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Squeezing

Bolt Cutters

or,

Rivet Squeezing on a Budget

A test... inspired by some talk on the Gunco forum

 

I originally designed these in March 2004 because at the time I didn't have any money to put toward tons of shop tools, and I wanted to build an AK.  Just one.  The "right" way is to buy a 12-ton shop press, a special jig (or make your own), an air hammer, or chose any other "industrial" rivet solutions to assemble the AK properly, or screw the build together (but this isn't really the correct way to build an AK).  What to do?   Buy $200-$400 worth of tools just to build a $300 gun?

I realized that many many aspiring builders would love to build an AK but are intimidated by the complexity in comparison to something easier, like ARs for example, and set out to open the door for those people.  This is the result of that pursuit.  A low-tech, low-budget solution to rivet AKs that won't break the bank and will give you a "factory finish".

 

Picked up some 24" bolt cutters from a Harbor Freight sidewalk sale - $10 for the cutters.

They normally run around $15.  Part #41149   

 

I used two sets, not counting the one failure.

 

Here are some links to the REAL Hand Rivet Squeezers:

Brown Tool

Tatco Review

USTool

rvproject

 

NOTE:  I did this to my set of cutters, what you do to yours is up to you.  

IF YOU DO THIS TO YOUR CUTTERS, it will void your warranty, blood-thirsty robots will roam the streets, your computer will crash, your bank account will be emptied, and God will kill a kitten.  Think about the kittens.

 

I shaped the jaws with a 5" angle grinder.  

I am trying to imitate the shape of pneumatic alligator rivet squeezers, or the hand-rivet squeezers which use the same yoke:

      

Needs some tweaking, but it got in there and began crushing the rivet...

DSCN3660.JPG (173116 bytes)     DSCN3662.JPG (162888 bytes)

Update!

Well I think it works.  I have just riveted my front trunion rivets with this custom squeezer and I must say I am impressed.  The rivet smashed almost like it was a foam earplug - barely felt it in the handles.  I can't express how excited I am!  For less than $20 and the cost of my shop tools, I have a rivet squeezer that WORKS.  I have only tried the front two rivets, but it WORKS.  At this rate, I could buy another set of jaws and shape them down for each set of rivets.  Tested with the rivets from the recent group buy that 1-Pat put together... which BTW he's putting another one together on the Gunco group buy forum...

Note: This was tested on a BULGARIAN TRUNION... therefore I do not know how these measurements will work on other trunion types... 

Note the angle of impact:

DSCN3663.JPG (155197 bytes)    DSCN3665.JPG (159322 bytes)    DSCN3666.JPG (172130 bytes)    DSCN3667.JPG (175789 bytes)    

My test rivet - partially smashed.  Really chewed up at this point, but I am just fitting it for now.

DSCN3668.JPG (169314 bytes)

 

Squeezing the Rivets

That's 1/4" scrap metal with a concave head dremeled into it to allow the rivet head to seat.  Works like a charm. 

DSCN3675.JPG (166989 bytes)    

This rivet wasn't done too well, but I need only to test the clamping force at this time.  My concern is that the rivet will not be seated deeply enough to allow the barrel to be reinserted... but not any more.  I bit more minor tweaking of the jaw adjustment and it seated BELOW the edge of the notch, so YES there will be a small bit of clearance between the shank of the rivet and the barrel!

DSCN3676.JPG (163870 bytes)    DSCN3677.JPG (165217 bytes)   

Finding that I need to do some final grinding.  I have to get it fit properly to clear the trunion.  I found that the bottom of the jaw creased the inside of the trunion, in the pic, this is directly below the rivet.  So I need to round off the sides of the jaw so that it has a convex shape, and hopefully this will keep it from touching against the trunion:

DSCN3678.JPG (163015 bytes)    DSCN3679.JPG (173770 bytes)    DSCN3680.JPG (179482 bytes)   

Final grinding should be complete.  Started with a new rivet, that other one is toast... yes, there is a scrap piece of sheet steel between the trunion and the head of the rivet - I wanted to get it as close to the real operation as possible... material was scrap from my Ace receiver blank.  

And yes, that's a swell-neck rivet from the recent group buy that 1-Pat organized. ;)  BTW he's currently working on another rivet group buy here

DSCN3681.JPG (176605 bytes)   

 

FINAL TEST...

In position:  DSCN3682.JPG (177478 bytes)

CRUSHING RIVET!

DSCN3683.JPG (177365 bytes)  It went fast and extremely well -  The front rivet is seated TIGHT

 

Examination:

Of interest is the head of the rivet on top, nearest the piece of sheet metal - the bottom is my older rivet that is smashed...

DSCN3684.JPG (174260 bytes)   

On the flip side, the now-squeezed rivet shank in a nice clean little pancake:

DSCN3685.JPG (176403 bytes)    DSCN3686.JPG (175861 bytes)    DSCN3689.JPG (162852 bytes)    DSCN3690.JPG (166787 bytes)

Its hard to see, but I am trying to show the clearance between the barrel section and the rivet shank:

DSCN3688.JPG (182042 bytes)

OK.  Now let's see if I can set those rivets that are farther back on the trunion... yes they will fit!

DSCN3691.JPG (166631 bytes)

Confirmed, the lower rivets are accessible by this clamp design, and even the rear trunion rivets look accessible... so the only unknown factors are the center trunion rivets - the jaw won't fit around the left of the trunion so I may try to grind it down further so as to fit this one. 

If I can make it work, I may try to grind down the other jaw, so that I don't screw up the one jaw that works.  I really need to find if another set of jaws can be purchased separately... if not I'll probably just get another set of cutters when I next visit Harbor Freight.

 

DESIGN FAILURE

I was undecided on which way to approach the second rivets, so I took a guess and chose to go at it from the front, not the top.  The left side of the trunion was my concern because it was so thick.  It now appears that I will need to try from the top...

Started with comparison of the cuts on the first jaw...

DSCN3692.JPG (163220 bytes)    DSCN3693.JPG (167808 bytes)   

Testing the fit of my first attempt...

DSCN3694.JPG (162853 bytes)    DSCN3695.JPG (130863 bytes)    DSCN3696.JPG (147799 bytes)   

I made the jaw itself thinner, so it would be able to handle that section of the trunion better... dremeled the thickness down to 1/4".

DSCN3698.JPG (164663 bytes)    DSCN3699.JPG (156302 bytes)  

 

Ready to test...  

DSCN3700.JPG (170149 bytes)    DSCN3701.JPG (170074 bytes)

OOPS!  When it snapped, it sounded like a good-sided tree limb was broken. 

DSCN3702.JPG (165596 bytes)    DSCN3703.JPG (160448 bytes)   

Looks like it got about halfway there...  DSCN3704.JPG (157891 bytes)    DSCN3705.JPG (145507 bytes)   

OK.  So this is how I am going to try this next time - from the top of the trunion, and I won't take out the extra material closer to the handles, because it seems I won't need to worry with the clearance this way.  Anyhow, its good to know my limits. 

DSCN3706.JPG (162263 bytes)

Now off to HF for another set of cutters ;)

 

TESTING REDESIGNED CUTTER

 

Got the new cutters.  Actually, got two sets...

 

Success!  I didn't take this pic until after I was finished, so don't be confused by the left-side rivet:

DSCN3719.JPG (156882 bytes)    DSCN3720.JPG (159730 bytes)

The rivet squeezed with moderate effort.  I was more careful here since there was more trunion material around this one.

 

Preparing to test for the left rear rivet:

DSCN3713.JPG (170676 bytes)

Success! 

DSCN3714.JPG (155585 bytes)

 

 

That's it, all front trunion rivets are possible with my reshaped cutters!

 

 

In summary, all of the front trunion rivets are accessible by these modifications, and I spent a total of $20-30 for the cutters.  I already had the shop tools and grinder.  So in comparison to purchasing a set of true hand rivet squeezers which normally run around $130, I saved $100.  And had a good time too.  I don't see any glaring safety concerns with this approach, but YMMV.