Rivet Nut Troubleshooting Lab

What is a Rivet Nut?

Rivet nuts are fundamentally an innovative captive nut that attaches onto a steel sheet surface for bolting purposes, they are ideal when a hole opening isn't possible because the material is too thin to secure a bolt. Also known as rivnut, nut inserts, or nutserts, either way they are great for punched or drilled holes, they can be installed at any stage of the production, even after paint is applied. They are an easy solution that requires a rivet nut tool (here at Aerobolt we call them nutsert tools). 

Rivet Nut Installation Issues.

Installing rivet nuts can sometimes not be as straightforward as we would like, so we have created a troubleshooting page to address the most common installation issues. The pictures below show the difference between an incorrectly installed rivet nut (pictures 1 & 2) and a correctly installed rivet nut (picture 3). 

1. Inadequate bulge.

The rivet nut is not gripping the material correctly, causing the rivet nut to spin whilst installing the bolt. In this instance, remove the nutsert and check the stroke on the tool before attempting to install another.

2. Over-stroked bulge.

This can cause the parent material to buckle, or cause the rivet nut to tilt on one side and/or lose the internal thread, resulting in an uneven thread and resistance to the bolt being threaded through.

3. Correct bulge.

When installed correctly, there is no tilting and the rivet nut is well balanced between gripping the material and allowing a bolt to be threaded through with no resistance. 

Inadequate bulge
Over-stroked bulge
Correct bulge

Other Rivet Nut installation issues:

Stripped thread: this is most probably caused by too much stroke or tension, or due to the tool mandrel being bent/damaged.

Tilting Rivet Nut: The quality of the rivet nut may be questionable, the tool mandrel is bent or the anvil size may not be correct. 

Scratched head: Check you have the correct size anvil on the tool.

How do you install a rivet nut?

Installing Rivet nuts is easy.   

  • Step 1. Thread the rivet nut onto the mandrel of the tool, some tools spin themselves to load the rivet nut.  
  • Step 2. Place the rivet nut into the pre-drilled hole & activate tool to begin swaging process. Tool’s mandrel will pull up rivet nut causing body to collapse & bulge out 360°. 
  • Step 3. The rivet nut has now bulged & created a lip on the blind side of the material and has firmly interlocked itself onto the material.   
  • Step 4. Rivet nut tool will either automatically or manually reverse out of the rivet nut.

What's the difference between rivet nut, rivnut & nutserts?  

Nutserts, Rivnuts, Rivet Nuts, Nut Inserts etc. are some of the different labels for fundamentally the same product. The generic label is "rivet nuts" and the other names or labels relate to different company brands and trademarks of the same product, some of these labels have become the default product name.   

What are the benefits of rivet nuts? 

Rivet nuts provide a quick, reliable, and low-cost system of inserting a thread in thin steel sheeting or tubular material. 

Key Rivet Nut Benefits.

  • One side assembly for fast installations as access to the rear is not required.
  • Highly resilient, forming a permanent superior thread for the attachment of a bolt/screw.
  • Easy installations with minimal training. Rivet nut tools are robust & readily available.   
  • Can be used to assemble two or more materials, like a rivet.
  • Installs into galvanised or pre-painted material without damaging surface.
  • Using rivet nuts is safer than welding with no harmful vapours, heat or dust. 
  • Installs into a wide range of material gauges due to its high grip range tolerance.

What are the different type of rivet nuts? 

There are 2 main options. 

Round Body Rivet Nuts.

Round body rivet nuts are the most popular option, especially the knurled body rivet nuts (Nutsert "xtralok") due to their great resistance to spinning whilst being installed and vibration after installation. They have a low-profile wide flange head with the option of open or closed end in steel, stainless (304 & 316 grade) and aluminium. 

There are a couple of other round body options, including the smooth body rivnuts, and the slotted or split body Plus Nuts or Jack Nuts. The slotted body rivet nuts are ideal for lightweight material like plastics, fiberglass, and composites.  

Hexagon Shape Rivet Nuts.

Hexagon shaped rivet nuts are designed for use in punched hex shape holes and provide exceptional resistance to spinning (i.e. they cannot be unscrewed). Here at Aerobolt we have two options, and this includes (1) Half Hex (half hex & half round body) and (2) Full Hex shape for extra strength (predominantly hex shape body). We also have open or closed end hex rivet nuts in steel or stainless. 


After you have selected the correct rivet nut to suit your application, you will need to consider tools. There are 3 main options that include air, cordless or manual. 

Air rivet nut tools: For frequent rivet nut installation, pneumatic (air-powered) is the easy choice. Air rivet nut tools offer fast installations with consistent results. Some of the pros include: Easy to use—the tool spins the mandrel to thread the rivet nut, then retracts to collapse the body of the rivet nut with little physical exertion required. The tool will pull to either a set pressure or a set stroke. Cons: Require an air source such as a compressor, possibly limiting mobility and making remote use impractical.

Manual rivet nut tools: For the occasional installation of rivet nuts, manual tools are your most cost-effective option. They work by adding the rivet nut to the end of the tool, squeezing/torquing, and retracting the tool from the now applied rivet nut. Some of the pros include: Inexpensive, easy concept, great for the handy person. Cons: They require physical force to use.

Cordless battery rivet nut tools: Cordless rivet nut tools run on battery power and provide incredible versatility, hence allowing you to install rivet nuts from practically anywhere. Like pneumatic tools, battery-powered tools are basically point-and-shoot. Pros: Mobility, speed. Cons: Batteries have limited charge before needing to be plugged in again, cost.


Rivet nuts have 1001 uses which make them suitable for various applications such as; automotive manufacturing, aviation, balustrades, commercial kitchens, commercial furniture & fit-outs, electrical appliances & switchboards, Emergency vehicles,  Farming equipment, HVAC (Heating, ventilation & air conditioning), medical equipment, military equipment & vehicles, Playground equipment, sheet metal fabrication, solar installations, refrigeration,  RV Vehicles, Trucks & Trailers, Ute canopy bodies, Utility vehicles and so much more.  

Copyright © 2024 Aerobolt Australia Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.