A revolutionary fastener, the blind rivet is so named because it can be installed when you don’t have access to—or can’t see—the back side of the item being riveted. Prior to the invention of the blind rivet, the use of solid rivets and bolts meant that you needed access to both sides of a project in order to use a rivet hammer on one side and a bucking bar on the other. This complicated process made countless projects with a “blind” side impossible to complete.
Comprised of a rivet and an integrated mandrel, blind rivets are installed in a tight hole that passes through whatever material you’re riveting. A riveter is then used to pull the mandrel back while holding the rivet in place. As the mandrel is pulled back, it deforms the rivet by pushing the sides outward until the mandrel snaps. This is what forms the expanded back side of the rivet, ultimately holding the materials together.
Blind rivets are usually categorized by the material of the rivet and then the material of the mandrel. For example, you might see “aluminum/steel”, which means an aluminum rivet with a steel mandrel. These fasteners typically come in steel, stainless steel, nickel-copper alloy, and other grades of aluminum. When looking for blind rivets, we recommend always trying to match the rivet and mandrel materials to avoid corrosion and weakening in the rivet (e.g., stainless steel/stainless steel construction).
There are countless categories of blind rivets. A few of the most common are:
Standard: The most common and the least expensive, these blind rivets are not watertight and aren’t as strong as other types of fasteners.
Sealed: Similar to standard rivets, the mandrel on this rivet is completely enclosed, making it watertight.
Multi-grip: These rivets are designed for when you don’t know how long the rivet needs to be. They’re more expensive than standard ones, but can be useful in situations where excess rivet length hanging off the back could interfere with moving parts.
Blind rivets also can have three different types of heads—round, flat, and oversized—for complete customization, no matter what type of project you’re working on.