I have a mirror (left) attached to a little cabinet (right) via two hinges in the following picture. The combination is supposed to be fixed above the sink in my bathroom.

But now I would like to detach the mirror from the little cabinet. There are no screws for the hinges, so I wonder how to do that and with what tools?

(Click for larger view)
mirror on cabinet

Closer look at a hinge (Click for larger view):
hinge closeup

  • 1
    Yes- drilling them out is the only way. Slowly and steadily with a larger metal bit than the heads. If you want to put them back, fill the holes with wood filler and just use wood screws slightly higher or lower to ensure good grip.
    – Piotr Kula
    Jul 31 '12 at 14:02
  • 1
    In my experience, drilling sometimes causes the whole rivet to spin. Jul 31 '12 at 15:59

You might be able to remove the hinge pin by gently tapping from the bottom up, using an appropriate size punch and hammer. The photos don't show the top and the bottom of your hinges well.
If the hinge pin is flanged at both ends (like a nail head), then you won't be able to do this, though.

Otherwise, you'll have to remove the rivets...
You could try drilling them out, but take care not to damage the hinge and/or the mirror frame.

Likewise, you could take a Dremel cutting wheel and carefully cut off the rivet crimps (See the image below).

But, for small jobs like this and with small soft-ish rivets, I've had good luck just mashing the rivet-crimps with vise-grips and/or diagonal cutters -- squeezing it small enough that the rivet could be pushed through the whole. If the rivets are not too tough, this can be the fastest and cleanest way to get them off.

hinge and rivet parts

Note for completeness: In some cases, rivet crimps and/or heads can be chiseled off, but in this case, it would probably wreck your cabinet in the process.

  • If you want this process to be reversable, make sure you can access the other side of the rivets you drill out. If the heads on the door side are behind the mirror you may not be able to re-attach the hinge without removing the mirror. Which may be glued to the door.
    – Craig
    Jul 31 '12 at 20:48
  • @craig, that's probably not an issue. The door is metal; I've never seen one of those with a glued-on mirror; it will be framed in some manner. ... But even if the other side is not easily accessible, he can reattach the door by using pop-rivets. Jul 31 '12 at 21:19
  • Thanks, Brock! How did you put those labels and marks on the picture?
    – Tim
    Aug 1 '12 at 14:48
  • I used a program called Fireworks, but there are hundreds of photo editing programs out there -- some for free, and including free websites IIRC. Aug 1 '12 at 17:04

My vote is for careful/judicious use of a 4" angle grinder. I'd grind about 80% through the exposed rivet heads and then apply a prying force to break the remaining steel.

It won't take very long! a few seconds per rivet If you're right handed, start with the rivets on the right face: That's a more natural/controlled way to hold the grinder. A brand new grinding wheel has a more precise grinding edge for precise control Be careful not to grind the painted surfaces Try not to grind anything except the rivets themselves Use pop-rivets or machine screws with nuts to re-assemble.

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