Sheet Metal Aircraft Workshop Suggestions

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Jman

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Oct 22, 2002
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Pacific NW, USA!
I figured it might be a good idea to start a thread for people with experience building sheet metal aircraft to post what they feel are the essential tools and workshop tips and tricks that are necessary to build a sheet metal aircraft. Hopefully this thread will give new builders some good info to get started. Thanks in advance.

Jake
 

Dust

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Feb 9, 2004
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Troy, Michigan
ok, so how do you do sheet metal, is it true that you undersize the hole first, cleco it together and then redrill to size?

enjoy the build

dust
 

Craig

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Jan 30, 2003
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Jupiter, Florida
Drilling

Dust, you are exactly right. Drill the hole undersize by about two numbers (i.e., use #31 bit), then cleco. When all the holes are done and matched, then come back and drill them with the #29.

Works a charm! Be sure to lightly debur both sides of each hole.

Craig
 

StRaNgEdAyS

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Northern NSW Australia
Kewl. now for the newbies to metal construction...
Cleco's are used to hold the pieces together prior to riveting, is this correct?
Do you have to use a cleco for every hole you need to rivet?
 

Craig

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Jupiter, Florida
Clecos

There are several types of clecos, for differing situations. Most are to put into holes to keep things lined up while drilling, fitting, rivetting, etc.
They are color coded, with copper for 1/8, brass for 3/16, etc.
There are also some for clipping the edges of two pieces together.
Along with clecos, as they are spring loaded, you need cleco pliers - one jaw has a "U" shape to fit around the barrel, the other a flat end to depress the plunger.
Clecos are generally NOT put into every hole - just enough to hold things together in a proper manner. About every third or fourth hole is plenty (generally speaking).
When you go to rivet, start in the center holes, and work your way outward. This helps to keep things lined up a bit better. Remove the clecos as you approach them for either rivetting or drilling - if drilling, keep moving the clecos to a hole you've recently drilled to size.

Good luck - keep the work and the questions alive!
 

StRaNgEdAyS

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Oct 20, 2003
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Northern NSW Australia
Thanks for that!
:D
That helps me a lot. I am very much looking forward to riveting it all together...(though I'll probably not want to see another rivet again by the time I am done:gig:)
 

Dust

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Feb 9, 2004
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Troy, Michigan
Ok, for my next question. do you make the ribs by forming two wood templets, ,clamping the metal for the rib between them and then hammering a flange on and then drilling out "lightening holes" and trimming the flange straight?

enjoy the build
 

Craig

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Jan 30, 2003
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Location
Jupiter, Florida
Rib forming

Dust asks:
Ok, for my next question. do you make the ribs by forming two wood templets, ,clamping the metal for the rib between them and then hammering a flange on and then drilling out "lightening holes" and trimming the flange straight?

Dust - you are right!

It helps to put some locating dowels into one of the forming pieces, with corresponding holes cut into the rib blank. This keeps everything lined up nicely.

Fluting pliers or metal stretcher/shrinkers are usually utilized to help form the flange. I made a small pair using a piece of 1/2" solid rod and 1/2" id steel tubing, welded onto the jaws of a pair of inexpensive pliers. If you want small flutes, ask a jeweler to get you a pair of ring bending pliers.

The last step will be trimming the edges straight - a good file, stationary disc or belt sander, works wonders.

Try to put the flutes where the rivets don't go - it is awfully hard to rivet in the fluted area.

Try to get a good metal shear and brake - sometimes they are available used. Mine are both 4' working width, and each weighs over 1,000 lb.

Good luck with all of this - sheet metal is a lot of fun, and you can really make some interesting parts.
 

Dust

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Feb 9, 2004
Messages
302
Location
Troy, Michigan
As i wrote that i rememberred laminate bending an oak splat, funny word - think it is the right one, for a chair and because i had no locating pins or bolts it was far more dificult that it should have been. Couldn't add them at the time, glue was setting, he he he

added them for future bending jobs

enjoy the build

dust
 
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