Few airplanes are built that have no sheet metal parts, no matter what their primary construction material. That means that most homebuilders will have to deal with rivets at some point. And if you have to deal with rivets, you will—sooner or later—have to remove some. While flush-head rivets are easily removed using a center punch to start the drill in the right spot, getting started in the center of a round-head (AN470) rivet can present a greater challenge. Technique and experience count a lot in getting the factory head to come off clean, and many builders are frustrated along the way with off-center holes that require up-drilling holes to the next bigger rivet size.
Loyd’s Rivet Drill Guide is a kit that will greatly accelerate the learning process and reduce the frustration. The nicely packaged kit contains a set of cylindrical guides for 3/32-, 1/8-, 5/32-, 3/16-, and 1/4-inch rivets, matching drill bits to go with the guides, Boelube lubricant to keep the bit from galling in the guide, and a rugged case to hold all of the parts together. The kits are produced by the Loyd family in Ferris, Texas and are available from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty and Aircraft Tool Supply.
The kit is packaged in a rugged case with five cylindrical guides, matching drill bits for each guide, and Boelube lubricant to keep the bits from galling in the guides.
We tested the kit in our own shop after watching the video on the company web site and found it to be virtually foolproof. It worked well on AN470-3 and -4 rivets that we had handy, as well as on some 1/8-inch Cherry rivets set in another project. In fact, the only danger we found with this tool is that no rivet is safe—we almost started to take apart an innocent toolbox simply because it had some rivets showing that looked like tempting targets.
The guides are easy to use—select the appropriate size cylinder and chuck the matching drill into your tool. The guide has a depression machined into the bottom face that fits snugly over the rivet, perfectly centering the drill on the head. Lubricate the drill with a dab of Boelube, hold the guide flush to the surface with one hand, and drill with the other—you’ll be through the factory head in no time.
Our preferred method of rivet removal is to drill just deep enough to remove the factory head, then to pop the remaining tail from the hole. Others prefer to drill all the way through. Regardless of what works best for you, this tool will get you centered and straight on the rivet head every time.
Each guide has a depression machined into the bottom face that fits snugly over the rivet, perfectly centering the drill bit on the head.
An instructional video is available on the company web site at www.rivetdrillguide.com. The complete set retails for $129.95 and will be a welcome addition to any shop that has the need to remove round-head rivets.