Super Cheap RV Cabinet Door Repair – POP Goes the Rivet!

TheRVgeeks Repair 17 Comments

Way back when we started making videos, nearly 6 years ago, we used pop rivets to help friends install a central vacuum in their rig. Now we’re sharing one reason we keep a pop riveter around for repairs, too.

Full-timing limits the amount of space we have on board for just about everything. That includes tools. But our pop riveter has come in handy so many times, we’d never give it up. And of course we keep an assortment of various size aluminum rivets on hand. Some of our favorite DIY projects involve a fairly specialized tool saving the day in some unexpected way.

That said, certain repairs are to be expected, even before they happen. For example, we know that the cords in our day-night shades are bound to break sooner or later. So we try to keep a supply of replacement cord on hand. It’s just a known point of failure.

The same thing is true when it comes to overhead cabinets. It’s only a matter of time before opening a cabinet results in that tell-tale BANG, followed by a limp door. The rivets in the struts that hold those doors up are another known failure point, so we keep a special supply of rivets on board just for that purpose: 1/2″ long x 1/8″ diameter stainless steel, which is super strong.

These particular rivets suffer from metal fatigue over time, especially with full-time use. It’s inevitable that certain cabinets are used more often than others, and we’d guess that some of our most popular nooks and crannies are opened and closed a dozen or more times in a day. Tick tock, tick tock. Which time will we open one of those popular cabinets and be startled by the BANG!?

Now before you go reading the fine print on the box of stainless steel rivets we showed in the video (the part that says they’re “not for use with manually operated rivet tools”… damn HiDef!), please save your criticisms for a more egregious error. They work just fine.

When we first started using a pop riveter, we either failed to notice that note on the stainless steel packaging, or it wasn’t there back then. Either way, we’ve been successfully using them with our manual riveter for years with no problem. We’re guessing that the note is simply due to the additional hand strength required for spreading stainless steel compared to standard aluminum rivets. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and we’ve continued to happily use them without a problem. But you should of course feel free to follow the official instructions if you prefer. wink

Besides, stainless steel is only required for very high-stress situations, like the regular opening and closing of RV cabinets, which puts a lot of metal-to-metal stress on the struts, slowly cutting through aluminum rivets over time. The vast majority of other uses for pop rivets will only require aluminum.

We’ve included links below for the rivet gun and rivets we use for cabinet repair, along with an assortment of standard aluminum rivets. Thanks for supporting our videos by using our Amazon Links!


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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Comments 17

  1. I was thinking this might be an option for mounting a 11lb 32″ TV to the outer wall of my RV using a TV mount designed for RVs. Do you think rivets would manage the weight?

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      Whether using pop rivets or some other attachment mechanism, we’d be concerned about the ability of typical RV walls to handle something that size and weight, especially considering the vibration during driving. If you could find a stud in the wall, we’d suggest that that would be the best-case scenario, and then you could screw into it.

  2. Are you going to be appearing at another function similar to your Quartzsite visit? I am interested in starting to RV, but am overwhelmed with where to begin the process. I am leaning toward a B+ size such as an LTV Unity. I would be interested if you could offer some direction to people whom have been motivated by your videos with where to start in order to minimize mistakes. Thank You!!!

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      Hi Brian! We’re not planning any more appearances this year, but we do have a great lead for you. Our fellow full-time friends Brandon & Kerensa at DriverDiveDevour.com have a course to help people get started RVing. There are more details at http://www.rvtofreedom.com where they’re accepting applications for a free beta version of the course. You should apply, and tell them The RVgeeks sent you! Please let know how you make out.

      1. Thank you RVGeeks!!! It looks like a great resource. Sorry to hear you will not be appearing at another function this year. I hope you make it to the New York Metro area one day to meet your east coast fans. Warmest Regards.

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          Please do let us know how that works out as a resource. We told Kerensa and Brandon to expect to hear from you. :) We will actually be appearing in the NY Metro area about a month from now… at a wedding! LOL Seriously, I (Peter) worked in Manhattan for nearly 10 years. Are you in the city?

          1. Thank you for directing me to Kerensa and Brandon. I enjoyed watching your video on new vs used RV purchasing and reading people’s comments. I am a school teacher on Long Island and am looking forward to just starting out RVing. Enjoy your trip back east for the wedding. Warmest Regards, Brian.

  3. If you ever have to temp repair something and the hole is elongated, you can add a washer to one or both sides of the rivet. Just be sure your rivet is long enough for the additional thickness. It is important that the washer is flat against the repair during the squeezing of the rivet. I keep 1/8 and 3/16 washers around just for such things. If you have a 1/8 inch hole that is elongated, you may have enough material to enlarge the hole to 3/16 and use a bigger rivet.

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  4. I liked your video. It’s the first pop rivet demo that shows how the gun pulls to expand the rivet.

    But my biggest smiles came from the comments (especially on your YouTube channel) about the contents of your cupboard.
    It’s obvious that some people are much more interested in very different details.

    Speaking of which, are you going to make a video using the 7 year old quinoa?

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      Hi John! We talked about what we had showing in that cabinet, and somehow knew that there would be funny comments no matter what. LOL Just for the record… that’s a brand new, unopened bag of quinoa that doesn’t expire until 2019. And you wouldn’t want any recipe that we have to offer. Cooking is definitely not our strong suit!

  5. Primo kidney beans are the best….try to locate chefmate chili with no beans..available at Smart and Final. Primo beans bring the chili to life!!!

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