Rivet Size Calculator

Created by Kenneth Alambra
Reviewed by Steven Wooding
Last updated: Aug 24, 2022

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:

Cross-sectional view animation of engaging a blind rivet to join two layers of sheets together.
By Heedless – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia

💡 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 DminD_\text{min}, by multiplying the thickness of the thickest plate, tmaxt_\text{max}, by 3, as shown in the equation below:

Dmin=tmax×3D_\text{min} = t_\text{max}\times 3

Let's say our thickest plate measures 1.5 mm in thickness. We multiply it by 3 to get 4.5 mm for our DminD_\text{min}. 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):

inches

millimeters

1/16 (0.06250)

1.58750

3/32 (0.09375)

2.38125

1/8 (0.12500)

3.17500

5/32 (0.15625)

3.968750

3/16 (0.18750)

4.76250

7/32 (0.21875)

5.55625

1/4 (0.25000)

6.35000

9/32 (0.28125)

7.14375

5/16 (0.31250)

7.93750

11/32 (0.34375)

8.73125

3/8 (0.37500)

9.52500

13/32 (0.40625)

10.31875

1/2 (0.50000)

12.70000

5/8 (0.62500)

15.87500

7/8 (0.87500)

22.22500

1 (1.00000)

25.40000

1 ⅛ (1.12500)

28.57500

1 ¼ (1.25000)

31.75000

1 ⅜ (1.37500)

34.92500

1 ½ (1.50000)

38.10000

1 ⅝ (1.62500)

41.27500

From the rivet size chart above, since we calculated 4.5 mm for our DminD_\text{min}, our recommended rivet shank diameter, which we can denote as DD, should be 4.7625 mm or 3/16".

Then, we multiply our recommended diameter by a multiplier constant, cc, to find the shank length allowance, AA, as we can see below:

A=D×cA = D\times c

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 cc's value which depends on the typical application of the rivet listed below.

For button closing heads in general construction:

  • c=1.5c = 1.5 for D20 mmD \leq 20\ \text{mm}
  • c=1.6c = 1.6 for D>20 mmD > 20\ \text{mm}

For button closing heads in pressurized boiler construction:

  • c=1.7c = 1.7 for D20 mmD \leq 20\ \text{mm}
  • c=1.8c = 1.8 for D>20 mmD > 20\ \text{mm}

For countersunk closing heads for lightweight use:

  • c=0.5c = 0.5 for any DD

Finally, we add the shank length allowance, AA, to the total thickness of the plates, SS, to determine the rivet shank length LL. In equation form, we express that as:

L=S+AL = S + A

The total thickness of plates, SS, 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:

Rivet size

Min. hole diameter

Max. hole diameter

in.

mm

in.

mm

1/16

0.06250

1.58750

0.06850

1.73990

3/32

0.09375

2.38125

0.09975

2.53365

1/8

0.12500

3.17500

0.13100

3.32740

5/32

0.15625

3.96875

0.16225

4.12115

3/16

0.18750

4.76250

0.19350

4.91490

7/32

0.21875

5.55625

0.22475

5.70865

1/4

0.25000

6.35000

0.25600

6.50240

9/32

0.28125

7.14375

0.28725

7.29615

5/16

0.31250

7.93750

0.31850

8.08990

11/32

0.34375

8.73125

0.34975

8.88365

3/8

0.37500

9.52500

0.38100

9.67740

13/32

0.40625

10.31875

0.41225

10.47115

1/2

0.50000

12.70000

0.50600

12.85240

5/8

0.62500

15.87500

0.63100

16.02740

3/4

0.75000

19.05000

0.75600

19.20240

7/8

0.87500

22.22500

0.88100

22.37740

1

1.00000

25.40000

1.00600

25.55240

1 1/8

1.12500

28.57500

1.13100

28.72740

1 1/4

1.25000

31.75000

1.25600

31.90240

1 3/8

1.37500

34.92500

1.38100

35.07740

1 1/2

1.50000

38.10000

1.50600

38.25240

1 5/8

1.62500

41.27500

1.63100

41.42740

✅ 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:

  1. Choose your preferred rivet head shape for your project. We typically use button head rivets in general and boiler constructions, while we use countersunk heads for lightweight use.
  2. Select the appropriate rivet application if you prefer to use button head rivets.
  3. Enter the thickness of the thickest plate you need to fasten.
  4. 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.

FAQ

How do I choose the right rivet size?

To choose the right rivet size for your project:

  1. Determine the thickness of the thickest material you wish to fasten. Say 2.0 mm.

  2. Multiply that thickness by 3 to find the suitable minimum diameter for your materials.

    2.0 mm × 3 =6.0 mm.

    Rivet suppliers would recommend you 6.35 mm (1/4") rivets unless you want custom-sized 6.0 mm rivets.

  3. Measure the total thickness of the materials you need to fasten. Say 5.0 mm.

  4. 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) =14.525 mm

How do I calculate rivet diameter?

To calculate the diameter of rivets that will suit your needs:

  1. List down the thicknesses of the materials you need to combine. Say you need to combine a 5-mm acrylic sheet with a 2-mm aluminum angle bar.
  2. Note the thickness of the thickest material. Since the acrylic sheet is thicker than the aluminum angle bar's thickness, we use 5 mm.
  3. Multiply that largest thickness by 3 to find the minimum diameter of the rivet you can use. 5 mm × 3 =15 mm.

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.

Kenneth Alambra
Inputs and options
Rivet head shape
Button (specific applications)
Application
General construction
Thickness of the thickest plate
in
Total thickness of the other plates
in
Total clamping thickness
in
Results
Minimum shank diameter
in
Recommended shank diameter
in
Allowance for closing head
in
Rivet shank length
in
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