Tools - Updated on October 3, 2007

I try to keep updating this page as I purchase new tools that another builder might be interested in. So keep checking back.

Here is a list of most of the tools I have either purchased for the project or already had. I always like looking over the tool section of other builders web sites. It seams a lot of builders have a problem buying tools and go overboard. I am no exception. Hey, anytime you have an excuse to buy a tool you might as well use it. Since I am starting out building this kit with pretty much no sheet metal experience, I needed to purchase almost everything right up front. At first I was going to scrounge around and piece together my own kit based on what other builders were doing and what Van's recommends. After about two weeks of starring at ebay and looking at tools catalogs, my patience (or lack thereof) got the best of me. I decided to purchase a complete RV tool kit. The problem was which one.

If you ask around about which tool kit to purchase, you will almost undoubtedly get the answer "Avery". So that's where I started. I ended up doing an extensive comparison of the Avery and Isham tool kits and found they are almost identical. I break down what I found from the tool kits I looked at. This is not an endorsement of any company. Just my personal findings.

Avery Kit -
Pros: This is a very complete kit. Customer service with Avery is A+. They always exceed your expectations. Be prepared to get a nice phone call or email after you order saying they were able to save you some money somewhere or ship it quicker.

Cons: None really. It is priced well. The only thing I had was I was going to need to make a few substitutions as I wanted the DRDT-2 and a pneumatic squeezer. Once I added these items the cost of the kit (expectedly) went up a few hundred dollars.

Isham Kit -
Pros: Complete kit. Customer service is A+. When I called, I received a call back right away. They answered all of my questions and gave me a quick lesson in riveting and setting up my tools. The kit was shipped that day and arrived before I expected. They even threw in several items for free. The kit comes with a printed how to guide that describes how to set up and use each tool. The kit has high quality components. The Isham kit includes the DRDT-2 and pneumatic squeezer and was still about $500 cheaper than Avery!! I am glad I did business with the people over at Isham. He stands behind his tools and will replace them no questions asked if you have a problem.

Cons: No back riveting plate was include. I ended up ordering one from Avery.

Aircraft Spruce
Pros: Aircraft Spruce generally is a great company to deal with. This was the first tool kit I looked at.

Cons: I don't know anyone who has purchased this kit. The cost seems a little higher than some of the others.

Pros: I hear their rivet guns are great. I really like the colors.

Cons: This kit does not seem to be as complete as some of the others. But if you already have the other tools then...

Cleavland Tools
Pros: Cleavland sells high quality tools.

Cons: Their RV kit is not as complete as some of the others. I was starting out with nothing so i needed a very complete kit. I think you would pay more putting together a Cleaveland kit piece by piece.

RV Tool Set Top

Here is a couple shots of the entire tool kit I got from Isham. I couldn't wait to open my box of goodies and spread them all out. I was still trying to finish up my EAA work tables during this time. As you can see, it is a very complete kit. Each component was individually bagged and sealed with a tag describing the tool and the part number. I removed many of the bags by the time I snapped this picture.

This is another shot of the tool kit. Woot!

DRDT-2 Top

Ok, this is one of my favorite tools beside the drill below. I first saw this dimpler at a fellow builders shop a few weeks ago. This thing is awesome! It is very quiet and will come in handy working those late nights when I am trying not to be noisy. It is definitely worth the extra few bucks for this dimpler. The quality of the construction is bulletproof and it has a nice powder coat. I had to put it together and align the ram but it only took about 15 minutes. I can't wait to start dimpling using this thing.

Air Drill Top

My other favorite tool. I was really on the fence when it came to spending a lot of money on a air drill. After all a drill is a drill right? Wrong. I was planning on just buying a cheapo from Home Depot or Harbor Freight but at the last minute decided to go for it. When I opened up the box and grabbed this thing, it perfectly fits into your hand and is very light weight. This drill is also very quiet compared to some others I have seen. Other builders have commented on how quiet it is. Isham threw in the keyless chuck and swivel air adaptor.

Drill Bits Top

This is a bunch of drill bits and punches that were included in my kit. Isham ships standard #20 and #40 6" aircraft drill bit in his kit. They claim you have better control with the longer 6" bit and can "walk" the bit easier when drilling. Since I am a new at this metal construction thing, I don't have a comment on that as of now. The step drill is used to make smoother holes larger that 1/4" in aluminum. The drill stops will also come in handy.

Countersinking and Debur Tools Top

A nice ball bearing counter sink plunger and cutters where included. The quick tools accepts the cutter bits and can be used for deburing which seams scary to me but we'll se if it is useful.

Rivet Gun Top

The 3X rivet gun show here with the swivel air adaptor attached. It is a knock off like a lot of the other guns on the market today. It seems to be built well and has a great teasing trigger.

Pneumatic Squeezer Top

This one is in close running to being my favorite tool. I wanted one of these from the beginning because had squeezing all those rivets sounds like a case for carpal tunnel. The Isham kit was the only one I found that comes with a pneumatic squeezer. I did not purchase a hand squeezer because I figured you don't need both. It has the adjustable set holder which is a great time saver. I got the quick change pins but ended up not using them because there is a little slop in the C-Frame when they are in. The nuts and bolt really don't take that ling to change and don't need to be really tightened. It is your standard CP-214 style squeezer.

Thin Nose C Yoke Top

At the advise of several builders and Sean, I ordered a Thin Nose C Yoke in addition to the standard kit. No matter where you look, these things always seem to be expensive but what do you do?

Squeezer Parts Top

Just some extra stuff that came with the squeezer. THe standard non adjustable set holder, grease and quick change pins.

Dimple and Squeezer Sets Top

The set kit came with a nice oak holder and includes all the sets you will ever need to complete the RV-7.

Bucking/Rivet Sets Top

This is your standard assortment of bucking bars and rivet sets. It included two springs, one for the normal sets and one for the flush set. Also pictured are the back rivet set and rivet gauges. I ended up polishing some of the rough edges of some of the bucking bars.

Pop Riveting Top

This thing is a monster. The RV doesn't contain very many blind or pop rivets but this puller will come in handy when the time comes. Stanley made.

Sheet Metal Snips Top

Straight, Left and Right snipes made by Klein tools. Included in the Isham kit.

Hand Seamer and Rivet Cutter Top

Hand seamer for making small bends in sheet metal and a rivet cutter for make long rivets short!

Fluting Tools Top

Clecos Top


Bench Vise Top
Where: Harbor Freight

Bench Grinder Top
Where: Harbor Freight

Scotch-Brite Wheel Top

Air Compressor Top
Where: Lowes

This is the new compressor I purchased. I was not happy with my last one so I researched the options and bought this one. Read about it on my compressor page.

Mini Air Hose, Back Rivet Plate, Debur Tool, Edge Roller Top
Where: Avery

I recently ordered this mini air hose from Avery. I love it. It allows for much greater movement of you tool and it is extremely lightweight. I ended up removing the swivel adaptor from the rivet gun and air drill because it wasn't needed with this hose. The deburring tool goes into my handheld battery operated screw driver. It works like a champ.

Drill Press Top
Where: Sears

I picked up this 10" drill press on sale at Sear for around $89 bucks. I think it will do the job nicely.

Band Saw Top
Where: Sears

I looked all over for a band saw. I ended up going with one from Sears when I bought my drill press.

Shop Vac Top
Where: Already had

A shop vac is a must if you expect to keep anything clean. This sucker will pick up all those metal filings and keep you from tracking them into the house.

Floor SweeperTop
Where: This one I stole 'er borrowed from my wife

This is a handy thing to have in the garage. It is a rechargeable sweeper that easily picks up those little aluminum filings from the floor. It does not suck air but rather has rotating brushes inside that do a good job. I usually run this across the floor after a build session.

Tool Chest Top
Where: Already had from Sears

I bought this a couple years ago to put my tools in before I bought an RV. I am glad I did. All I had to do was clean it out and make room for all my new metal aircraft tools! The socket set was not happy.

Torque Wrench - July 21st, 2007
Where: Sears

You will first need a torque wrench when you do the final assembly on the HS. It requires a wrench with in/lbs. I originally bought one from Harbor Freight. I migh as well have thrown my money in the toilet. It was a major POS and I ended up stripping the bolts becuase the wrench did not work properly. I returned it and bought this one from Sears. It was about $70 and works much better.

Dremel Tool - July 22nd, 2007
Where: Home Depot

I picked up this tool on sale one day when I was shopping for something else. It came in real handy when I had to saw off the AN bolts that I stripped on the HS spar. It will also come in handy for cutting fiberglass and small pieces of aluminum that need grinding or cutting.

Air Grinder - October 1st, 2007
Where: Harbor Freight

A while back I purchased a 3M deburring wheel from Avery. I just now got around to buying an air grinder to use it with. I picked this baby up at Harbor Freight for $9. This sucker is loud! It is by far the loudest air tool in my collection. But what do you expect for $9.


Longeron Yoke - October 1st, 2007

This is one of those tools that I wish I would have bought sooner. These things seem expensive for a piece of metal. I was trying to save the money until the fuselage. After all it is a longeron yoke right? Well, that is true but this thing comes in handy for all kinds of things on the tail kit and wings. There are just some rivets that you cannot reach any other way. I first borrowed a lingeron yoke from another builder when I was riveting the rudder control horn in place. After I used it, I ordered my own the next day. If you can spend the extra $$ it is well worth it to buy this tool upfront. It will come in handy.

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