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Old 12-08-2017, 10:45 AM
iamtheari iamtheari is offline
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: ND
Posts: 283
Default Newbie Questions About Tools

Hi everyone. I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger on my RV-14 kit but I am getting close. I want to make sure that I am 99% ready to go when that time comes, so I am doing things like preparing my work space and getting ready to order tools. I am a first-time builder and have no metalwork experience. A local A&P who used to build Kodiak wings at Quest wants to help, so I will have a good resource there especially for things like learning how to rivet.

I am looking through the Cleaveland tool kit recommended for the RV-14 and I have a few questions. Some of them are "Do I need this?" but most are "What else do I need?" If there is any possibility for doubt, it's best to assume that I don't have the tool. For example, I don't have a bench vise. Also, my theme is that I am spending $30,000 or more for the kit alone, and I really do not want it to remain a pile of parts in my basement for the next 30 years. I want the build to be a pleasure that I look forward to most of the time, so that I end up with a great airplane while I am still young enough to fly it. I don't want to throw money away, but I would rather spend an extra $100 on a tool than an extra lifetime of regret over not having it.

1. Cleaveland includes a 1/4" air drill in the kit. I assume that the lighter weight and higher RPM of the air drill make it worth the $250 price tag. Are there other pros/cons? Is there a different or additional drill that would be better to have? Is there enough drilling on the RV-14 to justify the air drill in the first place rather than using my good electric drill?

2. Cleaveland includes a C-frame bench riveting tool. My understanding from watching other people's build videos is that this is mostly for dimpling skins. Is the one they sell the one to get or should I look for something else?

3. Since I will have a skilled helper at least some of the time, are there any tools that are worth having two of? For example, Cleaveland's kit has a 3-piece aluminum deburr handle. Does it make sense to have two of those to deburr twice as fast or is that a false savings?

4. Cleaveland includes a 3X rivet gun. Is it worthwhile to have a 2X as well or can the plane comfortably be built with just the 3X?

5. What non-airplane tools am I going to need? I have an air compressor but plan to buy a different one anyhow (word to the wise: never buy an oil-less air compressor larger than pancake size, it's not worth it) and I'll just keep the old one in the garage while I build in the basement. I know I will need a bench grinder and bench vise. I suspect I will need a drill press and maybe a band saw. Help me out here. Also, I have used air-powered paint guns and I hate the cleanup process. Should I bother with a gun for priming or should I go with rattle cans?

6. I don't want to haul all of my garage furniture down to the basement, so I need to supply whatever work surfaces and storage are going to be necessary for this project. I am going to build two 24"x60" workbenches (thank you, EAA Chapter 1000). I'll probably pick up a Sears Craftsman rolling workstation with drawers (I have the 42" one with 11 drawers and a hardwood top that I like, maybe I can use that but more likely I'll buy another for airplane stuff and move it to the hangar when I'm done building). I also think I'll get the Harbor Freight 74-bin rolling parts rack for fasteners and small parts. What else do you consider a must-have?

That's all I have for now, but I'm sure I'll have more between now and sending in my orders for tools and for the empennage kit. I am planning to place my order sometime around January 15. Thanks in advance for any and all guidance along the way!
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:04 AM
bruceh's Avatar
bruceh bruceh is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ramona, CA
Posts: 2,163

Yes, you can build with just the 3X rivet gun.
Yes, you will need to have the C-Frame for dimpling, but I never set a rivet using it.
When I bought my tool kit, I deleted some items that I already had, like files, tin snips, punches.
I would definitely get the air drill and a good compressor. You'll need the compressor for the riveting. I also would get the pneumatic sqeezer if it isn't in the standard kit. The money you spend on this, along with an adjustable set and various yokes will make your build SO much easier.
I highly recommend that you get a good drill press and band saw, along with the bench grinder. The one power tool I didn't have, but wished I did was a bench disc/belt sander.
Get the basic deburring tool that you twist. If you have a helper, and need another one, they are cheap. Same goes for an extra pair of cleco pliers.
I found during the build that the basic tool kit is just a starting point. You will need to buy more stuff as you go, especially when you get to the wiring. I bought some specialized tools for rivet removal, edge rolling, etc. and they were worth the price. You can never have too many tools!
Bruce Hill
RV-9A N5771H flown over 600 hours!
APRS Tracking for KJ6YRP and New Flying Blog
2018 VAF donator
EAA Tech Counselor
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:08 AM
control control is online now
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posts: 640

First time builder here who has recently started on the RV14 finish kit.

1. You definitely need an air drill, not sure if it needs to be of good quality, just make sure to get a keyless chuck.

2. I guess it is possible to be without but there is a huge amount of dimpling to be done on skins that would be very hard to do without a C-frame.

3. nah...

4. I have done everything with a 3X gun... just learn to adjust it low.

5. If possible have the compressor in another room. Drill press and band saw are a must I would say. For priming I use rattle cans for small jobs and an air gun for large sessions.

6. You will build a wing stand and some other stands in the process using standard 2x4.... nothing that needs to be pre-planned.

Start sooner than later and have fun!
RV-14 kit #140138
I have entered the 90% done, 90% left to do zone
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:21 AM
Kyle Boatright Kyle Boatright is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 3,643

Plenty of opinions on these issues. None are wrong.

I have a 2x gun. If I was buying new (from scratch) I'd get a 3x gun.

I have an air driven high speed drill. It gathers dust while I drill with my cordles 18V drill. I don't like being tied to a compressor and/or hoses unless absolutely necessary.

I have always found manual squeezers to be very cost effective tools. I have yet to need an air driven one. I think I could probably rivet just as fast with a manual squeezer as with the pneumatic one, and even better, no compressor or cords required.

The C-frame tools from various vendors are all similar enough that it isn't an issue.

You'll need files, rulers, sharpie markers, snips, drifts, a center punch, etc. I have a boatload of tools, and they all come in handy at some point. A drill press and bandsaw are very helpful, as is a benchtop sander.

Old doors set on sawhorses make great workbenches. They are extremely portable and take up very little room when stored.

Priming? Honestly, you'll go broke using rattle cans. They just don't contain much sprayable material. They are great for when you have one or two little parts to prime and don't want to clean up, but otherwise, they are pretty inefficient. The exception would be if you only primed faying surfaces (i.e. places where one part contacts another). You wouldn't need a lot of primer for that.
Kyle Boatright
Atlanta, GA
2001 RV-6 N46KB
2019(?) RV-10
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:32 AM
SMO's Avatar
SMO SMO is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Salmon Arm, BC
Posts: 932

I haven't built a -14, my responses are based on building my Rocket:

1. I bought a 1/4" drill. I have used tools for most of my 63 years, and wish I had bought one of these years ago. I really like it and have used it a lot after the build. I also got the quick change device for it - use mostly for #40 and #30 bits. if you get one of these be sure to get a light 1/4" hose with quick-couplers.

2. Cleaveland's C-frame is fine, you will need this. I use a DRDT-2 instead, but not necessary and there are those who claim it doesn't create as crisp a dimple. Don't know - mine works fine.

3. Get a couple cleco pliers, and a second deburring tool is a good idea,

4. The 3X should be all you need. When you get practice you will be able to adjust the amount of hammering with finger pressure.

5. The bigger tools I use most are my driill press, small band saw, bench vise, and scotchbrite wheel on the angle grinder. I also would not do this without a pneumatic squeezer. With respect to priming, I used my spray gun (I have a 7'x7'x7' spray booth) with epoxy primer. Others have used rattle cans, others don't prime at all - personal choice. Another word regarding air compressors - get a 2 stage compressor if you can.

6. My primary workbench is 96"x30". The top is a sacrificial piece of MDF that I have turned over once and now need to replace. I cut out a 1 foot square on the edge where I inserted a 1/2" steel plate to use for back-riveting. I also have a couple of small parts bins which I have labeled for all the rivets, screws, washers, nuts, etc. I would buy an extra supply of these things beyond what is included in the kit.

There are lots of differing opinions out there. The above is what works well for me.
Mark Olson
1987 RV-4 Sold
2003 Super Decathlon - Sold
F1 EVO Rocket, first flight May 31/14
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:37 AM
mfleming's Avatar
mfleming mfleming is offline
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Joseph, Oregon
Posts: 344

Here is a reasonably priced drill, I've found this drill to be every bit at good as the Sioux.

Cleveland will substitute the Nova for the Sioux and reduce the cost of the kit accordingly.
Michael Fleming
Joseph, OR
sagriver at icloud dot com

RV-7 Slider #74572
Started 11/2016
Empennage completed 11/2016 (sans fiberglass)
Ailerons and flaps completed 3/2017.
Wings completed 12/2017 (sans fiberglass)
Started on QB fuselage 01/2018
Donated and so should you
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:59 AM
DRMA DRMA is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Sugar Land, TX
Posts: 303

A few additional thoughts from an RV-10 builder who is getting close to ready to move my project from the shop to the airport for final assembly and first flight:

While I make extensive use of the air drill, I also find having a cordless drill handy with a straight flute reamer to slightly open the occasional rivet hole when driving rivets and the rivet won't fit is worth having. It's also useful for things like step drills with 3/8" shanks that won't fit in the 1/4" air drill.

Instead of the C-Frame, I strongly recommend you consider a DRDT dimpling tool. It provides much more uniform results, and is much quieter.

I found having a pneumatic squeezer to be very useful. Yes, I could have built with just a Cleaveland Main Squeeze, but the pneumatic squeezer was my go-to tool.

Get at least one good Tungsten Bucking Bar similar to the Cleaveland BBT41. It's expensive, but it was the bar I used for probably 95%+ of my driven rivets.

Since you are a first time builder, I would recommend you spend the money to take an introductory EAA sheet metal class. This class helped me get quickly up speed and to make my mistakes on the practice project instead of the empennage.

I also took the Synergy Air empennage class. This class was a great way to get quickly started with my build, while having the opportunity to try a wide variety of tools and techniques which helped me decide the tools I wanted to buy for my project. If you can afford the time and cost, I would highly recommend you consider this. For me it was well worth the investment in this class, as I avoided many newbie mistakes and I believe have a much better quality aircraft build as a result. While your having a local A&P for help and advice is good, unless the A&P has built kit planes, he will not have the skills and experience the Synergy Air A&Ps have to impart to their students.

Welcome to the aircraft builders world. Hope you enjoy the journey.
Dave Macdonald

RV-10 Finishing Kit & FWF in-progress
2019 VAF Dues Paid
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:05 PM
salto salto is offline
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Wee Waa Australia
Posts: 270

When you build your work benches built them to a height that is comfortable for you and spend the time getting them absolutely flat.
My main work bench is the size of one full sheet of waterproof ply. 6 foot by 4 foot.
Most holes are already prepunched to size so my battery drill gets most of the work. A tight head chuckless 90deg drill kit has been very handy at times. A lot of thought has gone into the kits like the Cleveland one, believe me it's just a start. You'll be drooling over tool catalogues as part of the building ritual. Good luck.
Kit 140241
Tail Feathers done
Fuselage kit completed.
wings almost complete.
Flaps and ailerons done.
Canopy next. Phew!
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:19 PM
JwWright57 JwWright57 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 114

Definitely get the #30 and #40 reamers, a few each, you will use them all the time.

The Lightweight Airhose Kit (Item #: ACKIT) is a must, much better then dragging along all the heavy hoses. I bought a good hose reel and have never missed the dedicated stations that some people put in

For drills I bought a nice and small 12v Hitachi lithium powered. Smaller is better.

For priming I've found a cheap touch up gun works great (found one on amazon ) PowRyte Elite 4.2 Oz Composite Mini HVLP Gravity Feed Air Spray Gun - 0.8mm Nozzle , less than $30

Put all your workspaces on casters so you can easily move stuff around.

Moving type blankets for wrapping up finished products (you can find them for 5 bucks)

Lots of the maroon scotch-brite pads

I've found a good drill press and small band saw (Lowes about $100) save a lot of time and produce a much better product
Jeff Wright, Charlotte NC
Rv-12 started!
Tail 99% done
Wings 99% done
12IS fuse kit in progress
Dues paid 2019
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Old 12-08-2017, 04:08 PM
wirejock's Avatar
wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 3,268
Default Tools

Congratulations. Welcome to the Dark Side!
Tools are very personal. Start with the set and see where your personality takes you.
1. Good, light, fast 1/4". 6,000 RPM
2. Very personal. I prefer a c-frame.
3. Yes. Extra devurring and tool is handy for more than just friends. During assembly, it's handy to keep a threaded shank bit in one and countersink in the other. Two cages is nice. Three is even better. Two cleko pliers is good. Four or more will guarantee one is not lost.
4. Same as #1. Good 3X. Sioux 3X
5. Vise, grinder, band saw, drill press, bench sander. I prefer HVLP but lots are building with spray cans.
6. EAA benches are fine. I built a third using the excess plywood for the bench tools. I bought four of the mini drawer HF parts bins for all the bolts, nuts, washers, etc. Larger parts live wherever but my inventory has a column for shop location so I don't go insane looking. My mentor gave me the best tip. Buy a case of water in small bottles. Drink the water. Dry the bottles. That's 12 bottles for rivets. Label them before filling. Need more? Buy another case. They don't spill much if you knock one over. Buy some disposable cups and bowls. When you work, place the bottle in the bowl and pour out only what you need.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 12/27/2018. Plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (2,000+ hours)
HS SB, empennage, tanks, wings, fuse, working finishing kit
I cannot be, nor will I be, held responsible if you try to do the same things I do and it does not work and/or causes you loss, injury, or even death in the process.
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