Since the question comes up quite often of what tools I’m using to build the plane, I’ve decided to compile a list of all the tools.

The Airplane Factory has a rough list of tools in their introduction manual, but it doesn’t quite quantify whether you really need a specific tool. So I will keep this list to the tools that I am actually using in my build and also try to specify how or when I use it, or for some things like clecos, how many I’ve realistically needed.


ToolCommentBlog reference
Milwaukee M12 DrillA good quality drill, plus using the M12 system, the batteries are interchangable with the Rivet gun
Milwaukee M12 Rivet GunThis is my main rivet gun, all electric and quiet.First use

Pull out mandrels when riveting 3.2mm and smaller
Hand rivet pullerSometimes space is tight and you need to use a hand rivet puller
Rivnut pullerDrill attachement to pull rivnutsDrilling Guide
Step drill bitsUsed to enlarge holes for things like electrical wiringStep drill bit use
Center PunchHelpful to mark metal to drill holes, as well as to push out broken rivets if you need to drill one out.Use center punch to drill out rivets
Ratcheting hand screw driverHaving both a large and small hand screwdriver for tight spaces
Microstop Countersink toolTool to countersink holesDrilling Guide
120 degree countersink pilot cutterPilot cutter for pulled rivetsDrilling Guide
Digital CaliperMeasuring hole sizes
Utility KniveLots of cutting
DremelVarious cutting.
You *may get away without this and use manual tools instead, but it will be handy to have
Heat gunUsed for electrical wiring like shrink wrap tubing
Deburring toolDeburring holes after drilling
Set of filesDeburring and filing down things
Hand ReamerTo enlarge holes manuallyHand Reamer usage
#12 Reamer drill bitTo ream out 2.4 mm rivet holesDrilling Guide
#21 Reamer drill bitTo ream out 3.2 mm rivet holesDrilling Guide
#30 Reamer drill bitTo ream out 4 mm rivet holesDrilling Guide
#40 Reamer drill bitTo ream out 4.8 mm rivet holesDrilling Guide
Quality Drill bit setDrilling holes
Wifi EndoscopeVery useful to check out the inside of parts before riveting
Ratcheting Wrench Set, SAE & MetricTightening bolts
1/4 inch Torque wrenchTo proper torque bolts
1/4 in Socket setTorquing bolts
Digital LevelTo align parts
Soldering IronElectrical connections
Safety GlassesYou only have one set of eyes, protect them
Aviation SnipsTo cut sheet metal
Needle nose pliersFine pliers
Safety Wire PliersTo pull safety wires
KNIPEX PliersAdjusts in size to hold bolts
Torque Lock Jaw PliersFor when you really need to hold something tight
Duckbill PliersThis was a tip from my Technical Counselor and has come in handy a few times already to reach and holding down things in otherwise impossible to reach areas
Olfa KnifeScoring/Cutting sheet metalOlfa Knife
Caulking GunTo apply silicone and glueSilicone use
Side cutterCutting electrical wire
Automatic Wire stripperUse this and not a cheap wire stripper
Coax Wire stripperFor stripping Coax (Antenna) wireCoax wire stripper
Pro's Kit Ratcheting Crimping toolFor proper crimping
BNC Crimping DieFor crimping BNC connectors to Coax wire
HammerGeneral purpose Hammer
Ruler (metric & inches)Measuring
Tape MeasureMeasuring
Trigger ClampsTo temporary hold parts in place
Spring ClampsTemporary holding parts
Pipe flaring toolTo flare pitot tube pipe
Self leveling Laser LevelAlignment of various completed parts
Bench viseHolding parts for drilling or sanding down
Nylon Vise JawsTo protect pieces held in the bench vise
Hand Rivet SqueezerFor dimpling & squeezing solid rivets
120 degree dimple pullerFor dimpling tight spaces using a hand rivet pullerHand Dimpler usage
Magnetic pickup toolFor that inevitable time you drop a bolt inside
* Brady Label MakerLabeling Wiring.
If not using a label maker, still make sure to use some other good means of labeling wires
Nibbler cutting toolTo make larger, circular cuts.Cutting Pitot inspection panel hole
Rattle-can spray toolThis makes priming with rattle cans much easierr

Items marked with * may be optional, everything else, I’d consider essential.


SupplyCommentBlog reference
3/32" - 2.4mm cleco (silver)Very little use in the Sling build. 25 are enough.
1/8" - 3.2mm cleco (copper)This is the most used rivet size.
For the quickbuild, 300 was the right number (The Elevator being the largest part to build). If you build from scratch you may need more.
5/32" - 4mm cleco (black)Second most used rivet size, ~75
3/16" - 4.8mm cleco (gold)Used mainly for the main spars, ~25
Simple Green Aircraft Extreme cleanerAirplane metal friendly cleanerPriming Prep
Scotch Brite padsUsed to prepare parts for primingPriming Prep
MEKSolvent to clean partsPriming Prep
Respirator MaskFor breathing while using chemicals like MEK
Microfiber clothsCleaning/wiping
Loctite Red 277Used to help fasten Rivnuts and permanent bolts
Loctite Blue 243Used to help fasten bolts
Sanding disksSanding edges and corners
GE5050 Metal SiliconeUsed in the Horizontal StabilizerSilicone use
Safety WireTo safety things
Masking tapeMarking out things
Pipe insulationTo protect various sharp edges while working
Waxed Lacing wireMuch cleaner than using zip ties
Snap BushingsInstead of Rubber grommets, last much longer
SandpaperSanding down sharp edges

List of shops

Aircraft SpruceSpare parts like bolts, extra sheet metal and some airplane specific chemicals
Aircraft Tool SupplyA lot of Aircraft building specific tools are made by ATS
Amazon.comA surprisingly large amount of tools can be bought conveniently directly from Amazon
Bolt DepotLarge selection of Metric screws and bolts, which are widely used in the Sling Kit
Home DepotHome Depot is handy for picking up some tools if you can't wait for online shipping
Stein AirStein Air has most things for Electrical Wiring
Wicks Aircraft SupplySome specialty Tools can be bought from Wicks

3 thoughts on “Tools

  1. Pingback: Walkthrough of my workshop - Philip's Sling TSi Build Log

  2. Gary Oxley

    Hi Phillip,
    Do you need any additional mandrels when you order the Astro Pneumatic Tool ADN14 Rivet Nut Drill Adapter Kit you list in your tool suggestions?

    1. Philip Rueker Post author

      No, the kit has all the mandrels needed to build the Sling. Most of them are M3-M5.


Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.