'Must have' Shop tools

Discussion in 'Tube and Fabric' started by Mike Armstrong, Apr 21, 2008.

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  1. Apr 21, 2008 #1

    Mike Armstrong

    Mike Armstrong

    Mike Armstrong

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    For you Tube and Fabric guys.

    What power tools (or others) due you consider essential for your 'hanger shop'. I think a Drill press (the lower the RPM the better), bench top Grinder, a Sander (1", 4"? and a 6-8" disk?), TIG welder (one with low amps and a Pulser for the newer guys, Lincoln TIG 185?), and a Tube Notcher capable of notching 1/2" tube OVER 45 degrees (unless you use the grinder:).

    I've already got a Grizzly Drill press capable of 140-3050rpm and a Delta variable speed 6' Bench Grinder. What else do I need to equipe my empty shop with to build a Tube and Fabric airplane? (Spacewalker II). Thanks


    Mike
     
  2. Apr 21, 2008 #2

    wally

    wally

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    A big vice with jaws 4' or more wide.

    I would suggest making a separate small bench to mount it on maybe 2' by 2' at most. Build it so the jaw height above the floor is a comfortable working height for youself. In most cases, that would be 34-36 inches to the top of the vice jaws. Make it reasonably heavy and maybe add some removable balast to the bottom. That way you can move it around to be near where you are working if you want to.

    A hand hacksaw and good blades. A good mill bastard file and some rat-tail files. You might look at a couple of chainsaw sharpening files too. They are fine cut, very hard, cylinderical and come in several diameters. Make sure all your filed have handles, your hands will get hurt much less. It is no fun to poke a file tang into your hand!

    A cheap (harbor Freight) oxy-acetylene torch kit and medium or large bottles. There will be many times you just need heat to bend something. Then you can make a pretty weld with the TIG. Or just use the oxy-acetylene torch.

    Some scrap pieces of 1x4 and 2x4 wood and plywood, usefull for all sorts of protecting and supporting parts being clamped, drilled on, pounded on, even welded on, etc.

    A small cheap band saw.

    A framing square, some C-clamps of various sizes. Vice Grip pliers. Some "bailing wire", usefull for holding pieces together for welding. Masking tape can also be used but you need to keep it back a little from the weld.
    A fan to blow the smoke from burning masking tape out of your shop. (Hey, you use what you have to do what you want to do)

    Probably lots more but that would be a start.
    Best wishes,
    Wally

    edit: you can clamp shorter tubes in your vice, cut it at the angle you need with a hand hacksaw and grind it to fit with your bench grinder almost as fast as the tubing notcher - maybe faster. With practice, you can "eyeball" the end angles and length of a tube by eye pretty close by holding it up to where it goes. And grow eye-popping biceps to show off at the beach as you saw.
    1
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2008
  3. Apr 21, 2008 #3

    jimw

    jimw

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    The belt/disc combo bench sanders are very useful.

    We managed to get by with a portable band saw for space reasons.

    You can also bend 4130 with a cheap map gas torch.

    Our favorite tool but not absolutely necessary is a mini-lathe. A bigger lathe would be better but we don't have the room. They are great for getting nice square ends on parts that rotate.

    There is still a need for sheet metal tools after your fuse is built. You can always hit up an RV builder if your budget doesn't allow for those.

    We just finished a Skybolt fuselage mostly with the above tools and what you have now.

    Jim

    One more thing- We did all of the welding with a Miller Maxstar 150 TIG welder- no pulse. It came out fine.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2008
  4. Apr 22, 2008 #4

    badger

    badger

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    Some good suggestions here. I use a LOT of those 6" "quik-grip" clamps, ang with metal C clamps. They work great too. Also, (just because I already had it), I found that the good old Dremel tool is a good thing to have....for like when the 6" grinder/wire wheel is an over kill.

    Just a couple more suggestions...

    John
     
  5. Apr 22, 2008 #5

    PTAirco

    PTAirco

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    Welding magnets! Whenever Harbor Freight Tools has them on sale I buy a few. Invaluable when you're building a tube fuselage on your own. And more C-clamps.
     
  6. Apr 22, 2008 #6

    jimw

    jimw

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    Ditto on the dremel with those 3/4" (approx) sanding drums and cut-off wheels for when every other tool is too large for the cut needed.
    Welding magnets make terrible clamps for TIG welding because they bend the arc all over the place. I imagine they would work fine with gas.
    I very much have a love/hate thing with tubing notchers. They can save time when you aren't shearing the teeth off the hole saws. Depending on tube thickness and the angle needed, they may do that alot. I had to use a corded 1/2" portable drill with the notcher. They probably work best with a large drill press.

    Jim
     
  7. Apr 23, 2008 #7

    steveair2

    steveair2

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    Get a big vice, I've broken two of the smaller ones.
    Take a piece of three or four inch PVC pipe and cut it into one inch rings.
    Then cut the rings on one side, these make great clamps for wooden wings. You can get over a hundred clamps for about five dollars.
    I drilled one inch holes in my building table next to the table frame.
    As I final fit tubes to plane I stick the tubes in the hole in the table.
    I hold light pressure against the tube while finish fitting the tube with a file.
    This saves time by not having to put the tube in and out of the vice.

    Steve
     
  8. Apr 23, 2008 #8

    Mike Armstrong

    Mike Armstrong

    Mike Armstrong

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    Great stuff! Thanks guys.
     
  9. Apr 23, 2008 #9

    badger

    badger

    badger

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    Some really good ideas here Mike. Steve's PVC clamps sound like the cats meow. Good one Steve. Clamps, clamps and more clamps. They're like underwear and socks.....you can NEVER have too many!

    John
     
  10. Apr 24, 2008 #10

    dgeronimos

    dgeronimos

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    Mike,

    You'll need a scarfing jig for the plywood in the wings. :)

    -Danny
     
  11. Apr 24, 2008 #11

    JMillar

    JMillar

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    Mark Langford, in the construction logs of his KR2s, describes how he used a router clamped to a table saw for his scarfing.
    Here's the link: http://home.hiwaay.net/~langford/kspars.html

    Actually, it's an excellent site to read regardless of what you're building, just because he deals with so many issues and techniques that you're bound to learn a pile of useful stuff.
     
  12. Apr 25, 2008 #12

    Mike Armstrong

    Mike Armstrong

    Mike Armstrong

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    Thanks for the link J.
     
  13. Apr 25, 2008 #13

    Captain_John

    Captain_John

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    I agree!

    It doesn't matter what you are working on a Dremel will make the job easier!

    They are so handy for intricate tasks, it cannot be explained. Whenever I visit the aviation department of Home Depot, I ALWAYS look at the Dremel attachments!

    :shock: CJ
     
  14. Apr 25, 2008 #14

    Midniteoyl

    Midniteoyl

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    heh...


    or are you serious? :)
     

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