Tools for Sheet Metal Construction and Repair (Part Two)

in Aircraft Metal Structural Repair

Hole Duplicator

Available in a variety of sizes and styles, hole duplicators, or hole finders, utilize the old covering as a template to locate and match existing holes in the structure. Holes in a replacement sheet or in a patch must be drilled to match existing holes in the structure and the hole duplicator simplifies this process. Figure 4-17 illustrates one type of hole duplicator. The peg on the bottom leg of the duplicator fits into the existing rivet hole. To make the hole in the replacement sheet or patch, drill through the bushing on the top leg. If the duplicator is properly made, holes drilled in this manner are in perfect alignment. A separate duplicator must be used for each diameter of rivet.


Figure 4-17. Hole duplicator.

Figure 4-17. Hole duplicator.

Cutting Tools

Powered and nonpowered metal cutting tools available to the aviation technician include various types of saws, nibblers, shears, sanders, notchers, and grinders.

Circular-Cutting Saws

The circular cutting saw cuts with a toothed, steel disk that rotates at high speed. Handheld or table mounted and powered by compressed air, this power saw cuts metal or wood. To prevent the saw from grabbing the metal, keep a firm grip on the saw handle at all times. Check the blade carefully for cracks prior to installation because a cracked blade can fly apart during use, possibly causing serious injury.

Kett Saw

The Kett saw is an electrically operated, portable circular cutting saw that uses blades of various diameters. [Figure 4-18] Since the head of this saw can be turned to any desired angle, it is useful for removing damaged sections on a stringer. The advantages of a Kett saw include:

  1. Can cut metal up to 3⁄16-inch in thickness.
  2. No starting hole is required.
  3. A cut can be started anywhere on a sheet of metal.
  4. Can cut an inside or outside radius.
Figure 4-18. Kett saw.

Figure 4-18. Kett saw.

Pneumatic Circular Cutting Saw

The pneumatic circular cutting saw, useful for cutting out damage, is similar to the Kett saw. [Figure 4-19]

Figure 4-19. Pneumatic circular saw.

Figure 4-19. Pneumatic circular saw.

Reciprocating Saw

The versatile reciprocating saw achieves cutting action through a push and pull (reciprocating) motion of the blade. This saw can be used right sideup or upside down, a feature that makes it handier than the circular saw for working in tight or awkward spots. A variety of blade types are available for reciprocating saws; blades with finer teeth are used for cutting through metal. The portable, air-powered reciprocating saw uses a standard hacksaw blade and can cut a 360° circle or a square or rectangular hole. Unsuited for fine precision work, this saw is more difficult to control than the pneumatic circular cutting saw. A reciprocating saw should be used in such a way that at least two teeth of the saw blade are cutting at all times. Avoid applying too much downward pressure on the saw handle because the blade may break. [Figure 4-20]

Figure 4-20. Reciprocating saw.

Figure 4-20. Reciprocating saw.

Cut-off Wheel

A cut-off wheel is a thin abrasive disc driven by a high-speed pneumatic die-grinder and used to cut out damage on aircraft skin and stringers. The wheels come in different thicknesses and sizes. [Figure 4-21]

Figure 4-21. Die grinder and cut-off wheel.

Figure 4-21. Die grinder and cut-off wheel.

Nibblers

Usually powered by compressed air, the nibbler is another tool for cutting sheet metal. Portable nibblers utilize a high speed blanking action (the lower die moves up and down and meets the upper stationary die) to cut the metal. [Figure 4-22] The shape of the lower die cuts out small pieces of metal approximately 1⁄16 inch wide.

Figure 4-22. Nibbler.

Figure 4-22. Nibbler.

The cutting speed of the nibbler is controlled by the thickness of the metal being cut. Nibblers satisfactorily cut through sheets of metal with a maximum thickness of 1⁄16 inch. Too much force applied to the metal during the cutting operation clogs the dies (shaped metal), causing them to fail or the motor to overheat. Both electric and hand nibblers are available.

Shop Tools

Due to size, weight, and/or power source, shop tools are usually in a fixed location, and the airframe part to be constructed or repaired is brought to the tool.

Squaring Shear

The squaring shear provides the airframe technician with a convenient means of cutting and squaring sheet metal. Available as a manual, hydraulic, or pneumatic model, this shear consists of a stationary lower blade attached to a bed and a movable upper blade attached to a crosshead. [Figure 4-23]

Figure 4-23. Power squaring shear.

Figure 4-23. Power squaring shear.

Two squaring fences, consisting of thick strips of metal used for squaring metal sheets, are placed on the bed. One squaring fence is placed on the right side and one on the left to form a 90° angle with the blades. A scale graduated in fractions of an inch is scribed on the bed for ease in placement.

To make a cut with a foot shear, move the upper blade down by placing the foot on the treadle and pushing downward. Once the metal is cut and foot pressure removed, a spring raises the blade and treadle. Hydraulic or pneumatic models utilize remote foot pedals to ensure operator safety.

The squaring shear performs three distinctly different operations:

  1. Cutting to a line
  2. Squaring
  3. Multiple cutting to a specific size

When cutting to a line, place the sheet on the bed of the shears in front of the cutting blade with the cutting line even with the cutting edge of the bed. To cut the sheet with a foot shear, step on the treadle while holding the sheet securely in place.

Squaring requires several steps. First, one end of the sheet is squared with an edge (the squaring fence is usually used on the edge). Then, the remaining edges are squared by holding one squared end of the sheet against the squaring fence and making the cut, one edge at a time, until all edges have been squared.

When several pieces must be cut to the same dimensions, use the backstop, located on the back of the cutting edge on most squaring shears. The supporting rods are graduated in fractions of an inch and the gauge bar may be set at any point on the rods. Set the gauge bar the desired distance from the cutting blade of the shears and push each piece to be cut against the gauge bar. All the pieces can then be cut to the same dimensions without measuring and marking each one separately.

Foot-operated shears have a maximum metal cutting capacity of 0.063 inch of aluminum alloy. Use powered squaring shears for cutting thicker metals. [Figure 4-24]

Figure 4-24. Foot-operated squaring shear.

Figure 4-24. Foot-operated squaring shear.

Throatless Shear

Airframe technicians use the throatless shear to cut aluminum sheets up to 0.063 inches. This shear takes its name from the fact that metal can be freely moved around the cutting blade during cutting because the shear lacks a “throat” down which metal must be fed. [Figure 4-25] This feature allows great flexibility in what shapes can be cut because the metal can be turned to any angle for straight, curved, and irregular cuts. Also, a sheet of any length can be cut.

Figure 4-25. Throatless shears.

Figure 4-25. Throatless shears.

A hand lever operates the cutting blade which is the top blade. Throatless shears made by the Beverly Shear Manufacturing Corporation, called BeverlyTM shears, are often used.

Scroll Shears

Scroll shears are used for cutting irregular lines on the inside of a sheet without cutting through to the edge. [Figure 4-26] The upper cutting blade is stationary while the lower blade is movable. A handle connected to the lower blade operates the machine.

Figure 4-26. Scroll shears.

Figure 4-26. Scroll shears.