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8 Great Shop Tips

8 Great Shop Tips

We have a better idea than fighting the crowd at the mall this holiday weekend … spend some time in your workshop! To help with that, here are eight workshop tips that we hope will make your life easier.


Use this method to help hold onto canopies. Take an 1/8-inch-thick piece of rubber sheet, cut just a small piece to fit onto the back side of the blind nut, and carefully glue it in place with CA glue. Once it is trimmed to fit, drill a 1/16-inch-diameter hole from the front side through the rubber. When the canopy screw goes through the back side of the blind nut, the rubber acts like a nylon locknut. This keeps the screws from backing out and getting lost, saving me time and money.



This wing rack is made of PVC pipes with foam covering and simple coat hangers. Bend the coat hangers to attach them to each end of the pipe, and each end of the coat hanger clips to each side of the vehicle. The second pipe is attached to the hand-hold assist on the second row of seats. To prevent swaying of the two racks, attach a string to each end of the front pipes, and fashion a hook and anchored it to the bottom rod of the head rest. The rear pipe has string attached to each end and attached to suction cups on the side window. With this setup you can carry three wings.



Here is the way to use my old credit cards and they fill a slot (no pun intended). Some jigs don’t have slots deep enough to provide a good base to keep the ribs at 90 degrees. Cut a slot in the card, so it’s still destroyed, and you now have a great building jig.



Those few of us who still build from plans or kits have long known that wax paper is less than satisfactory protection of plans when gluing with CA. Here is my solution. Try using the backing sheets from your covering film. CA absolutely will not stick to this stuff. Try to save the large pieces from covering wing panels and use it to protect your plans. Save money while recycling.



Tired of your drab old cockpit? Spruce it up with a photo. You can get pictures of aircraft cockpits from magazines, books, or even online. Just take a picture with your digital camera, and edit it with your photo program to the correct size and shape. Print the picture on photo paper, and cut it to fit your plane’s cockpit. Paint the edges with a flat color that matches the background, drop your pilot in, and you’re all set.



Straightedge rulers tend to slide when you run a knife along them to strip balsa or make cuts in covering. To help guide your blade with more authority, try using an office supply cork-backed stainless steel ruler. The cork will grip slippery surfaces and create a straight cut on your balsa or covering. The cool thing is that the ruler will flex and follow the contour of a wing or fuselages. The cork-backed ruler can also be used for making panel lines one your plane because of its flexibility and straight edge.



Applying individual letters and number can be tedious. One way to make it easier is to first lay down a strip of low-tack masking tape (a little longer than what you need), sticky side up. Remove the figures one at a time from their backing and lay on the tape. Use one edge of the masking tape to keep them aligned straight so all you have to worry about is the spacing between letters. Apply the masking tape in place on the model and use your fingers to apply pressure to the letters or numbers in order to stick them down on the surface. Then, just remove the masking tape.



Keeping track of your hex wrenches or ball drivers can sometimes be a headache. You can spend some time looking for the size you need, and how would you know if one was missing? Take a short length of 2×4 and drill holes large enough to stand each driver or wrench in it. Now you can easily find the one I need, and if any are missing, you’ll know right away.

Updated: November 21, 2016 — 12:00 PM
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Add a Comment
  1. I like the hex or Allen wrench holder

  2. You must be watching the build on this. Great idea for the letters. I have a short, AMA8855, number that’s not an issue
    but then again that and the FAA becomes a burden.

  3. I’ve not only did this for Allen wrenches, but did the same for all my screw drivers & nut drivers-mounted to the wall above my work table keeps the table clear for more aircraft parts

  4. The rubber backing on the canopy screw or anything that can be damaged by tightening the bolts enough to stay secure on our vibrating models is a excellent idea. Why didn’t I think of that.

  5. Or, just buy a complete set of hex wrenches, which come with a holder that keeps them all together. I have both metric and USA sets. Also, food wrap such as Glad or Saran work very well for covering plans, and CA does not stick.

  6. Great idea with the credit card and covering film!!! Thanks!!

  7. I detest the tiny size of pictures of how make jigs such as the wing rack

  8. flyoz,

    I agree. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of the tiny picture depicting the rack.

  9. Sorry Guys, but I have to agree that the “Hanging Rack For Your Wings” was incomprehensible.
    Apologies for making a negative comment. I enjoyed the other tips and hints.

    1. I kinda felt the same way reading it.

  10. That hanging rack sounds like a great idea, but I’ll be darned if I can figure out the instructions, let alone visualize it from that tiny jpg! Please enlighten us!!!

  11. The best plan protector material is parchment paper nothing sticks to it and it does not stick to your work.

  12. I built a rack for the back of my suv out of pvc pipe and insulating foam that hooks to the coat hooks for the back seat with parachute cord and has two legs at the tail gate. It will carry three wings and the fuselages go underneath.

  13. Hitting Control + will make your page larger, and you can see the picture of the wing racks a little better…

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