Review of riveting jig kit from AK-Builder.com

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Netpackrat
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Review of riveting jig kit from AK-Builder.com

Post by Netpackrat » Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:56 pm

http://ak-builder.com/index.php?dispatc ... t_id=29972


Decided to up my AK building game a bit, and bought the uber riveting jig kit from Curtis at AK-Builder.com. Previously I had been using my aircraft air rivet gun (hammer) for most of the rivets, but there's a big element of perishable skill involved in doing it that way. When I started building them, I was doing aircraft sheet metal work on a fairly regular basis, and those skills transferred reasonably well to doing the steel rivets on AKs. But lately the only time I seem to do any riveting is on the relatively infrequent occasions when I put together an AK, and to be honest, my riveting has been getting worse and not better, and I'd had to re-do more of them than I liked. This was while my overall build quality and complexity has been increasing. Was not happy with this, so I could either put a lot of time which I don't really want to spend into generating scrap material and getting those skills back up, or spend a few bucks on a better solution.



The tool arrived yesterday and I got to work with it some last night... It's worth every penny I had to pay for it and I wish I had bought it sooner. You can still screw up a rivet with it, but you're not going to do so catastrophically in a split second like you can do with a hammer (whether air or manual). I riveted the receiver of one rifle, and most of another (one for me, one for one of the kids). I had to re-do one rivet (there is a learning curve with any tool), but overall I am extremely happy with the results obtained.


Pros:


-Will do pretty much all rivets except for trigger guard, which requires a different tool which I already had.

-Will dimple the receiver against the trunnions in those locations where it is required.

-It's still possible to mess up a rivet, but unlikely to damage a receiver as can happen with a hammer.

-Super high level of fit, finish, strength, and overall completeness. You don't have to buy a bunch of extra attachments; they are included.

-Leverages your existing hydraulic press for power, so adds less "stuff" to your shop setup.


Cons:


-Requires hydraulic press. Realistically if you are building AKs, you will probably have one anyway.

-Not designed for use with the generic industrial steel rivets I have been using. This is a bummer, because they are relatively inexpensive to buy in quantity, although I was about out of them anyway.

-Designed for use with the rivets that AK Builder sells. These are pretty expensive for what you are getting, and he doesn't list them in quantity on his site; you have to buy them in per-rifle kits. So if you mess one up, you have to break into another kit. On the plus side, the rivets are high quality and the heads are closer in appearance to original AK rivets than what I have been using.

-No instructions included. The only documentation in the box was a chart showing nomenclature of all the pieces, but I had to go to their website to find the instructions. The instructions were adequate if you have built AKs before, but were otherwise not as complete as they could have been.

-It's kind of expensive and the shipping to AK was stupid expensive for an item that would have easily fit into a USPS flat rate box.


This is the third fixture set that I have bought from AK-Builder. The first was their barrel press set, which has also been awesome, and the second was the trigger guard rivet jig, which is adequate. That is no criticism of the tool itself, but rather the trigger guard rivets on an AK are a royal PITA, and no tool is ever going to make them easy. I had previously bought another brand of jig for this task, which I had to modify to get any sort of decent results from, and which I was still not at all happy with. So I bought the one from Curtis, which is better in every way, shape, and form. Dunno if it was worth doing on its own to replace the mostly functional tool I already had, but it's moot now, since the old one wouldn't work with the rivets I have to use now with the new jig.


Overall I would buy each of these items again and wish I had done so sooner. I keep thinking that I am done with building AKs, but then I get an idea to do another build, or decide I want something different in a rifle. And in general it's been easier for the most part to build a new one to fit my current wishes, than to modify one of my older builds. So even after the current crop is done, there will probably be others to use the tooling on in the future.
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