Quality: How to spot it, how to get it

Posted by Mike Lauritsen on

Sure, some builders just want to "get the thing into the air" but we find that our customers are of a different type. They care about quality of workmanship and the experience of building. 

Quality in tools means three things to us: Ease of use, Result produced, Consistency across the build. If these things are paramount and paired with well-honed metal working skills, you'll achieve the hallmark of aviation craftsmanship, smooth skins and oooohs and ahhhhs around the airport.

Ease of use

We believe that superior tools are a pleasure to use and inferior tools produce only frustration. Let's talk about bucking bars—an easy place to experience the difference of ease of use. The typical builder's toolbox has 3-5 oddly shaped alloy bars, awkward things the size of your hand. However, professional aviation assemblers (think Boeing employees) prefer tiny Tungsten bars, the size of a finger, because their 1.9-times-higher mass provide gains over traditional alloy bars. These smaller bars are easier to fit into tight spots and often just two shapes will get you through a build. They also provide a more controlled, more precise result because it will take fewer hits with the rivet gun to squeeze the rivet. Builders often remark that using a Tungsten bar feels like they are melting the rivet—instead of being bucked by it.

Another standout innovation increasing the ease of your build is our exclusive hand squeezer, which sets the rivet using ONLY 35% OF THE FORCE required on other models—only from Cleaveland Tool. 

Results produced

Let's talk about the 14,000 dimples in a typical Van's RV airplane. Dimpling is one of the most anxiety inducing skills for builders to develop but with good dies, you're halfway there. Producing the highest-quality dies in the industry is how we got into business supporting builders. Our dies include a springback angle on the die faces to minimizes skin deformation. Superior dimples and correctly set rivets mean you can lay a razor's edge across the skin and no light should pass through and no distortion will be seen in the reflection on the skin. Patience to practice makes perfect, start on scraps, not your empennage. 

Consistency across the build

With the quality of kits increasing constantly, the big impacts to consistency have shifted from layout and drilling to dimpling and squeezing. However, an often overlooked step is reaming—an aspect of deburring. Reamers center themselves perfectly in pre-punched holes and precisely mill to size the hole before dimpling. Reamers remove a small amount of material that occurs as the metal was punched through, reducing the amount to deburr. With our straight flute reamers you can achieve a smooth result using a locally available, standard battery-operated drill. The money saved by skipping an airdrill may make this an interesting option for some builders— especially at the beginning.


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