Riveting question

So how do rivets work exactly? From what I’ve seen on TV (okay, mainly from the 3 Stooges working on s skyscraper), I understand that rivets are hot bits of metal and you use a “rivet gun” to put them in. But what does the gun do? Are rivets used much anymore?

From what I rember from mechanical drafting in high school (A sucky school, not like my groovy elementary- see the perfect school thread) a rivet is like a screw without any ridges, or like a nail with a flat end, not a pointy one. It has a head at one end like a nail or a screw, and gets driven into a piece of metal. It impacts against something else, squashing the end so it now has a head on both ends. IIRC, the advantage of this is that it can flex with the metal it is holding together (like moving and flexing from thermal expansion), unlike a weld. It is for this reason that the metal skin on planes are
rivetted (sp?) and not welded. Keep in mind that I’ve never actually rivetted a thing in my entire life, and I am basing this on stuff I learned in a class that I skipped a lot of ten years ago. So, if my answer is way out to lunch, I apologize. Now, if anyone has questions on concrete, that I’ll know, no problem!

There are two basic types of rivets used in aircraft, solid and “pop” or Cherry™ rivets.

The solid rivets are, of course, solid. They look like tiny mushrooms or cones with a stem on the pointy end. They are slipped through a carefully drilled hole and bucked. This is done by holding a pneumatic hammer (rivet gun)on one side and a bucking bar on the other and squeezing the trigger. (A bucking bar is a chunk of steel with at least one flat surface.) They can also be hammered by hand or squeezed. This causes the back to flare out, holding the pieces of metal together.

Cherry™ or pop rivets thin metal tubes with a stem through each rivet. In this case, a rivet gun is a device that pulls the stem, causing the back of the rivet to bulge.
The stem is designed to pop off when the back has bulged enough.

I have never worked with the rivets used in construction, but they seem to be large solid rivets. They are probably still in use.

Rivets don’t flex very well. They tend to shear. The advantage is that they are easy to remove and replace when the metal does flex.