Removing rivets

I have an Old Town Vapor angler kayak and want to relocate the installed anchor trolley to the other side of the kayak. The trolley is installed with what look like rivets.

What is the best way to remove the rivets from the pad eyes and other hardware without damaging the boat & hardware.


rivet rivet rivet rivet rivet

ID the rivet, measure then find the rivet in Carr’s catalog…tap the rivet listing then tap


Buy 2 drill bits that size and wahtver else needed….

And a pick. A sharp pick holding the rivet rim down when drilling.

Drill down thru flange to shaft n flange will come off.

Use a steel rule n strong light when measuring. Measure 3-4 times n repeat at different times over a coupla days see how you’re doing.

Experience measuring gives different results from those not experienced at measuring. If you as a general rule hahahhaha doah measure you will be socked at how fine experience goes too

Is why we all have digital verniers so we doahn look ridiculous….mostly.

Summit Racing sells verniers and rivet gun packages. Carr sells super marine SS rivets.

removing pop rivets
I have removed a whole bunch of pop rivets. I use a standard jobbers drill bit that is almost as wide in diameter as the rivet head. Center the bit on the stem in the rivet and the bit will drill the head off the rivet leaving the stem.

It is usually possible to just push the remainder of the rivet out the other side using a drift or punch of appropriate size. I have only rarely found it necessary to drill out the rivet stem. If you do, use a small bit of lesser diameter than the rivet stem.

I think what DK is trying to say
is the drill bit must be the size of the rivet shaft, not the larger flange that you see on the surface. You can measure the flange on your boat and look at the hdw store to get a rough idea of the size. If in doubt start with a smaller bit and work up.

If you can get to the inside it’ll give a better idea of the size and clamping a vice grip on the rivet will reduce spinning.

Likewise put silicone sealant and a washer on the inside of new rivets if you can. You can seal the old holes with silicone and best to put a rivet/washer thru the wet silicone.

Good luck


Drilling Them Out
As Pete said, easy to drill them out. Easy to re-rivet with one of these:

I’m not crazy about the rivets at Home Depot and Lowes, so I buy mine online. Last rivets I bought came from this place:

Used them to re-rivet canoe gunwales.

Good luck!

Thanks all
Will give it a try.

1/8, 3/16, 1/4
Those are the popular rivet sizes. 1/8" are tiny. 1/4" are really big. I’ve never seen either used on a canoe or kayak but there’s a lot that I haven’t see so I don’t doubt there are some out there. That leaves 3/16" which is by far the most common size. A 3/16" drill bit will remove them nicely without enlarging the hole or damaging the boat.


the bit is as large as the flange then how hold the flange steady ?

Blanc’s technique used on steel structures is bear down holding flange steady then the drilling tears flange off…most of the time. On flexible structures ?

a wee wider than shaft …check the charts.

not drilling structural material is points.

there are aluminum spec’d drill bits for drilling rivets check Carr.

measure the stock rivet n make judgement on where to go from there…

commercial gunwale rivets are pressed in with an air gun. Wenonah’s are substantial.