Tools for homebuilding aircraft

Guidelines for the tools you will need, based on construction technique

The right tools for the job will help a project progress quickly, and create the best possible build quality – essential for any flying machine.

The exact tools required depend upon the type of aircraft being built and whether you are building from a kit or plan based. If using a kit, the amount of work that has been completed by the kit manufacturer will in part determine the tools you need.

As a guideline (not a complete list), useful tools for each construction technique are shown – most can be purchased at any good tool store, but some are special aviation tools, obtainable from aircraft parts suppliers or kit vendors.

Tools for wooden construction aircraft

  • Bandsaw
  • Belt sander
  • Bench or table saw
  • G or F Clamps (as many as possible – plus a few more!)
  • Jig Saw
  • Measuring, marking and levelling tools.
  • Router
  • Sandpaper – lots of it, in various grades
  • Staple Gun and Plastic Packaging strap 

Tools for steel tube construction aircraft

  • Angle Grinder
  • Magnetic welding clamps
  • Oxy Acetylene Plant (for stress relieving components after welding)
  • Tig Welding plant
  • Tube notching Jig (cuts radius' on end of tubes)
  • Various files etc 

 Tools for alloy stress skin construction aircraft

  • Cans of etch primer
  • Cleco pliers
  • Cleco temporary fasteners, various sizes
    (as many as possible – plus a few more!)
  • Deburring tools
  • G or F Clamps (as many as possible – plus a few more!)
  • Hydraulic press (required for some kits)
  • Large marking – out table.
  • Pneumatic air hammer and bucking bars (for solid rivets)
  • Pneumatic drill
  • Right angle drive drill
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Sheetmetal folder 
  • Solid rivet squeezer
  • Tin Snips (top quality)
  • Various files etc 

 Tools for composite construction aircraft

  • Cut off saw
  • Fibreglass rollers and brushes
  • Resin measuring tools
  • Respirator and dust mask
  • Sander and abrasive discs
  • Scissors or other fabric cutting tools 

Tools for fabric covering (aircraft of wood or metal structure)

  • Fabric Scissors – straight and zig-zag
  • Glue brushes
  • Iron
  • Needles and thread (Rib stitching and seams)
  • Sandpaper (dependant on system used)
  • Thermometer to calibrate iron 


Tools common to all types

  • Air compressor
  • Air duster and cleaning brush
  • Camera for recording progress
  • Cordless drills (get several!)
  • Drill press
  • Engine hoist / chain block
  • Extra portable lights
  • Good quality screwdrivers
  • Jacks, trestles or stands
  • Lock wire pliers
  • Measuring, marking and levelling tools.
  • Spanners and sockets for installing fittings (normally SAE)
  • Spray painting gun