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Recomended Tools Of The Trade  
User currently offlineVS340 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3467 times:

Im currently in school learning the Aircraft Skin and Structural trade, and im starting to acquire the necessary tools needed for this trade. i was just wondering what sort of recomendations any of the more experienced maintenance technicians would have.

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offline737doctor From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 1332 posts, RR: 35
Reply 1, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3344 times:

Hey there,

I'm more of a Avionics guy, but I work in Heavy MX (Structures) and have been known to shoot a rivet or two.

Here is what I would recommend:

1/4" chuck pneumatic palm drill (something small and lightweight to reduce fatigue) with:
Threaded drill extensions (makes changing bits so much easier) and a
Swivel air chuck (so you don't have to fight your air hose)

A 90 degree drill may cost a lot, but they are definitely worth the money. They will allow you to get into a variety of places that a regular drill won't.

3X rivet gun (for general purposes)
4X rivet gun (something with a little more kick)
Make sure that whatever rivet guns you have, they have a "teasing trigger" and a good regulator so you'll have better control.

A wide assortment of bucking bars. There are some standard types as well as specialty ones. Finding the right one is largely trial and error. If you can find a tungsten steel bar, they rock...they will buck a rivet in just a few taps. Also a big flat pancake bar is great for working at a bench or table.

90 degree die grinder (a must have). A pencil die grinder is handy if you can afford one, but not necessary.

Pneumatic screw guns are great and vary in price. Find a lightweight one.

1/4" air ratchets are great for installing hi-lok fasteners. These like all air tools vary widely in price. Also look into a hi-lok ratchet (the manual kind). Gear wrenches and dog bones are excellent for hi-loks too.

You'll need plenty of microstops for countersinking.

Cleco pliers are a must as are decent scales (6" and 12").

Hole finders are a little expensive (I think I spent $50 for my set, but they sure can make things easier).

I also recommend a hand pop-riveter, the pneumatic types are pricey and depending on where you work, there should be one available.

Also depending on where you work, things like rivet sets, nutplate jigs, drill bits, countersinks, arbors, cut-off wheels, reamers, clecos, etc are often in freestock and probably aren't worth spending a lot of money to obtain.

Air vacs and sealant guns are handy and don't cost a lot.

When you really get into it, you can buy things like "C" squeezes, rivet shavers and cleco runners, but for someone starting out, it's not necessary.

I could go on and on, but I have to go pick up my kids from the airport. If I think of more, I'll add it later.

Merry Christmas

Patrick Bateman is my hero.
User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30414 posts, RR: 57
Reply 2, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 3303 times:

VS340, here is a list I copied from a book titled "Aviation Mechanics Simplified" It was the list of tools that United Airlines required it's new mechanic apprentices to have on hand at time of hire.

It should work for about 90% of the tools you will need. Which when you consider that the book I took it from came out in 1943, shows how important new technology actually is in aviation.

Anyway here is the list.

Screwdriver 4 inch blade, pryalin
Screwdriver 6 inch blade, pryalin
Screwdriver 10 inch blade, pryalin
Screwdriver, offset, medium size
Hammer Ball peen 2 or 3 oz
Hammer, Ball peen 12 oz
1 Mallet, pyalin or equivelent, medium size-Radio shop apprentinces excepted
Scale flexible, 6 inch, steel
Hacksaw frame 8-12 inch blade capacity
Pliers regular
Pliers diagonal cutting
Pliers Long Nose
Snapper, Machine Screw
Center punch, 4-in
Chisel, Cold, 3/8th inch
Set pin punches, small sizes
Set open end wrenches 3/8 to 1 inch
Box wrench 3/16 by 3/8
Box wrench 3/8 by 7/16-Radio Shop apprentices excepted
Box wrench 7/16 by 1/2-Radio Shop apprentices excepted
Set socket wrenches 3/8 drive 3/8 to 7/8 inches by sixteens, including speeder, ratchet universal, extensions ect-Radion Shop apprentices excepted
Ratchet, 7 inch handle, 1/2 drive-radion and instrument shop apprentices excepted
Universal 1/2 inch-radio and instrument shop apprentices excepted
Set midget socket wrenches, 3/16 to 7/16 by sixteenths
File 4 inch flat mill
File 8 inch vixen
1 each drill bit 21, 30, 40, high speed-radio shop apprentices excepted
Flashlight 2 cell vapor proof AA standard
Flishlight pen type (optional)
Hand drill 1/4 maximum chuck size
Crecent Wrench 6 inch
Straight tin snips, medium size-radio shop apprentices excepted
Dutch snips, left hand,when assigned to aiplane overhaul-radio and instument apprentices excepted
Dutch snips, right hand, when assigned to airplane overhaul-radio and instrument apprentices excepted
File Handle
Putty Knife
Jack Knife
Thickness Guage, .0015 to .025 inches
Thickness Guage, .010 to .075 in, Wright Aero Corp. (Radio and Instrument shop apprentices excepted)
toolbox adequate size
8 screwdrivers, Jewelers, A.B.D.(instrument shop apprentices only)
Extension, 1/2 inch drive by 6 inches.(Radio instrument shop apprentices excepted)
Socket, Deep 6 point, spark plug, applicable size (Radio and instrument shop apprentices excepted)
Eye Loop 2 in focus(Instrument shop appretices only)
Hand puller, Shop-made(Instrument shop only)
Staking tool, Shop-made(Insturment shop only)
Suction cup 2 inch (Instrument shop only)
Suction cup 1 inch (Instrument shop only)
Screwdriver, midget 2 1/4 inch blade, pyralin (radio shop only)
Pliers, midget utility(radio shop only)
tweezers 3C (instrument shop only)
Open end wrench 1/4 by 5/16 (Radio shop only)
Set wrenches, spin type 1/4 to 1/2 inch by sixteenths(radio shop apprentices only)
Flie 6 inch round mill(Radio shop only)
File 10 inch half round bastard (Radio Shop only)
Set drills 60 to 1 inclusive high speed (Radio Shop only)
Soldering Iron (Radio Shop only)

After a year you where requred
Scale 26 inch flexible steel
Tap wrench T handle
Center punch Automatic
Punch aligning 1/8 to 1/2 by 8 inch
Taper drift punches, medium size
Cold Chisel, Large
Cape Chisel, medium
Diamond chisel, medium
set of allen wrenches
Crecent wrench 10 to 12 inches
Box wrench 1/2 by 9/16 inch
Set combination square, 12 scale, level, protractor, center head and square head
pair inside calipers, medium size
Micrometer 0 to 1 inch
combination, fine and coarse india stones
Tap and drill guage
Dental mirror
cable splicing vice
cable splicing spike
Screw pitch guage (optional)
Set socket wrenches 3/8 to 1 in by sixteenths, 1/2 inch drive, complete with speeder, universal and hinge handle
1 each 7/16, 1/2, 9/16 and 5/8 12 pt universal sockets 3/8 inch drive
1 each 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2 deep sockets 3/8th inch drive 12 point (optional)
6-32 and 10-24 taps
4 two inch C clamps
2 three inch C clamps

User currently offlineVS340 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 3285 times:

Thanks guys

Much appreciated

User currently offlineN6376m From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3259 times:

Wow! I never would have thought that a mechanic would have to buy his own tools. What does the basic kit cost?


User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30414 posts, RR: 57
Reply 5, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3258 times:

Depends on where you buy them N6376...

Some of those Snap-On Cabinents run into five figures.

And I know guys that have six figure insurance policies on their tools.

User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14968 posts, RR: 61
Reply 6, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3246 times:

Depends also if you are going to work at a permanent station or if you are going to go contracting. If you´ll have to fly often you´ll try to keep your toolkit small to prevent from having to pay excess baggage fees.
In Europe in many countries the company has to provide the tools due to better accountability. I would leave out any tools which are aircraft specific or would need to be calibrated. You´ll get them usualy in the tool crib.
For me a basic set would be:
1 set of straight edge screwdrivers 2mm - 12 mm edge
Phillips 1, 2 and 3
Phillips 1 and 2 carburetor (short and stubby)
Straight edge screwdriver 8 mm stubby
Angled screwdriver straight edge 8mm
Angled screwdriver Phillips 1 and 2
Bitholder screwdriver (Snap-on makes the best)
Set of combination wrenches AF 3/16 to 1 1/4 inches
Set of openend wrenches AF 1/4 to 1 1/4 inches
1/4 drive ratchet
extensions 1/4 drive 2", 3", 4"
sockets 1/4 drive 3/16 to 9/16" short
sockets 1/4 drive 3/16 to 9/16" deep
universal joint 1/4 drive
bitholder 1/4 drive
Breaker bar 1/4 drive
ratchet 3/8 drive
extensions 3/8 drive 3", 6"
sockets 3/8 drive 1/2" to 1"
sockets 3/8 drive 1/2 to 1" deep
universal joint
ratchet 1/2 drive
extension 1/2 drive 6"
universal joint 1/2 drive
sockets 1/2 drive 7/8 to 1 1/4 deep
adapter 1/4 drive to 3/8 drive
adapter 3/8 drive to 1/2 drive
reducer 3/8 drive to 1/4 drive
reducer 1/2 drive to 3/8 drive
Breaker bar 3/8 drive
Breaker bar 1/2 drive
Adjustable wrench 1" opening
adjustable wrench 9/16" opening
Center punch
Hack saw
Hammer, ball peen 1 lb
Hammer, cross peen 1/2 lb
Mallet, rubber /plastic
set of punches
aluminium drift 3/4" dia
aluminium drift 1/2" dia
straight edge, 12"
File, half round, 6"
File flat 6"
Set of needle files
Vice grip pliers
Needle nose pliers
Diagonal cutters
Combination pliers
Water pump pliers
Pliers for electrical connectors
Wire locking pliers
Allen key set
Tap handle (ratcheting type)
Ratcheting box wrenches 1/4" - 7/8"

For sheet metal and compositesI would add:
Air drill
die grinder, 90 degree and straight
90 degree airdrill for threaded drill bit
or with collets (there is a good British make (Desoutter) you can gring down ordinary drill bits. it takes very little space)
3X rivet gun with regulator
standard AN 470 snaps
Flush rivet snap
basic set of bucking bars (often the tool crib has special bucking bars around)
Microstop holder 9/16 dia (cutters are usualy supplied by company)
1/4 drive air ratchet
Cleco pliers
Clecos in standard sizes
Aviation shears, 1 set
File, round
Straight edge 6"
automatic center punch
Spray gun
Pop riveting pliers

Torque wrenches, crimping tools and bigger tools are usually supplied
Even so your toolbox will be quite heavy.
I got myself a toolcase for my basic tools from Chicago cases made of high impct plastic with wheels and a pulling handle in case I´ve got to fly to some outstation to fix an AOG plane. The interior has been modified by myself. It can be loaded without problems as baggage or cargo.
For my sheet metal tools I´ve got an extra metal box.



Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14968 posts, RR: 61
Reply 7, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3239 times:

I forgot to add something to the sheet metal tool list:

Square, 4" x 3" approx.


Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
User currently offlineChief From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3225 times:

If you ever have some spare time in Seattle, cab over to Boeing Surplus in Kent. It's ten minutes from SeaTac. Over the years I've accumulated a multitude of sheet metal tools.

They restock every Monday so Tuesday AM is the best. I've heard Boeing does the same thing in KC and LA.

Good luck

User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30414 posts, RR: 57
Reply 9, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3190 times:

Don't worry about getting any instrument that needs calibration, short of a multimeter.

Because of the calibration requirement, torque wrenches generally are supplied by the tool crib.

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