Old Dog, New Trick


I’ve been working on airplanes for a long time, and some things I do a certain way because I have always done them a certain way. Deburring for instance – I can’t begin to think of how many tens of thousands of holes I have deburred (both sides!) on countless airplanes. Drill, debur, repeat… the mantra of the metal airplane builder. I have almost always used a hand-crank deburring tool with two or three flutes for the job, and I can do it while watching TV or (probably) in my sleep. One and a half turns, then on to the next hole, endlessly.

Well recently, while staring at the endless wing span and a huge number of holes on our Xenos motor glider wing, a neighbor stopped by and silently handed me his little power screwdriver with a “no flute” tool. “Give this a try”, and after a moment’s pause he added “you’ll thank me for it!” Now I have used a fluted tool screwed into a a suicide mandrel and chucked up in a drill motor before – but it was grabby and of course the drill was heavy. Sometimes, when the wrist was sore form all the twisting, I just made that work. And I had heard of the no-flute design before (it has a diagonal hole drilled through the end of the bit, and cuts with the edge of that hole), but hadn’t tired one.

Well I’ll be… you CAN teach an old dog a new trick! The power screwdriver is light enough to hold in a variety of ways, and the little deburring bit is fantastic. No tendency to grab in the hole, and it leaves a nice clean edge without trying to countersink anything. I liked it well enough after one session that I ordered two of the bits from Cleaveland tools, and two of the power screwdrivers from an online retailer that could get them delivered in a day. Why two? Well, there’s a whole lot of Xenos wing to cover, and the time goes faster when you have a partner.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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