There are two types of rivets used in these tools, solid and hollow. The hollow rivets have a hole all the way through the center, even through the head of the rivet. The solid rivets aren't entirely solid; they have a short hollow section at the end for rolling, but the head and most of the shaft are solid metal. In either case, the brake riveting tool rolls the end and expands the rivet body to hold the brake and lining together.
Choosing the correct length of rivet is important. It needs to go through the brake and lining, obviously, but not too much. If there's too much metal above the brake, it will result in a double roll, which you can see if you look closely at a too-long rivet done wrong. If this happens, it won't hold the lining tight.
For most people, taking riveted brakes to a shop to have the linings replaced is the simplest and safest answer. But for small jobs on vintage vehicles, these basics will get your brakes mated to their linings and your car back on the road.
For more information about brake riveting tools and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.