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  1. #1

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    Beginner Build - tools question

    Hey guys;

    I've been poking around this kit building forum reviewing alot of these posts for some ideas of what kind of tools a beginning builder would need, and from the many posts here, I've seen so many cool looking tools and ideas, that quite frankly, I'm a bit overwhelmed as far as what to start with. here's the situation:

    I'm a first time builder, and have little to no tools or experience in this area, but very excited to try my hand at this. I also have a very limited budget with which to purchase tools, supplies, or anything else I need and I have no clue as to which tools I need at a minimum to get me started with my first kit. I've already acquired a hollow core door to use as my building table, and I do have some #11 blades and several CA bottles as well, and I do have several small plastic clips/clamps from harbor freight that I've used with putting my arf's together with.

    Aside from what I have listed, for the very newbie beginning builder, what basic tools should I get that will help me with my first actual kit build project? For what its worth, I do have an Tower Hobbies Uproar kit that most likely will be the first kit I put together, but I wanted to be sure I have the basics on hand before I start this kit. I also have a PT-25 autogyro kit as well that I am hoping to get put together during this building season, but that most likely will wait until after the Uproar is built.

    As far as space available, the building room that my wife has graciously allowed me to have is a basement room thats 12'x24', but I do have alot of storage boxes in this room as well, so my actual building space is about 8' x 12' or somewhere along those lines, so I know a table saw is kinda outta the question at this point.......

    Thanks for any and all advice on this, and hoping to get started on my building here fairly soon...

    dax
    Remember: What goes up MUST come down. How it comes down is purely up to you.....

  2. #2

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    think along the lines of doing fine carpentry work... working with balsa is great as its easy to modify shapes without wearing the arms out..lol.
    start collecting all parts and accessories related to building small things..I have four toolboxes from home depot that carries my field stuff..my table is pretty simple from 4 x 6 3/4" ply..I used doors alot too but i gotta have a straight table since I scratch build alot.. dont forget the usual stuff like monoktote iron and heat gun..the key to clean work is fresh blades..I can go thru 6 to 8 blades easy... i use surgical handles and # 11, #10 and #15 blades depending on the project...keep gloves handy always..I double glove when doing resin and gorrila glue work so that when set i remove the out side and clean gloves again. plenty grades of sandpaper..sanding blocks a must as soft blocks as well. old or similar credit cards for spreading resin...I ask all my friends for the used phone cards just for that. anyways as time goes on you'll collect so much that it'll all come in handy. hide all unbuilt kits close to the ceiling and destroy all reciepts..my local hobby store doesn't even give me mine anymore..LOL....bring things home in small bags and you're good to go...I'm married too.....but most of all , enjoy each build and fly each plane till you gotta make another one....


    SLOPE FAST - SOAR DEEP

    guamflyer
    guamflyer P-40 Bro #5 guamflyer\'\'s Dad #6
    SLOPE FAST - SOAR DEEP

  3. #3
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    I find I use a razor saw a lot
    right angles, probably 4 or more, for when you are glueing formers.
    Pack or two of t pins
    I cut small ply rectangles and glue sandpaper to them and glue a sq strip on the back for a handle.
    Mini mitre box, they are good but not really req'd

    I recently learned about this kit for new builders, which is great for building techniques http://shop.balsausa.com/product_p/426.htm
    Balsa USA brother #1
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    Sig brother 104
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    Mark

  4. #4
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    An x-acto knife, razor saw,a few clamps and a few dozen pins should get you started. After that, purchase what you need, as the need arises. No need to buy tools that you may, or may not, need.

    By the way, I've been building since the late 50's, and I don't have a table saw.
    Tom C

    Sig Brotherhood # 120

  5. #5
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    You really don't much to start and you can collect over time. Of course you will need a set of t-pins from your LHS (Local Hobby Shop). You will also need an X-Acto style razor saw to cut balsa strips to length. A fine point Sharpie or other felt tip pen for marking will come in handy (a pencil will dent soft balsa). Sandpaper is also a must have. You can pick up rolls of adhesive backed sandpaper at your LHS in various grits. You can also buy straight aluminum sanding bars there too, or if you are like me and you have lots of scrap wood hanging around from household projects, you can just make your own.

    I find a 12" combination square to be very handy. You can pick one up at a local hardware store for under $15. It gives you a good steel ruler and and a 90 deg block for ensuring parts are set square. While you're there, also pick up a thin 36" steel ruler - more accurate than a tape measure and very useful for checking straight and true. A bag of wooden spring style clothespins makes for a set of handy (and cheap) clamps.

    In addition to CA, pick up some Titebond II wood glue at your local hardware store. You'll find that the slower cure time can be a real advantage in some cases (and it is stronger and lighter than CA).

    Good luck and be sure to post your build progress.

    Al
    Please check out my RC airplane blog at http://alsrcsite.com

  6. #6
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    Dremel rotary tool or something similar. I use mine all the time with the cut-off wheel attachment and also the small sanding drum. It's not absolutely necessary, but if you have one you will find yourself using it.
    Gary-Waco Brother#171 If the build gets tough, always refrain from throwing things! ARCA, Austin Tx. www.austinrc.org

  7. #7

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question


    ORIGINAL: TomCrump

    An x-acto knife, razor saw,a few clamps and a few dozen pins should get you started. After that, purchase what you need, as the need arises. No need to buy tools that you may, or may not, need.

    By the way, I've been building since the late 50's, and I don't have a table saw.
    Tom pretty much covered it all. You have everything to get started. You will need some 30 minute epoxy for building the Roar but that's about it. Over time you will end up with more then you really need. Good choice on the Roar for your first kit build too. It will teach you all you need to know to get started.
    Drinking and driving are illegal, why do bars have parking lots
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  8. #8
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    Lol guamflyer on stashing kits, and treating receipts like a 'Mission: Impossible' message; self-destruct in 5 seconds.  

    Ditto on T-pins, razor saw, and small mitre box - all are indispensable. My corded, variable-speed Dremel died after 25+ years, so I picked up a cordless Lithium one and couldn't be happier. Use it constantly, and it's ergonomic - so much easier to hold. A metal yardstick with inch and metric graduations is also great for checking work surface, truing alignments, etc. Shop for some small squares and angles, handy to tape onto surfaces when you don't have 3+ hands during assembly. 
    When buying small tools like screwdrivers and wrenches, tho, get good quality. Nothing worse than a cheap tool wrecking all your hard work. 
    Harbor Freight, Dollar stores (for cheap tools) and Sears/K-Mart clearance aisles are great. 
    I might not be very good, but I'm fun to watch!

  9. #9
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    The tools you need will be partially dictated by the type of plane you are building. In general, these are a good place to start:
    Good lighting.
    More good lighting.
    A little more lighting!
    #11
    6", 12" flexible steel rules.
    T-pins in a couple of sizes.
    A fine tooth razor saw.
    80, 120, 240 and 360 grit sand paper with the 360 being wet or dry.
    6" and 12" sanding blocks.
    Balsa plane.
    A collection of clamps.
    Some wooden coffee stirs. (like at Starbucks)
    2 oz plastic cups. (grab a few from the salsa bar at the local taco restaraunt)
    30 min. Epoxy.
    Thin and thick CA.
    Carpenters glue.
    Dremel rotary tool with an assortment of sanders, cutoff wheels and burrs.
    Tweezers.
    Scissors.
    Allen wrench set (SAE or Metric as needed)
    Small flathead and phillips screwdrivers.
    Small sockets and wrenches. (SAE or Metric as needed)

    That will get you through most of any build.
    Another good resource is to check out Paul Johnson's website at www.airfieldmodels.com
    You will find a wealth of information and ideas there.

    A regular table saw is pretty useless in model building. If you wanted to add a saw, I find the bandsaw to be the most useful. Some people like a scroll saw, but I've very rarely used mine.
    Another very used power tool is a belt/disk sander. These are not absolutely necessary for building, but are welcomed additions.

    On down the road, you may also end up needing some other items such as:
    Heat gun.
    Covering iron.
    Balancing machine.
    Incident meter.
    Throw meter.

    One last word on tools. Be careful, collecting tools can become a hobby all to itself!

    Scott

  10. #10

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    And don't forget the CA debonder for when you glue your fingers together, or to the work bench. It happens .... don't ask how I know.

  11. #11
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    This is a list copied from a kit manual. You do not have to have everything, and this particular list does not even mention clamps or weights.
    CA glue or wood glue. Your preference, everyone has a favorite
    30-Minute Epoxy
    Epoxy brushes (I got 144 small paint brushes for 3 or 4 bucks in the kids art section of hobby lobby)
    Epoxy mixing Sticks (popsicle sticks)
    Hand or electric drill
    Drill Bits: I got a low price set with 1/64" increments from 1/16 to 1/2 inch at Harbor Freight
    Sealing iron
    Heat gun
    Razor Saw
    Hobby knife, #11 Blades
    Pliers
    Wire cutters
    Screwdrivers (Phillips and flat blade)
    Round file (or similar)
    T-Pins
    String
    Straightedge with scale (a 36 inch metal ruler is good)
    Masking tape
    Sandpaper (coarse, medium, fine grit)
    T-Bar sanding block (or similar)
    Waxed paper
    Isopropyl rubbing alcohol (I prefer at least 90%)
    Drafting triangle or carpenters square
    - Carrell

  12. #12

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    Speaking of tools, your hollow-core door is also a tool. Don't presume that it's flat. Measure it with a straightedge or a taut length of string. Ensure that it's flat on the length, width, and diagonal (i.e., ensure that the door isn't warped.

    Another thing to do is to take your original plans and have them copied. Keep the originals safe in case you need to refer to them again. Use the copies to build from, and you don't care if they get chopped up with the ol' X-Acto or not.

    Also, if you happen to do some covering, save the backing off of the Monokote to put over the plans where you intend to glue. Most (but not all) glues won't stick to it.

    Also, I have to agree with tools that these other guys have suggested. Stay away from the 'trick' tools and ask the guys at the field before you buy one. I've got tons of tools that I don't use.

    As you get into it (and you decide that you're going to build more kits) you can add things like an inexpensive sander and benchtop jigsaw, but you won't use them on your first couple of kits.. only those that you wind up kitbashing.

    Just my $.02. Like everyone else says, keep it simple. You'll be surprised at how few tools you actually need, as long as you get good ones. And, don't be cheap on the X-Acto blades.... Don't ask me how I know that...

    Bob
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  13. #13

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    I have a good stone and a home made strop to sharpen my exacto blades. I once built 4 planes and covered them using the same two blades. I only toss them when they fall off the bench and bend the point. I get and keep them sharper then when new. When covering I strop them the first time I feel a tug when cutting the covering.
    The Up-Roar is a complete kit so you only need the basic tools. I almost never use my scroll saw with a kit but I do use my belt sander. I bought it for $8.00 at a cheap tool sale years ago. Made in China and I had to drill new holes to get the motor moved back far enough so the belt engaged. It works just fine with balsa and light ply. With a kit a home made sanding block works just fine. I belong to a wood working club so even my sanding blocks are free, I make them from scrap wood blocks. I just glue the sand paper onto both sides. When the paper is dead I just toss the blocks.
    Too many people worry about the tools. As Bob mentioned, I have some top of the line best you can buy hand tools but I use more of the cheap Harbor Freight tools. My hex ball drivers are the good ones and I have some outstanding JAS screw drivers I use more then the SAEs.
    I have been building for years and I build a lot so I also buy my small 2-56, 4-40 and servo screws in bulk from Micro Fastener. I buy 400 hex head servo screws at a time and am surprised I have to buy them every couple of years.
    For now you just don't need a lot of stuff to build.
    Drinking and driving are illegal, why do bars have parking lots
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  14. #14

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    Not much I can add, these guys covered it well. You've got an X-acto knife, buy lots of blades, throw them away often. Razor saw is next most important. And as far as I'm concerned, razor plane, razor plane, razor plane!!! You can't shape balsa properly without an ultra cheap Master Airscrew Razor Plane. And buy some spare blades while you're at it. The other must have item after razor plane is the aluminum sanding block with stick on sanding paper. I have several with different grits.

    For T-pins, go to your local sewing store. It'll feel funny but they'll love you for it and you'll get a good price. Support your local hobby shop but for common items use hardware stores or such. I'm a regular at Hancock Fabrics. For glues, do use the local hobby shop. Super glue from the hardware store just isn't suited to balsa like the stuff you'll get at the LHS.

    When you find that you're enjoying building and want to build from a set of plans instead of a kit, a scroll saw is a great addition. Actually I find I use my bandsaw more but it's a bigger ticket item.

    Build, build, build, before you know it you'll have everything you need. Okay, I lied, I still want more tools.

    Dave

  15. #15
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    Bricks, about 10 bricks!

    Make sure the're nice smooth ones with 90 deg edges.

    I use them on the building board to hold fuselage sides upright & square
    when I pull the front & rear in to the required spacing for formers.

    Sort of a poor man's building jig.

    Come in handy for weighing things down too.

    Did I mention they are as reliable as .... well, a brick?

    - John.

  16. #16

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    the boys got just about everything covered..the more you build the more you collect.one more thing though...get a couple of thumb drives to put all the stuff you find on the net. i research for ideas , pics of planes other guys builds and just about anything interesting. I also collect 3-views as I scratch build mostly..Oh yes, one more....I also hide planes at my Dad's place...LOL...

    SLOPE FAST - SOAR DEEP
    guamflyer P-40 Bro #5 guamflyer\'\'s Dad #6
    SLOPE FAST - SOAR DEEP

  17. #17

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    Get a large tool box to store your tools and glue in, and another for the parts. When they are full, you have enough for building.  

    Actually, what I found very useful are those plastic containers that lunch meat comes in with the resealable lids. I store CA glue in them along with spare parts, RX, batteries, etc. and they stack and store neatly inside my tool box.  I also got some tool containers that router bits come in to store all the little parts like hinges, screws, servo horns, etc.  

    I have an old railroad modelers tool kit, has the razor saw, three different knives, screw driver, and a sharp pointy tool for making holes or marking, like an awl. It fits neatly in the tool box, surrounded by 3 sanding handles from GP, one for each grit, then an 11" one for large area's, and one with the contours, then a case for more parts sits on top of that, also a box of rubber bands, tape rools, epoxy, bottle of fiberglass strands, balsa filler, monokote trim solvent, some other small things, a cutting pad, a long sanding block, trim iron, covering iron, and hex drivers. All this in in the bottom of the box, the top tray holds the small tools, like razor planes, markers, pens, rulers, wrenches, etc. 

    The best part about it all, is it keeps every thing neat, and I can pack it up in minutes and take it with me for our club build night. The parts box is a larger box that I store all my parts in, including some sheets of plywood. The small parts containers in the top tray, the larger ones stacked in the bottom.  When I am not building, they sit on a shelf out of the way and nothing gets lost or broken. 
    SIG Brotherhood # 3
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  18. #18

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    Two things that I use often are both improvised, right angle jigs and weights. For the jigs, I just cut 1 inch pieces from scraps of aluminum angle and drilled a small hole to pin it down. For weights, I filled Ziplock bags with sand and put it inside another bag. I keep five or six bags in an small plastic bucket on the back of the bench.

    As far as the wife is concerned, if you keep the workbench messy enough, she'll never spot the new stuff. And I always tell the hobby shop, "Keep the slip, plain bag and I was NEVER here!"
    Chuck R AMA 588070 Club Saito#681
    I spend most of my money at the Hobby Shop, and I waste the rest.

  19. #19

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    All of the suggestions mentioned are great ones. Especially keep it simple. There are lots of tools out there that will make the job easier such as bandsaws, grinders and sanders; but you really can get by without them until you get a little more experience (spare change) and can afford them. One tool that I have found to be very helpful has been a drill press so that I can keep any holes drilled straight as well as where I want them. Also, my Dremel tool bought in 1968, has proved to be one of the handiest tools ever.

  20. #20

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question


    ORIGINAL: acdii

    Get a large tool box to store your tools and glue in, and another for the parts. When they are full, you have enough for building. *

    Actually, what I found very useful are those plastic containers that lunch meat comes in with the resealable lids. I store CA glue in them along with spare parts, RX, batteries, etc. and they stack and store neatly inside my tool box. *I also got some tool containers that router bits come in to store all the little parts like hinges, screws, servo horns, etc. *

    I have an old railroad modelers tool kit, has the razor saw, three different knives, screw driver, and a sharp pointy tool for making holes or marking, like an awl. It fits neatly in the tool box, surrounded by 3 sanding handles from GP, one for each grit, then an 11'' one for large area's, and one with the contours, then a case for more parts sits on top of that, also a box of rubber bands, tape rools, epoxy, bottle of fiberglass strands, balsa filler, monokote trim solvent, some other small things, a cutting pad, a long sanding block, trim iron, covering iron, and hex drivers. All this in in the bottom of the box, the top tray holds the small tools, like razor planes, markers, pens, rulers, wrenches, etc.*

    The best part about it all, is it keeps every thing neat, and I can pack it up in minutes and take it with me for our club build night. The parts box is a larger box that I store all my parts in, including some sheets of plywood. The small parts containers in the top tray, the larger ones stacked in the bottom. *When I am not building, they sit on a shelf out of the way and nothing gets lost or broken.*
    Tool Box??? What is this tool box thing?? Kidding aside, my board is held up with three cabinets with three drawers. This month the drawer on the right side where I keep most of my tools finally out weighed the runners and broke. The drawer is now on the floor waiting for repairs. I need a couple of small L brackets to get it back in it's slot in the cabinet.
    Drinking and driving are illegal, why do bars have parking lots
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  21. #21

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question


    ORIGINAL: Gray Beard


    ORIGINAL: acdii

    Get a large tool box to store your tools and glue in, and another for the parts. When they are full, you have enough for building.
    Actually, what I found very useful are those plastic containers that lunch meat comes in with the resealable lids. I store CA glue in them along with spare parts, RX, batteries, etc. and they stack and store neatly inside my tool box. I also got some tool containers that router bits come in to store all the little parts like hinges, screws, servo horns, etc.
    I have an old railroad modelers tool kit, has the razor saw, three different knives, screw driver, and a sharp pointy tool for making holes or marking, like an awl. It fits neatly in the tool box, surrounded by 3 sanding handles from GP, one for each grit, then an 11'' one for large area's, and one with the contours, then a case for more parts sits on top of that, also a box of rubber bands, tape rools, epoxy, bottle of fiberglass strands, balsa filler, monokote trim solvent, some other small things, a cutting pad, a long sanding block, trim iron, covering iron, and hex drivers. All this in in the bottom of the box, the top tray holds the small tools, like razor planes, markers, pens, rulers, wrenches, etc.
    The best part about it all, is it keeps every thing neat, and I can pack it up in minutes and take it with me for our club build night. The parts box is a larger box that I store all my parts in, including some sheets of plywood. The small parts containers in the top tray, the larger ones stacked in the bottom. When I am not building, they sit on a shelf out of the way and nothing gets lost or broken.
    Tool Box??? What is this tool box thing?? Kidding aside, my board is held up with three cabinets with three drawers. This month the drawer on the right side where I keep most of my tools finally out weighed the runners and broke. The drawer is now on the floor waiting for repairs. I need a couple of small L brackets to get it back in it's slot in the cabinet.
    Simple box, like this one, only not as expensive, I think I paid $30 for both of mine together.

    http://www.toolboxesdirect.com/tool-...anttoolbox.cfm

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  22. #22

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    stacks of model aviation magazines (or similar) make great, form fitting weights.
    "single" socks about 3/4 full of navy beans work too.  These socks can also be used as extra hands, fuselage cradles etc.  just keep dry!  If you get the canvas bags that sports shops sell for reloading shotgun shells, don't use the lead shot, it will dent your balsa all to hell....don't ask.....I have one wing that the sheeting looks like a golf ball.
    Urge Congress to keep common sense in the skies

  23. #23

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    I have bought a drill press ,band saw , table saw, scroll saw and most of my 1940's table top flouresent lamps at garage sales or estate sales /flea markets /craigs list . Most of these are tools from the 40's and 50's for example i bought my drill press at a auction by the airport ,it has american airlines stamped on it .Its all cast iron weighs a ton and will outlast me and my kids after iam long gone.I bought the drill press for 100 bucks and that was the highest i had ever paid for a nice power tool. What iam saying here is you dont have to pay alot of money to own great tools all you need to do is go out and find them. For small hand tools again you would be sureprized at what you can find at flea markets and garage sales. Because i have been building for almost 30 years and my kids are grown and gone so i did break down and buy some perma grit sanding bars and slot making bars for slotting ribs .They are pricey but i bought mine 12 years ago and they work just as good now as they did when i bought them. joe http://www.averytools.com/products.asp?dept=20

  24. #24

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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question



    I have found that the 6" square is a little large. So I have found some small scrap wood that has square corners for when I am setting the ribs in the wings. Most fit tight and stay set but for the loose ones I uses these squares.
    Sanding blocks from scrap wood work great.
    Don't go crazy until you start building and you will figure the little tools that "you" like to use.

    Good Luck and Happy Building, I feel that is the best part of the hobby. 

    Handiman
    DX8 / AR8000\'\'s with Telemetry
    Spitfire #2 - electric
    SU-26 - electric
    P51-D - Saito FA-56GK

  25. #25
    toolmaker7341's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
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    RE: Beginner Build - tools question

    I started with: (I was very poor)
    razor blade
    glue
    sand paper
    reg. pins
    wax paper
    hand drill
    12 X 24 ceiling tile
    Mike Burg


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