Building with minimal tools

Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by Little Scrapper, Aug 25, 2017.

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1. Aug 30, 2017

TFF

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It's a tool question and what you are willing to buy or afford. If you can go router, I would. At the other end and the old timer way would be cut line close and use a file to clean to your reference line. The really patient chraftsmen can do the one swipe and stand back to analyze. The sheet metal department at my old airline would have rough cut and then trimmed to line with a die grinder and sanding or scotch brite wheel.

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2. Aug 30, 2017

Mark Schoening

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Had good luck with a wood type band saw with a fine tooth wood blade...cut just to the line and polish edge with rubber abrasive wheel. (scotchbrite wheel)

3. Aug 30, 2017

akwrencher

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Google sheet metal nibler. Many good options pop up.

4. Aug 30, 2017

skier

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Interesting. There are a couple different choices mentioned above. I see a few pros and cons to each.

1. Router - Seems like a good way to make multiple identical parts. To do this, it seems like you make 2 templates out of wood, sandwich the (rough cut) aluminum between the templates, and then use the router with the wood as a guide. This seems like a more expensive method. It would require essentially building the plane 3 times. Twice in wood (the template to cut the aluminum to size and forming blocks to bend the aluminum over) and then once in metal. So there's the cost of MDF for the templates, the tools to cut the MDF, the router, the router bit, and the aluminum. This seems like it would be great for something like wing ribs where you're making a bunch and want them to all be the same, however, it seems like a pain for the fuselage bulkheads where you only need 1 copy at the end.

2. Rough cut with snips/shears (band saw, nibbler, etc), then do smaller passes to get the final size, then finish using a file or a belt sander. This seems less costly (I already have the snips and belt sander) and perhaps more convenient for the one off parts. However, I would still need the wood-working tools to make the forming blocks to bend the flanges. And I would need a good way of transferring the outline to the sheet metal to cut (part 1 of my question above).

So really, it seems to come down to needing to buy a router (and bit) for #1, needing the wood working tools a bit earlier, and needing twice as much MDF. But the results (knowing my unsteady hands) would probably end up better.

5. Aug 30, 2017

Little Scrapper

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Next time I'm in my shop I'll snap a photo and show you my scrap made router jig/table for making parts. Used routers are cheap at rummage sales, eBay, Facebook market, goodwill, St Vincent DePaul thrift store, and Harbor Freight.

A router on Facebook classifieds by me just had a Porter Cable router for $25. I made my router table for probably$20 worth of scrap. Just remember, aluminum dust everywhere........EVERYWHERE!!!

If I ever decide to do it again I'd absolutely consider sides and a top.and some sort of vacuum system to help contain the particles. Or maybe just a 200' extension cord and set it up in the neighbors back yard when he's at work. Lol.

6. Aug 30, 2017

Little Scrapper

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Couple screen shots from Facebook marketplace. Something like this is pretty darn affordable fun.

7. Aug 30, 2017

Pops

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I would rather cut the ribs out with snips than clean up after using a router + I hate the noise. On the Bearhawk wings, I could cut a main rib blank out and form the rib in 30 minutes. I made all the ribs for the wings of 2 Bearhawks.

8. Aug 30, 2017

Little Scrapper

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I agree the mess is insanity for sure.

Because the flange edges don't need to be that accurate doing it your way and cleaning it up with a disc sander or scotchbrite wheel probably makes for a much more fun job.

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9. Aug 31, 2017

Rockiedog2

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this the first 2 items on my minimum tools list

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10. Aug 31, 2017

BJC

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You have a back on your shop chair? Pure luxury.

BJC

11. Aug 31, 2017

Little Scrapper

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Adjustable backrest if you have a crooked back. Haha.

12. Aug 31, 2017

Kyle Boatright

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I come to similar conclusions quickly too. The guy who spends 6 months getting his shop ready before he builds anything is the one I never expect to finish. In fact, I don't expect him (or her) to get much of a start.

I'm a believer in buying the minimum tools necessary, throwing the parts on an old table, and getting started. As I recognize the need for another tool, I buy that tool.

Of course, now (after over 20 years of this stuff), I have most everything I'd ever need to build any HB aircraft except maybe a mill or a bigger lathe.

Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
13. Aug 31, 2017

Little Scrapper

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Opposite for me. I'm highly organized. You could eat off my shop floor.

Cleanliness, organization, etc, all a sign of productivity and self respect. Of course, I own a
Plumbing business so being messy means I'm losing money. I don't like losing money. There's nothing of value in disorganization.

I'm not sure how many people's shops you are in, I'm in a lot of them. People who are clean and organized are people who understand productivity. Messy shops, no thanks.

I think the real facts are pretty simple, very few people finish airplanes and it has little to do with your shop.

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14. Aug 31, 2017

Pops

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Never seen a spotless shop where the owner didn't spend most of his time cleaning the shop instead of getting something done. Of course, if its open to the public when running a business, that's different, because, sorry to say image is everything to a large amount of people today that are the 1960's and after generations. Organization helps production, but having a show place shop, does not. Moderation in all things.
Working as an engineer, one of the jobs that I have done is organize the work in plants for higher production. That is what designing work stations is all about. All the small things all up.

15. Aug 31, 2017

Little Scrapper

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I clean up after I work. Is this a crime? Lol.

I was brought up in a way where being clean is what we do out of respect. I completely disagree with the judgement that goes on in this forum. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous to it people who are clean are somehow less than people who are slobs.

16. Aug 31, 2017

Raceair

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Kyle, I sell plans for various designs of mine. I include a basic builders manual. In every one, chapter one is about getting organized, and staying organized. It is about the mental attitude of working on a homebuilt. I even stress the need for a chair/end table / couch in the corner, with a small refrigerator, and maybe a radio. These niceties are helpful to keep the hobby fun. I have framed photos and sketches of airplanes on the walls.... Nothing worse than tripping over tools when working in the shop. Being organized has not hindered progress with building...I have built 21 airplanes. Most of the time, my shop is like having a second living room.....

17. Aug 31, 2017

Pops

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I agree being clean out of respect. Did you ever open the door to get in someone's auto and the floor is littered with trash, says a lot about them.
But some people spend their time over organizing and not getting anything productive done. Yes, at the end of the DAY I clean up where I have been working and put my tools away so I will be able to find them when needed and not having to spend half a day looking for the drill I used yesterday. Putting the tools where kept helps you to be more productive. Some people would use a table saw and clean up all the mess knowing latter in the day they will need to use the saw again, but they clean up the sawdust after each use instead of at the end of the day because they want the shop to be a showplace and it will not look good for their image. Non productive. The same type of people will go in debt and buy the auto and home to put out the image they want to project. To a lot of people today everything is about image, how the talk, what words they use , how they dress, their jobs, and their shop , etc.
You are a plumber ( and I'm sure a good one) and I know a lot of people that would look down on you because you work with your hands. I have had comments made to me because I have had jobs working with my hands and as they said " I don't work with my hands, I work with my brain". Yep, dumb A** people.
Yes, we are all different , I try to keep my organization down or up to be as productive as possible, but we all are different and together we make a whole. All are needed.
Like Joe, my 3000 sq' hanger/shop has AC and heated and have nice chairs and a couch for napping in front of a wood burning stove with a glass door to watch the flames before going to sleep Sure is nice on a cold winter day when the snow is flying.
Non-productive but give me a break, I'm old.

18. Aug 31, 2017

narfi

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Building with minimal tools?
I firmly believe that just as you can create the most delicious soup with only a pot of water and one large stone, you can build a high performance airplane with just a rivet gun and a few peices of aluminum.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Soup

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19. Aug 31, 2017

Rockiedog2

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Scrapper
Did you just go off on Pops? LOL
Remember he's our father figure.

Scrapper went off on Pops.:gig:

20. Aug 31, 2017

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