Rivet Size Calculator
This rivet size calculator will help you correctly choose what size of rivets to get and use for your fastening needs. This tool will provide you with blind and pop rivet calculations, so you won't have to do them manually. But if you want to learn how to do it yourself, you've come to the right place. In this calculator, you will learn:
- The basics of rivets and rivet sizes;
- How to size rivets;
- How to use this pop rivet size calculator; and
- The use of pop rivet size charts for drill size determination.
Ready to explore this riveting rivet size guide? Then keep on reading. 😁
🙋 Need a little more robust fastener like nuts and bolts? Perhaps you can find their right size using our thread calculator.
The basics of rivets and rivet sizes
Rivets are fastening hardware we can use to combine two or more layers of materials like sheets of metals, plastics, woods, and even textiles. We can see rivets used in aircraft construction, boat building, aluminum and steel construction, and even in fastening thick fabrics like leather and denim.
However, for a more durable lifetime bond between steel items, maybe it's better to weld them than rivet them together. Check out our welding calculator to learn more about welding.
Rivets come in different forms but usually look like bolts without threads. Instead of using nuts to secure the clamped objects, we deform the end of the rivet shank (or body) to shape like another head larger than the rivet hole. How we deform their shank ends differentiates the types of rivets from each other.
There are rivets that we need to soften their ends by heating so we can quickly pound them to shape. There are also rivets with shank ends that we can deform mechanically by hammering or by pulling an internal mandrel like in blind rivets, as shown in the animation below:
💡 We call them "blind" rivets because we can install them even without seeing the other side of the sheets we need to fasten. We also call this type of rivet "pop" rivets because of the popping sound they make when the internal mandrel breaks off the rivet.
Whichever type of rivets we use, we always want to pick the correct size of rivets so they won't come off our materials. What's even great about using rivets is that we can combine different materials, like an acrylic sheet to aluminum or glass to steel, as long as we choose the right rivet size. In the next section of this rivet size guide, let's discuss how to size rivets.
How to size rivets
We size a rivet in terms of its shank length and diameter, and we base these dimensions on the total thickness of the plates (or sheets) we want to fasten or clamp together and the thickness of the thickest plate. We determine the minimum diameter, which we denote as , by multiplying the thickness of the thickest plate, , by 3, as shown in the equation below:
Let's say our thickest plate measures 1.5 mm in thickness. We multiply it by 3 to get 4.5 mm for our . After that, we choose the closest standard rivet size to our calculated minimum diameter from the table of the standard rivet shank diameters.
Here is a standard rivet size chart we can choose from to find our recommended rivet shank diameter (remember that we should choose a larger size than our calculated minimum diameter):
1 ⅛ (1.12500)
1 ¼ (1.25000)
1 ⅜ (1.37500)
1 ½ (1.50000)
1 ⅝ (1.62500)
From the rivet size chart above, since we calculated 4.5 mm for our , our recommended rivet shank diameter, which we can denote as , should be 4.7625 mm or 3/16".
Then, we multiply our recommended diameter by a multiplier constant, , to find the shank length allowance, , as we can see below:
The shank length allowance is the portion of the rivet shank that gets compressed and shaped to become another affixing closing head. We determine the shank length allowance using the multiplier 's value which depends on the typical application of the rivet listed below.
For button closing heads in general construction:
For button closing heads in pressurized boiler construction:
For countersunk closing heads for lightweight use:
- for any
Finally, we add the shank length allowance, , to the total thickness of the plates, , to determine the rivet shank length . In equation form, we express that as:
The total thickness of plates, , is the sum of all the thicknesses of the plates we need to fasten, including the thickest plate.
Remember to also choose the rivets with the length closest to our calculated rivet shank length. Although choosing much longer rivets would mean we could fit more materials on them, we might not be able to tighten them properly.
🙋 Speaking of best-fitting rivets, it is also important to know the correct hole size for your rivets. Let's briefly cover that in the next section of this rivet size guide.
The use of pop rivet size charts for drill size determination
Like bolts, pins, and other similar fastening hardware, we first need to drill holes before we can install our rivets. Logically, we want to use drill bits of the same size as our rivets (e.g., 1/8" drill bit for 1/8" rivets). But as a rule of thumb, we want our rivets to slide in the holes freely with at most six-thousandths of an inch of diameter allowance.
Here is a table of the minimum and maximum hole diameter for each typical standard rivet size:
Min. hole diameter
Max. hole diameter
✅ If you're working on and riveting aluminum materials, and you're wondering how heavy your final product will be, we have an aluminum weight calculator you can use to estimate that for you.
How to use this pop rivet size calculator
Using our blind or pop rivet size calculator is very easy and straightforward. Nevertheless, you can follow these steps as you go through our tool:
- Choose your preferred rivet head shape for your project. We typically use
buttonhead rivets in general and boiler constructions, while we use
countersunkheads for lightweight use.
- Select the appropriate rivet application if you prefer to use button head rivets.
- Enter the thickness of the thickest plate you need to fasten.
- Input the total thickness of the other plates or your target total clamping thickness.
Upon doing these steps, our pop rivet size calculator will display the minimum and recommended shank diameters and the recommended rivet shank length that will suit your application.
As an added feature, you can use our tool to determine the minimum and maximum hole diameters for your recommended rivet size. Click on the
Advanced mode button below our calculator to activate this feature.
How do I choose the right rivet size?
To choose the right rivet size for your project:
Determine the thickness of the thickest material you wish to fasten. Say
Multiply that thickness by 3 to find the suitable minimum diameter for your materials.
2.0 mm × 3 =
Rivet suppliers would recommend you 6.35 mm (1/4") rivets unless you want custom-sized 6.0 mm rivets.
Measure the total thickness of the materials you need to fasten. Say
Add 1.5 times the recommended diameter to the total thickness to find your rivet's required shank length.
5.0 mm + (1.5 × 6.35 mm) =
How do I calculate rivet diameter?
To calculate the diameter of rivets that will suit your needs:
- List down the thicknesses of the materials you need to combine. Say you need to combine a
5-mm acrylic sheetwith a
2-mm aluminum angle bar.
- Note the thickness of the thickest material. Since the acrylic sheet is thicker than the aluminum angle bar's thickness, we use
- Multiply that largest thickness by 3 to find the minimum diameter of the rivet you can use.
5 mm × 3 =
Can a rivet be too long?
As much as possible, choose a rivet with a shank length equal to the thickness of the material you need to clamp with an allowance of 1.5 times the rivet shank's diameter.
Some rivet suppliers indicate the grip range of their rivets which approximates the range of thickness that a rivet can handle. Find rivets with a grip range that closely matches the total thickness of the material you need to clamp.
What is the grip range of a 3.2×12-mm rivet?
A 3.2×12-mm or 1/8×1/2" rivet has approximately a 7.9-mm grip range.
A 3.2×12 rivet has a diameter of 3.175 mm (or 1/8") and a length of 12.7 mm (or 1/2"). We find the grip range by subtracting 1.5 times the rivet's diameter from its length.
In equation form, that is:
12.7 mm - 1.5 × 3.175 mm = 7.9375
≈ 7.9 mm.