Sheets of metal must be fastened together to form the aircraft structure, and this is usually done with solid aluminum alloy rivets. A rivet is a metal pin with a formed head on one end when the rivet is manufactured. The shank of the rivet is inserted into a drilled hole, and its shank is then upset (deformed) by a hand or pneumatic tool. The second head, formed either by hand or by pneumatic equipment, is called a “shop head." The shop head functions in the same manner as a nut on a bolt. In addition to their use for joining aircraft skin sections, rivets are also used for joining spar sections, for holding rib sections in place, for securing fittings to various parts of the aircraft, and for fastening innumerable bracing members and other parts together. The rivet creates a bond that is at least as strong as the material being joined.
Two of the major types of rivets used in aircraft are the common solid shank type, which must be driven using a bucking bar, and the special (blind) rivets, which may be installed where it is impossible to use a bucking bar.
Aircraft rivets are not hardware store rivets. Rivets purchased at a hardware store should never be used as a substitute for aircraft quality rivets. The rivets may be made from very different materials, the strength of the rivets differs greatly, and their shear strength qualities are very different. The countersunk heads on hardware store rivets are 78°, whereas countersunk aircraft rivets have 100° angle heads for more surface contact to hold it in place.
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