A good guitar case helps protect your instrument from scuffs, bumps and other abuse. Usually all you need to repair the damage the case is glue for a loose seam or maybe a new sticker to cover a small dent. But if the handle falls off, or a case gets badly cracked, more attention is required. Rivets are fast, easy and strong enough to get that hardworking case back on stage again. The most common type are called blind rivets, which are ideal for guitar case repair because you don't need to have access to both sides of the workpiece.
Remove the instrument. Check the interior of the case under the area to be repaired. High quality cases have thick walls covered with heavy padding shaped to cradle the guitar. Make sure the planned repairs will not compromise this protection.
Remove any remaining pieces of the previous fasteners. Drill them out if necessary. Be careful not to lose any sharp fragments in the case lining that could damage your instrument.
Determine the size rivet you'll need for the repair by measuring the diameter of the hole in the case and thickness of the materials to be joined. Look on the package for the specific diameter and grip range the rivet will accommodate.
Slide the mandrel of the rivet into the rivet tool. Carefully line up the hole in the mounting flange of the handle, latch or hinge with the hole in the guitar case. Insert the body of the rivet into the hole. Press the rivet firmly against the surface of the flange while squeezing the handles of the rivet tool. When the rivet body is compressed against the interior of the case as far as it will go, the tool will snap off the mandrel, setting the rivet.
Examine the inside of the case under the area to be repaired. Make sure the blind side of the rivets will not poke through the lining or expose your instrument to any damage. Add a soft covering or extra padding behind the lining if needed.
Select a material to cover the hole or bind the crack. The repair will definitely stand out, so the idea is to use something that gives you the look you want. Whatever you use will have to be thick enough to make the repair, yet flexible enough to conform to the case, especially on curves and corners.
Cut the repair patch to fit the hole or crack, with about a half an inch of overlap. Smooth the edges and round off sharp corners. Choose an appropriate size rivet. Drill holes for the rivets, starting with the repair material. Put the patch in place and mark the case for drilling, using the holes in the patch as a guide.
Attach a stop collar to the drill bit, so it won't penetrate the case any farther than necessary. Very carefully drill holes at the marked locations.
Attach the patch with rivets. Apply pressure from inside a flexible case when necessary to keep the patch and case as close together as possible while riveting.
If an expensive case must be disassembled or the padding completely removed to make repairs, consider leaving the task to a music shop or luggage repair professional, especially if you're not confident you can put it all back together. For repairing small holes and cracks, light gauge aluminium is a good choice because it's strong yet easy to work with. Large holes or cracks in plastic cases might be easier to repair with a fibreglass or epoxy patch.
Wear eye protection when installing rivets.