Follow us on Twitter Follow us on FaceBook Kitplanes Videos Get RSS Feed

Shop Talk

March 2018 Issue

Plane and Simple

Drilling in tight places.

Top to bottom: the inexpensive Tight Fit drill, a typical right-angle drill attachment, short drill bits used with right-angle drills, and foot-long drill bits.

Drilling hundreds of holes is typically a mundane task while building our aircraft. Whether using an electric or air-driven drill, the drilling process is usually stress free. But every once in a while, we are confronted with a scenario that restricts our drill bit from getting a straight shot to the desired hole location. A sense of panic or frustration sets in as we cannot get our drill properly positioned. If we try to cheat and drill at an angle, this often results in a ruined part or, at best, an oblong hole.

Maybe only a handful of situations during the aircraft build pose these “impossible” drilling scenarios, but each needs to be addressed properly. We must use the tools that are made for drilling in tight places. Fortunately, there are a couple of affordable tool options available for this purpose. The least obvious, least expensive, and most surprising solution is the foot-long drill bit.

A difficult location for hole making with a conventional drill.

The foot-long drill bit excels by simply keeping the drill motor far away from the target hole. This is often all that is needed to prevent interference that would otherwise prevent a straight shot to the desired hole location. These long bits are available in the popular sizes we use for making rivet holes. The flexibility of their long length allows you to flex the shaft with your fingers around barriers as needed.

The right-angle drill is the ultimate tool for tight drilling locations. It is available either as an attachment to your conventional drill motor (best value) or as a self-contained unit in either electric or air-powered format. Combined with special drill bits, they provide a reliable solution to the most challenging drilling locations. Most right-angle drills of the style shown here share a common style of drill bit: one end has a 1/4-inch 28 threaded shank, and the cutting end is available in many popular diameter sizes and lengths.

Either a foot-long bit or a right-angle drill attachment makes accurate drilling possible in restricted locations.

Since the right-angle drill attachment is only occasionally used in a project, builders may not want to invest in the somewhat high price of these tools (approximately $100–$250). A company called Tight Fit makes a nice economy model for about $40. The internal parts wore out in my Tight Fit after my second aircraft build, but it was well worth the value in getting all of my next-to-impossible holes drilled properly. The more expensive, durable models will last a lifetime, and many come as a kit with popular drill bit sizes included.

Drilling with a right-angle drill attachment takes a little practice—it is easy for the bit to catch in the hole as it breaks through the material. This is often due to not keeping the bit perpendicular to the material, as it is hard to judge with the bit length being very short. Letting up on the pressure as the bit breaks through will definitely help. These tools and their drill bits are available from your favorite aircraft tool supplier and the likes of

As the founder of, Jon Croke has produced instructional videos for Experimental aircraft builders for over 10 years. He has built (and helped others build) over a dozen kit aircraft of all makes and models. Jon is a private pilot and currently owns and flies a Zenith Cruzer.

Download File

Untitled Document Homebuilder's Portal by KITPLANES
Photo by Richard VanderMeulen
Dave Armando Kitfox Speedster Model VAfter 6 years of building my 2001 Kitfox Speedster Model V was flown. Equipped with a Jabiru 3300 120 hp 6 cylinder, swinging an IVO medium constant speed prop, my own designed smoke system, Grove gear, Maule tail wheel, removable wing tips with a fishing pole locker inside, Super Bee lithium battery for weight reduction, …
Dave Armando Rotorway-162F helicopterAfter 600 hours of build time my 2008 Rotorway 162F helicopter departed the earth. First flight was from my driveway after pushing it out of the garage. I have great neighbors! Some modifications include my own designed 6 gal aux fuel tank using DOT approved Harley Davison 1200 motorcycle tanks that works by gravity, AirMark's …
Folkerts-Murphy-Super-RebelWednesday, January 24th, 2017 at high noon, N25SR, a Murphy Super Rebel SR2500, took to the skies for approximately 45 minutes. I bought the kit in 1995, took delivery in 2000 due to overseas USAF moves, finally retired and began construction in 2011. I finished a Cygnet, built a hangar, designed, built and began marketing the …

Dynon Avionics' latest-generation SkyView integrated avionics called the SkyView HDX has a newly designed bezel and user controls for easier use while flying in turbulence, plus brighter displays and a reworked touch interface. Larry Anglisano takes a product tour of the HDX with Dynon's Michael Schoefield in this video.
At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Dynon continued to push into the world of non-certified avionics with its SkyView SE, a less expensive version of its popular SkyView EFIS system. Paul Bertorelli prepared this video report.
The G5 is a self-contained electronic flight instrument, which can be interfaced with Garmin's G3X/Touch avionics and autopilot for backup and flight instrument redundancy. The GMA245 and remote GMA245R Bluetooth audio panels have advanced entertainment input functions and onscreen programming.
At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Just Aircraft is showing off its new Titan-powered SuperSTOL XL. Harrison Smith took Paul Bertorelli for a half-day demo flight in the new airplane, and here's his video report.
Kit manufacturer Zenith Aircraft Company has released a new 360-degree VR short video to showcase its kit aircraft and to promote the rewarding hobby of kit aircraft building and flying light-sport aircraft.
Whether you are upgrading the audio system in an older LSA or experimental or building a new project, PS Engineering and Garmin have non-certified audio panels equipped with advanced features better suited for smaller cabins.
Video Archive


All mailed correspondence, including subscription invoices, renewals, and gift notices, will bear our address:
PO BOX 8535
Big Sandy, TX 75755

Third parties claiming to be selling KITPLANES subscriptions are not legitimate.