Mandatory tool box

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rsrguy3

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What is your mandatory tool list for ga and sheet metal fab?
For instance... what's your favorite set of snips and why?
Please include pics or a link.
I'm currently growing my tool boxes and I need all the help I can get.
Who are you sources? A friend likes brown and the yard store.
 

TFF

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Hmmm. The best way to buy tools is to need them first. You can buy some bucking bars, a tungsten one is nice to have, but after the common ones, you pretty much make your own. Rivet guns, if you are filling up a box 2x, 3x, 5x. Short and long. A bunch of sets. A friend was moving and he sold me 6 air drills a 45, 90, a pancake, and regulars. I have only used them out of his box, but not out of mine yet. I bought half interest in a 8’ metal brake. Bought a used shrinker/ stretcher and a used harbor freight English Wheel. I have used the brake. You can buy a bunch of tools and never touch them. Old TIG welder a friend left me; it’s been a long time since I used it because another friend lets me use his new one. Start off with jobs you think you will do and be ready to add as needed. I need a hand rivet squeezer. As many heads as you can afford. Nice throatless shear. wittney punches, sheet metal nibbler. There is always a tool you don’t have and almost always a way around it. Two baby palm drills. If working like a pro one will have one set up for the holes and one set up for the counter sink. A countersink micro adjust you will need. Endless.
 

N804RV

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So many tools, I wouldn't know where to start. I suppose a really good drill motor.

Of course I have a couple of those 18v lithium drill drivers. But nothing (short of a CNC table) makes a better hole in aluminum than a really good pneumatic drill with a full tease trigger. The one I currently use the most is a $146 ATS Pro palm drill. But, the coolest one is a right-angle drill that probably cost a weeks pay back in the day when it was new. I bought it from Boeing Surplus 20 years ago. Its too heavy for high volume use, like match-drilling skins. But for those hard to reach places, my right-angle drill, some padding, and a short threaded bit works great.
 

Pops

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I have a pneumatic drill that is adjustable at any angle and short threaded bits. When you are starting to think it can't be done, go dig it out for the job.
 

karmarepair

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Shears - Malco straight shears are my go-to. Andy Classic Aluminum Handled Snips 12" I rarely use my "Aviation" compound shears.
I love my nibbler for making inside curves. http://aircraft-tool.com/shop/detail.aspx?id=64823 Clean up with a half round file.
Vixen files are neato. http://www.yardstore.com/sheet-metal-hand-tools/miscellaneous/hand-files-vixen/new
You'll need chain saw files in all the sizes.
I don't have air. I either use an old Harbor Freight corded 3000 RPM electric drill 3.2 Amp 3/8 in. Variable Speed Drill , or my NEW HF Bauer cordless drills, one is set up to drill, the other to pull rivets 20V Cordless 1/2 in. Drill/Driver - Tool Only. Pneumatic drills are nice, but the infrastructure is a bit of a PITA if you don't already have it.
The little bending brakes from Brown, ATS are fine for little parts and I use mine a lot. http://aircraft-tool.com/shop/detail.aspx?id=244ST Cheap brakes bigger than about 2 ft are not worth it unless you're bending something dead soft, and only slightly thicker than tin foil, and REAL brakes are heavy and expensive even used.
I don't drive rivets much (see no air) but when I do, I use either a squeezer or a cheap arbor press. The arbor on my press is set up to accept squeezer dies.
Pulling the stainless rivets in a SONEX by hand is torture. Milwaukee makes a nice cordless puller M12™ Rivet Tool (Tool Only) and there is a cheaper ChinCom version that looks like it takes Makita battery packs http://www.amazon.com/Cordless-Port...mzn1.fos.304cacc1-b508-45fb-a37f-a2c47c48c32f
Puller adapters for drills, there are cheaper ones (I use one), but this looks like the class of the crowd http://www.amazon.com/Astro-Pneumatic-Tool-ADR14-Adapter/dp/B01JBNKT4I?ref_=ast_sto_dp
Sonex, Zenith, and Vans have suggested tool lists. Required Tools
I use my hand seamer a lot too for small parts The Original™ Locking Sheet Metal Tools - Tools - IRWIN TOOLS
Deburring tools - you need a swivel head Deburring Tool, Swivel Head, Metal Handle and something for deburring edges on straight cut and gentle curves like Edge Deburr Tool Smaller holes I either use a slightly larger drill bit or a dog-leg Air Capital Dogleg Deburr Tool with Bit, although with either it's easy to end up with a chamfer. Lately I run a diamond lap over the hole if it's on a flat surface. Good to break edges too. HF has them cheap.
 
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N804RV

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Homemade adel clamp assistant. Shorten a hacksaw blade to the length of about 3 inches, then put a V notch in one end. The thin notch will hold the screw for the adel clamp while you screw the nut on a few turn. Rest is easy.

I had a surplus of chip chasers when I got my taco wagon home from my last aerospace employer. I whacked the handle off the ugliest one and I use it just as you describe. I have the official adel clamp pliers. But, a pair of needle nose and my homemade adel clamp screw holder is faster and easier.
 

gtae07

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What are you working on/building, and are you doing it for yourself or professionally? That's going to drive a lot of your selections. What's optimum for building an RV will be somewhat different than what you need for a Sonex, and both of those will be different from what you'd need to work on spam cans (and different again from working on heavier jets). And there's a difference in "gotta have" vs "nice to have".

From my end (building an RV) I avoid air tools when feasible. I mean, in some ways I like using them, but air tools are often loud, they have a hose (which likes to get caught/snagged almost as much as extension cords do), require a compressor banging away somewhere (which is also loud, and I have bad luck with leaking fittings, bad pumps, and more), and can't be used outside the shop. So in general I find them to be a PITA. Meanwhile my cordless drill can go anywhere (and it gets used on all kinds of stuff around the house) and my other corded tools are easier to supply. For tight spaces I have a right angle adapter I can chuck up and it works pretty well, even if it's a bit more awkward to use than a dedicated air-driven one.
 

rsrguy3

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I do a little bit of everything. What I think is fairly irrelevant. This is meant to be a chat about what you like, and why.
Dad passed in 17, I have his sheet metal and other tools as well as a 50 year old snap on machinist style box.
My stuff... it's menagerie, mostly because I’ve been ripped off multiple times. Craftsman, hf, snap-on, proto etc.
I picked up a couple of rolling boxes last week, they need cleaning and fresh paint, anyway I'm tired of crap boxes and mismatched sets, so I'm getting organized.
A box for bodywork and refinishing
A box for sheet metal
A box for standard hand and cordless tools

I have a wish list. I'd like to know what you guys like or what you'd get next and why.
It's what I do, so organization is a must.
 

Pops

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I made this HD 12" brake to make 4130 steel brackets.

Also made this 30" long brake to make small 4130 U channels for tail surfaces, Cub cabin channels, etc. Also for normal bending of aluminum.
Used 3 bottle jacks for lots of clamping pressure. Used 2--- 16" crescent wrenches for handles. Easier for storage.
Can make u channels 3/8" wide.
 

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rsrguy3

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This is exactly the stuff I'd hoped to get in this thread.... very cool thank you.
 

Yellowhammer

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Thatone
Until you use a good pneumatic drill, it is hard to believe how superior to the typical electric drill it is. That and good, sharp bits, make a huge difference.


BJC

Speaking of "good sharp drill bits", Does anybody have any suggestions as to which manufacturer makes the best drill bits? My criteria are; stays sharp for a reasonable time period, will not shatter during first hole drilled.

I have two, free standing, industrial drill presses and one smaller, bench top Harbor Freight set up that works nicely for smaller jobs.

Thanks for the guidance.

-Yellowhammer
 

Yellowhammer

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I make this HD 12" brake to make 4130 steel brackets.

Also make this 30" long brake to make small 4130 U channels for tail surfaces, Cub cabin channels, etc. Also for normal bending of aluminum.
Used 3 bottle jacks for lots of clamping pressure. Use 2--- 16" crescent wrenches for handles. Easier for storage.
Can make u channels 3/8" wide.

Great set up Pops!

Have you any suggestions on making your own solid rivet driver/hammer?

I have to set around 8 total solid rivets and would like to make something as I don't need (will on next build) an expensive one as seen on ACS site.

I have set a few so far with a "rivet driver" I made from some scrap steel I had lying around the shop and used my hammer to set them with. Results were "good enough".

Had to disassemble my port side aileron bell crank because the bearing would not rotate. It was stuck and no amount of lubrication was going to loosen it. So I ordered another bearing and had to reset the rivets. I was not happy with my workmanship. I mean it did the trick but was not pretty at all. LOL

Thanks for the input sir.

-Yellowhammer
 
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