrel expands to grip the workpiece while remaining inside the female rivet sleeve. As a result, the mate rivet creates a secure joint that does not crush or damage the joined materials. The mate rivet provides a secure clamp force, even with nonuniform drill holes, and both sides of the joint have a clean, attractive head.

>> Mate Rivets


Speed Fastener Rivets

chapter3_9-Speed-Icon Factory assembly lines require faster assembly times. Speed fasteners are designed for automated assembly applications. Dozens of rivets are loaded into the rivet tool simultaneously. The automated rapid blind riveting systems set a series of rivets at feed rates of up to 60 rivets per minute. The rivets themselves are hollow and don’t have an internal mandrel. Instead, they rely on a “reusable” mandrel built into the rivet tool, which saves on the expense and hassle of collecting broken mandrel stems.

>> Speed Fastening Rivets

Chapter 6

Working with the Right Fastener Distributor

Where you source your blind rivets is as important as choosing the right fasteners. Bay Supply has been working with global fasteners and toolmakers for decades, and it has one of the largest inventories of fasteners in the United States, including all the major brands.

Our experts in fasteners and installation systems are available to advise customers and show them how to get the job done right at the right price. Bay Supply’s specialists can help you choose the right solution for any blind rivet installation, helping you find the right style, brand, fit, size, and number of rivets for any application.

When product designers specify a fastener by brand name and type, they want a unique rivet engineered for the application with the highest quality and integrity—for example, for applications where appearance matters, such as aircraft manufacturing, consistency, and performance.

Bay Supply is a top-tier, factory-authorized stocking distributor for all top fastener brands. We have invested many resources in the cross-analysis of fastener specifications to establish substitute or alternative brands at various price points. Bay Supply even offers our own brand of BayFast™ blind rivets to meet the economic demands of our distributors.

Substitute/Alternative Fasteners

As part of our electronic catalog, we identify substitute and alternative units with similar specifications, so distributors can compare prices and availability.

  • Pricing for substitute/alternative items is displayed for comparison.
  • Quantities available are shown to meet immediate sourcing needs.
  • A compare feature allows a side-by-side comparison of substitute items, including price, available quantities, and engineering specifications.

When choosing the best fasteners, distributors evaluate the customer’s applications and preferences. There are occasions when top brands may not have the best overall appearance or characteristics, or there may be a more cost-effective alternative. That’s why we cross-reference various brands so distributors can evaluate procurement options. High-quality structural fasteners are available from various top-brand manufacturers that distributors often overlook because of the time and effort required to research possible alternatives.

Bay Supply has electronically cataloged every product specification since 1962. If you can’t find an item through our online search, please submit a request for quotes (RFQ), and our rapid response team will source products to meet your specifications.

We also maintain a resource library that contains engineering specifications, data sheets, product attributes, tool manuals, instructional videos, manufacturer catalogs, and other supplemental information.

Chapter 7

Bay Supply: The First Fastener Industry Marketplace

Bay Supply is proud to introduce the first buyer’s marketplace for fastener products, where sourcing professionals, manufacturers, and distributors can collaborate, quote, and transact business effortlessly.

Sign up today!

Sourcing Professionals

For sourcing professionals, the marketplace provides a single resource for fasteners, saving the time and trouble of searching dozens of manufacturer websites and catalogs. The marketplace streamlines sourcing and purchasing using automated workflows to collaborate with suppliers. A dynamic RFQ tool makes creating and distributing requests to all relevant suppliers easy. Team dashboards keep track of quotes, orders, back orders, and communications.

Sign up for the marketplace as a sourcing professional.


Fastener Manufacturers

For fastener manufacturers, the marketplace offers a new digital channel to reach authorized distributors while letting the manufacturer retain control of its brand. The digital sourcing platform expands market reach, allowing manufacturers to create and syndicate their digital catalog. The marketplace is also structured to support direct buyer queries and direct them to authorized distributors.

Sign up for the marketplace as a manufacturer.


Fastener Distributors

For fastener distributors, the marketplace can increase company exposure to more than 40,000 sourcing professionals. It provides a new digital sales channel and a simplified means to automate the quote and sales process. Distributors can create seller profiles to enhance discovery by buyers and identify the brands and categories they offer to streamline the submission of RFQs to the team. 

The marketplace also allows distributors to set pricing conditions, minimum order quantities, and back order conditions, and it can suggest substitute items from a distributor’s inventory based on dynamic attribute comparisons.

Sign up for the marketplace as a distributor.

Shop for blind rivets and learn more about the first buyer’s marketplace for fastener products.

>>  Non-Structural Open End Rivets

>>  Multi-Grip Rivets

>>  Closed-End Rivets

>>  Pull-Thru Rivets

>>  Bulbing/Tri-Fold Rivets

>>  Peel Style Rivets

>>  T-Lok Rivets

>>  Monobolt Style Rivets

>>  Magnalok/Interlock Style Rivets

>>  Large Blind Side Structural Rivets

>>  Q-Locking Style Rivets

>>  Metric Extra Length Rivets

>>  Soft Set Rivets

>>  Easy Entry Rivets

>>  Micro-Rivets

>>  Plastic Rivets

>>  Huck-Lok Rivets

>>  Huck Floortight Rivets

>>  Avdel Speed Fastening

>>  Mate Rivets

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