RC Airplane Tips & Tricks

RC Airplane Tips & Tricks

You know what we’re grateful for this Thanksgiving? Hints and tips from the best readers around! Here’s hoping you are able to spend some time in the workshop this holiday weekend and can put a few of these tips to use!


Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | RC Airplane Tips & Tricks

Hinges work better when the slots are right in the middle of the trailing edges of the control surfaces, but it’s sometimes tough to cut through the wing-sheeting glue joint to get them perfectly centered. An easy way to slice through the dried glue is to heat an old hobby-knife blade with a propane or fireplace lighter. The hot blade will melt the glue enough to allow you to easily cut your hinge slots. If you need to slot solid wood, turn the blade around and use the thick end to burn through the wood. If you moisten the wood with some water, the blade’s heat will burn only where it directly contacts the wood; otherwise, it may scorch the surrounding wood.



Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | RC Airplane Tips & Tricks

Make a long-reach, slim-handle screwdriver to access those hard-to-reach screws inside your model. Take some 5/16-inch-o.d., 1/32-inch-thick brass tube of a length suitable for your needs and insert a 1/4-inch hex-driver tip into the tube end. A no. 1 Phillips screwdriver tip is the most useful, but larger sizes, flat-blade screwdrivers, hex drivers and Torx tips can all be used. Add a short length of 1/4-inch-i.d. fuel tubing on the end to hold your screw while you position the driver inside the model and then drive the screw. The fuel tubing will release the screw as it bites into the wood.



Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | RC Airplane Tips & Tricks

If you need to pin something to your building board but the head of the pin prevents it from fitting tightly against an adjacent surface, try this. With Z-bend pliers, bend your pin to offset the head. With the pin bent this way, it can be inserted through the wood and straight down into the building board, even if it has to sit flush against a vertical section.


Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | RC Airplane Tips & Tricks

Little parts such as screws, pins, etc. can be difficult to retrieve one at a time from containers, and if you fish around with your fingers, you sometimes find the sharp end first—ouch! Next time, cut a strip from a flexible refrigerator magnet to fit into the container. The magnet will collect the parts from the bottom of the container, making it easy for you to retrieve whichever part you need quickly and easily.


  1. Re: The heated hinge slotter.
    A hot knife does that job smoothly and is a versatile tool for other modeling jobs, particularly for repairs. It will cut nicely through all types of glue joints, and allow the wood to separate neatly. As the shop teacher always said “proceed slowly and let the tool do the work”. Hot knives are similar to the old wood burning tools some of us used as kids. They cost around $25 and are about 25 watts. Number 11 Xacto blades fit them and they don’t have to be kept real sharp.

  2. Great build tricks. Thanks for posting.

  3. nice reminder … time to stock up on an assortment of fuel line …

  4. Ooohh… I really like that one about flush pins. Nice to see some tips that I have’t already been using for years!!

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