How to Install Nut Rivets in Six Easy Steps

A Champion Parts customer shares how he neatly mounted a bike rack on his van.
nut rivet installation

(Taken from this post by Champion Parts. Republished with permission. Edited for point of view and relevance.)

“What can I use to mount something on a thin substrate such as sheet metal, fibreglass, or plastic?”  

Champion Parts received a call from a customer who wanted to mount a bike rack on the back of his van. 

They suggested that a nut insert (or nutsert) would do the job. After trying it, he found that a nut insert was a great option, as it gave a professional-looking and sturdy threaded mounting point. 

Here’s how he did it. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Drill and drill bit* 
  • Rivet gun and stem* 
  • Nut inserts
  • Bolts* 

*Must come in appropriate compatible sizes

install nut rivet


  1. Mark holes where the rack mount will be attached on the metal panel, as shown in Fig. 1. 
  2. Drill a hole to the correct size hole, so the nut insert will fit snugly. 
  3. With a nut rivet gun: Fit the stem, fully open the gun arms and screw the insert on the stem until it protrudes a little, as shown in Fig. 2 (above).
  4. Push the nut insert into the hole firmly and squeeze the gun arms together until they stop, as shown in Fig. 3. 
  5. Turn the knob on the back of the gun counterclockwise to remove the stem from the nut insert. The nut insert should be attached to the metal sheet, as shown in Fig. 4. 
  6. Repeat the steps until all holes are fitted with nut inserts, where you can affix the bolts of the rack, as shown in Figs. 5 and 6.

Tips and tricks

  • Adjust the sheath on the gun to only crush the rivet enough to grip and not damage the substrate. 
  • Ensure that the grip range on the nut insert is appropriate for the thickness of the substrate you are working with.  
  • Keep in mind that nut inserts come in different materials (eg. alloy, steel, stainless steel etc.) and sizes, with long and short grip ranges.


AIMS' Note on Safe Use of Hand Tools

  • Inspection: Before using any tool, carefully inspect it for cracks, chips, loose handles, worn / mushroomed heads or any other signs of damage. Damaged or defective tools may cause harm! Ensure all guards are in place.
  • Right tool for the job: Make sure you understand the intended purpose of each tool and choose the correct one for your specific job. Don't try to make a screwdriver work as a pry bar or a wrench as a hammer.
  • Safe handling: Carry sharp tools pointed down and away from your body. Never carry tools in your pockets where they can cause injury. When passing a tool to someone, extend the handle first.
  • PPE: Wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris. Consider gloves depending on the tool and task to prevent cuts or blisters but without compromising comfort, dexterity and protection. If working with noisy tools, wear ear protection.
  • Maintenance: Keep your tools clean, sharp and properly maintained. Store them in a safe and organised place when not in use.

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