How to Remove a Spinning Rivet – A Step-by-Step Guide

The DIY culture demands that you be able to handle at least the smallest of repair or maintenance problems.

One of these small problems is dealing with loose rivets. Sooner or later, you are bound to encounter this problem if you have objects in your house that are fastened with rivets.

You can of course try to drill out the loose rivets, but the problem is that they spin when you do so, which means drilling them out doesn’t work.

How do you do it then?

We have two good methods you can work with.

Method One

In this method, the tools you need for the job are: a slotted or flathead screwdriver, a drill, and a drill bit.

Start by fitting the screwdriver’s slotted head behind the head of the rivet.

Leverage the screwdriver in a bid to exert pressure against the rivet’s flange. The idea behind this is to ensure the rivet does not spin.

Next, put the drill to work: slowly screwing through the rivet.

After a while, you will have worked through the rivet and in this way drilled it out.

It’s a good method because the only extra tool you require for the job is a flathead screwdriver. That’s a tool you can readily find in most homes or job sites.

The main disadvantage of the method is that you will need something to leverage the screwdriver against. If you cannot leverage the screwdriver, you won’t be able to create the pressure required to hold the loose rivet in place for the drilling out operation.

The other problem is that you will need to have one hand on your screwdriver and the other on the drill – this makes the whole thing a little bit tricky.

Furthermore, should the rivet spins, your screwdriver will slip and scratch the surface material. This is highly likely, particularly if you are not that experienced with these kinds of feats of DIY dexterity.

To mitigate against this, you may cover surface of the screwdriver’s head with duct tape. However, as you will see, if you are going to use duct tape, you might as well try method 2 instead.

As you can see, this method 1 has a few complications. If that doesn’t work or if you prefer a simpler technique, we recommend method 2.

Method Two

The second method is to take some duct tape (or painters tape, if you don’t have duct tape) and apply it over the rivet to hold it in place. Duct tape works much better than painters tape, holds down the rivet more firmly.

Make sure as you are applying the duct tape to the rivet that you press down on it so as to ensure a sturdy bond.

Since the duct tape is holding the rivet in place, you can then drill the rivet out without much trouble.

The beautiful thing about this method is that, unlike the first one, it at least ensures that you can have both of your hands free for the task at hand: which is to drill that pesky rivet out.

The other advantage method 2 has over method 1 is that you do not need to have a leverage point. Furthermore, you don’t need any extra tool. All you need is some duct tape, and that makes this method highly accessible to everyone.

We do have a caveat. If you are going to use duct tape, it’s important that you consider the material you are working on. Is it the kind that would be damaged by duct tape? If that be the case, then you should probably go with method 1 instead.


A spinning rivet is frustrating and you probably found this article after having struggled with this problem on your own. Fortunately, there are easy solutions to the problem. All you need is a drill and a flathead screwdriver, or a drill and some duct tape.

The screwdriver method has several complications, such as having to hold the screwdriver with one hand while you do the drilling with the other. The duct tape method is much easier and is what we would recommend.


I am Samantha, an automobile engineer and POD business owner. I am also a wife of Jason and a mother of three children, two of whom are twins. I am passionate about making a difference in the world and strive to be a role model for my children. I believe that hard work and dedication can lead to success, no matter what your circumstances may be. I have a passion for cars and enjoy working on them in my spare time. I am excited to be able to share my knowledge and experience with you. Stay connected !

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