It’s no joke folks – if you want to do a big job, you need some big tools. Most metal airplane builders are familiar with squeezer yokes – heavy steel shapes that attach to either a pneumatic cylinder or a hand squeezer to squeeze rivets and dimple sheet metal. Really big ones might handle a depth of about four inches. But for some jobs, you need to reach really far inside the sheet from the edge, and for this, most folks use a C-frame dimpler that you hit with a hammer.
But here’s an alternative….if you happen to know someone that we at Kitplanes call the Creative Homebuilder, you use one of the specialized yokes he has built for special jobs. This one dwarfs the squeezer itself, but does a great job with a throat depth of 24″. That means you can reach almost to the center of a four foot sheet of aluminum! Here it’s making quick work of a dimpling job on the leading edge skin for our Xenos.
Not everyone has the resources to build tools like this – but the experimental community is bigger than most people think, and it also might closer than you know. One of the advantages of making building a social activity (either by joining your local EAA chapter or just making friends with other builders in your area) is that it broadens your envelope of tool availability. In our airpark, it is rare that one actually NEEDS to buy a tool – someone almost always has a special tool in their drawer that no one else does, and will gladly make it available for loan. Now of course, true builders don’t always NEED a new tool, sometimes they just WANT it… and then knowing that a neighbor has one can be a stumbling block with the spousal unit… but that’s an entirely different topic.