Hyperion 900x250
Log In
Access Premium Site»
Not a member? Join today!

20 Builder’s Essentials

20 Builder’s Essentials

The old saying that “Anything is easy if you have the right tools” is particularly true in modeling; the proper tools will simplify any job. There are so many great tools, though, that it can be a challenge to know which to choose. The hardware and tools here will help you with your next project, whether it’s a quick-building ARF or a complete scratch-build.

DREMEL STYLUS CORDLESS ROTARY TOOL

This new, innovative Dremel tool offers a contour-grip design with the latest in lithium-ion battery technology. This tool feels almost like an extension of your hand and allows precise control. This is a tool that gets a workout on every project we do, and it’s equally valuable in the workshop and as a field-box tool. With the tremendous variety of materials it can cut, the Dremel Stylus is one of the most versatile tools around.

K&S TUBING CUTTER & BENDER

Whether your plane runs on gas or glow, you will need to cut and bend tubing for it. The K&S Cutter can cut tubing of up to a 5/8 inch diameter without crimping it. The easy-to-use bender works well on tubing of up to a 3/16-inch diameter and allows you to bend it without crimping it.

DU-BRO E/Z THREADER

Tired of nursing your sore fingers after you’ve threaded on all the clevises? Then this tool is just what you need! It makes installing swivel ball links, nylon clevises and cup-style ball links quick and easy.

GREAT PLANES EASY-TOUCH HAND SANDER & CONTOUR MULTI-SANDER

Sanding is never fun, but the Easy-Touch Contour Multi-Sander and Hand Sander make the job much easier. We use three of each size, one for each grit: coarse (80), medium (150) and fine (180 or 220).

MIDWEST PRODUCTS EASY MITER BOX

This miter box offers many features that make cutting balsa and other woods a simple job. It can handle material as wide as 2 inches and as thick as 1/4 inch. It enables you to make straight cuts as well as angled cuts of 22.5, 30, 45 and 60 degrees. The best things about this miter box are the three cam clamps that hold the material firmly in place while you’re cutting.

HANGAR 9 Z-BEND PLIERS

A Z-bend is probably the easiest way to make a solid connection on at least one end of a pushrod (save the other end of the pushrod for an adjustable connector). These Z-Bend Pliers make this and many other jobs considerably easier.

DU-BRO KWIK-HINGE SLOTTER KIT

This slotting kit takes the hassle out of cutting or reopening hinge slots. Included in the kit is a center guide that fits any type of hinge and helps you achieve perfect alignment slots.

CASTLE CREATIONS CASTLE LINK ESC PROGRAMMER

We bought this programmer because we were tired of programming ESCs with stick movements and listening for the beeping patterns. Working from a computer, you select each of the functions from the dropdown menu. After you’ve selected all of the information, you transfer it to the ESC via a USB line. What could be simpler?

GREAT PLANES C.G. MACHINE

The most important way to guarantee a successful first flight is to balance your plane properly. For this important step, we rely on the Great Planes C.G. Machine for all but the largest airplanes. This tool is easy to use and is much more reliable than balancing the plane by picking it up by its wingtips.

GREAT PLANES PROP REAMER

This is an essential tool. It seems as though whenever we use new props, the hole almost always has to be enlarged. The only sure and safe way to do this is with a prop reamer such as the one from Great Planes. Using a hand drill or a drill press means that you run the risk of off-centering the hole and rendering the prop useless. This will never happen with a prop reamer.

GREAT PLANES BUILDER’S TRIANGLE SET

A squarely built plane will fly well and true. At some point, every ARF that you build will require the rudder to be squared up with the stabilizer. This tool simplifies that task.

H.P. PILOTS 3D PRO THROW METER

The manuals for every plane we build have recommended control throws listed, and this meter is an easy way to set the throw of any control surface. The plane does not have to be sitting level, either; just clip the throw meter to the trailing edge of the control surface, level the gauge and adjust the throw with your radio’s endpoint adjustment or pushrod connectors.

CHARGER RC BEVELING TOOL

If you like to build flat foamies, you will love this tool. With one simple pull across any control surface, it makes a clean, perfectly beveled cut that is ready for hinge tape.

GREAT PLANES DEAD CENTER ENGINE MOUNT HOLE LOCATER

This tool is just the ticket for marking the exact location of the mounting hole in an engine or motor mount, but we also like to use it to mark the locations of the servo-mounting holes and for other critical hole placements.

 

MIDWEST PRODUCTS EASY CUTTER ULTIMATE

Sometimes, we modelers need only a quick trim on a stick of balsa, and one way to do this is with a hobby knife. A much more accurate and cleaner method of cutting sticks of balsa, however, is to use the Midwest Easy Cutter Ultimate. Set the fence on the cutter at the angle of the cut, and make as many repetitive cuts as you need.

DU-BRO TRU-SPIN PROP BALANCER

Balancing your prop is an absolute necessity; it saves wear and tear on the plane and on the motor. One of the best ways to do it is with a Tru-spin prop balancer. This tool can handle props, spinners and rotor heads of any size and results in a precise balance every time.

GREAT PLANES ACCUPOINT LASER INCIDENCE METER

It’s always a good idea to check your plane’s incidence; a correct incidence will improve its flight performance. A tool that makes this job a snap is the AccuPoint Laser Incidence Meter; it’s easy to set up even when the plane is not on a level surface — a great tool to have.

MIDWEST PRODUCTS HOBBY & CRAFT RULER

Modelers often have a stack of balsa sticks of various sizes, and when we need a piece of a certain size, we reach for the Hobby & Craft ruler. It has slots for measuring thicknesses of up to 1/4 inch and holes for dowels of up to 1 inch in diameter. Oh yeah, it even has an 8-inch ruler on one side. Sweet!

ROBART SUPER STAND II

Working on a fuselage can be a pain; it often won’t stay in one place but instead wants to roll around. Thank goodness for the Super Stand II! It holds the fuselage firmly — with or without the wing on — without damaging it.

 

Updated: July 23, 2015 — 8:50 AM

12 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. “automatic wirestripper” is a must. Hard to describe but it’s different than a single plier type, it clamps on to the wire jacket and then cuts and pulls. It’s tremendously handy.

  2. Links to purchase these items would have been great 😉

  3. You forgot the slot machine, razor planer, air brush, x-acto #11 knife with at least 100 blades, last but not least cordless drill.

  4. CA glue?

  5. The GREAT PLANES ACCUPOINT LASER INCIDENCE METER has been discontinued according to the Great Planes site.

  6. Hi. I have a Dremel Stylus and is a wonderful tool. When the battery goes dead, simply change to a 1000-1300 mAh LiPo and you will be fine (but of course, you will have to stop using the original charger). Thank you very much for your articles !!

  7. Master Airscrew balsa stripper for the win!

    1. That balsa stripper completely changed my life when I started building planes from scratch

  8. What you really forgot was the Aerobroach!! The ABSOLUTE BEST way to create hinge slots. See it and purchase at aerobroach.com. If you haven’t tried them you should!!! Don’t waste time with hinges just one easy motion and they are DONE.

  9. Nice job. I have almost every tool listed. I love building, but kits are becoming obsolete I fear. Arf’s are taking over. The only problem I have with arfs is that the new modeler has absolutely no idea how to repair a crash damaged airframe, as they have never built one. “Back in the day” (lol) we built all of our planes, and then knew how they went together which made repair easier.

  10. The Harry Higgley Monokote trimmer is worth it’s weight in gold. It gives you a straight cut/trim on all but the really tight turns. I haven’t found anything that even comes close to matching it.

  11. I’ve got most of the tools listed here, plus quite a few listed in the comments. most really are handy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Airage Media © 2016
WordPress Lightbox Plugin