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  1. #1
    Join Date
    10th October 2017
    Posts
    22

    Which is your most used/useful woodworking tool

    I am slowly putting together a small shop for building rockets. Starting out I will not have any power tools at all but intend to add a few as I go along. Since I will only be adding one tool at at time I would like to know which tools you find most useful (or most used) in your rocket building endeavors. Actually, I do have a cordless hand drill so that by default will be my first power tool in the shop.

    At first I will only be building from kits but I suspect I will want to modify some. I have no intention of getting into fiberglassing tubes or fins myself although I will certainly be building some fiberglass kits. I like "low and slow" so I don't expect to be pushing the envelope as far as velocity or altitude are concerned. I intend to certify at level 2 but not level 3 so the biggest motors I expect to fly will be 54mm K's. I may build some kits up to 7.5" in diameter but anything I build from scratch will probably be a maximum of 4" in diameter.

    Given the above, does it make sense to invest in power tools for making fins, centering rings, bulkhead plates etc. at all or would it be cheaper/easier in the long run to just buy such components from the many fine kit makers out there? Hmm... It sounds like I am talking myself out of investing in any power tools at all except maybe a Dremel. Well, maybe something for cutting tubes to length including fiberglass tubes.

    At any rate I would still like to hear a discussion of what tools you find to be the most fun, most used, and most useful in your rocket shop!

    Thanks!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    13th October 2014
    Location
    SouthEastern, WA
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    6,097
    The advantage to having powertools is to make stuff right now, not have to wait for the product to be shipped. That being said, my most used tools for rocketry are, a bench top drill press, a, scroll saw, 4" belt/6" disc combo sander, occasionally my router and bandsaw, and of course the dremel with the gold sanding/cutting disc (543 for the permanent non-EZ one I think).

    Last edited by rharshberger; 29th October 2017 at 08:04 PM.
    Rich

    NAR# 99154

    L3-4x upscale Estes Cherokee-D- AT M1297W 5/28/2016 http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthr...r-rharshberger

    TriCities Rocketeers NAR section# 736 http://www.tricitiesrocketeers.org/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    21st December 2010
    Location
    Champaign, IL
    Posts
    238

    Which is your most used/useful woodworking tool

    I agree that the Dremel, adjustable/keyless chuck (4486), and 1-1/2" carbide (gold colored) cutting wheel (EZ544) are invaluable. Drill press, band saw, and belt/disc sander have also been primary power tools in my rocket shop.

    Be careful when you say, "don't expect to...," and "don't intend to..." regarding your future rocketry endeavors :-).

    Enjoy.

    Mark
    Mark Joseph
    TRA/NAR L2
    Central Illinois Aerospace

  4. #4
    Join Date
    10th October 2017
    Posts
    22
    Thanks for the replies so far. It would also be very helpful if you would describe what you mostly use each tool for. For instance, a Dremel with the "gold" cutting wheel, is that used mostly for cutting tubes to length and making fin slots? Or does it have other frequent uses?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    13th October 2014
    Location
    SouthEastern, WA
    Posts
    6,097
    The 543 and 544 (pretty much same disc) are used for slotting tubes, they also have grit on the sides and the cutouts make the disc opaque while spinning, the side grit can be used for sanding/modifying parts.

    Drill press, used to cut centering rings with either hole saws or fly-cutters, I also use sanding drums for fine tuning CR fits ( drill 1-1/8" center hole and use sanding drum to open up slightly for 29mm motor tube). My drill press used to be a bench top but is currently in process to be a floor model. Both drill presses are getting tube extensions currently.

    Scroll saw and bandsaw, centering rings ( outside only, inner holes are done on drill press) and fins depending on size and thickness.

    Belt/Disc combo, disc with circle jig for ODs of most centering rings to perfect fit. Belt for bevelling fins.

    Router: rounding fin edges and with the right jigs, slotting tubes, slotting CRs for self jigging fins, CRs with the proper circle jig (Jasco is a popular one iirc).

    For cutting tubes I made a tube cutter for LPR tubes, and for HPR tubing (cardboard or compisite) a power miter saw in my case a 10" Makita sliding compound miter saw.
    Last edited by rharshberger; 29th October 2017 at 08:23 PM.
    Rich

    NAR# 99154

    L3-4x upscale Estes Cherokee-D- AT M1297W 5/28/2016 http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthr...r-rharshberger

    TriCities Rocketeers NAR section# 736 http://www.tricitiesrocketeers.org/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    20th April 2012
    Location
    Fredericksburg VA
    Posts
    1,663
    There are a few power tools that I couldn't build rockets without: miter saw, drill press, bench sander, and of course a Dremel. And the bandsaw is one of the tools that I don't use very often for rocketry but occasionally it is really useful.
    NAR Level 3 #96210

  7. #7
    Join Date
    17th December 2013
    Location
    Slagle, La
    Posts
    1,448
    I vote drill press, followed quickly by a Dremel. I have used a hand drill with many of the Dremel bits, flapper wheels, wire brushes, sanding drums, in a pinch or at a launch, but a Dremel is much better.
    Drill press can be used to cut the rings, and even sand the rings if you chuck in the ring and hold a sanding block to it. Then put in a sanding drum and do the inside if you wish. You can even turn nose cones with a drill press. Drill accurate holes and so on.
    Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
    TRA #16513
    Level 1: Danger Close ---AT H123W to 1240'--- 29 OCT 2016
    Level 2: Binder Design Tyrannosaur ---AT J315R to 2148'--- 30 SEP 2017

  8. #8
    Join Date
    29th July 2012
    Location
    Northern Michigan
    Posts
    1,776
    Every homeowner should have a bench top drill press , dremel , set of drill bits just for rockets
    L2

    2018 Plan on burning lvl 3 NS :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    22nd February 2013
    Location
    Garland, TX
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    3,769
    Quote Originally Posted by michigander View Post
    Every homeowner should have a bench top drill press , dremel , set of drill bits just for rockets
    Cheap bench top drill press followed by belt/disk sander combo, band saw and miter saw...probably total $400 for all of them. With those four you can pretty much build anything.
    www.labratrocketry.com
    Straightforward solutions for the "little things", so you can get the most out of your time in the field.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    10th October 2017
    Posts
    22
    Only problem is I hate buying cheap tools! :-)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    13th October 2014
    Location
    SouthEastern, WA
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    6,097
    Quote Originally Posted by OldManRocket View Post
    Only problem is I hate buying cheap tools! :-)
    +1, no cheap tools.
    Rich

    NAR# 99154

    L3-4x upscale Estes Cherokee-D- AT M1297W 5/28/2016 http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthr...r-rharshberger

    TriCities Rocketeers NAR section# 736 http://www.tricitiesrocketeers.org/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    16th February 2014
    Location
    Gilroy, CA
    Posts
    2,237
    About 20 years ago I bought a Craftsman benchtop drill press, bandsaw and belt/disk sander combo for about $100 each. I use all three on a regular basis. My next most used tools are a cordless drill and Dremel tool. Those 5 tools can handle 99% of your rocketry needs.
    Chris Attebery
    TRA 6602 L3
    Personal best: 37,789' 1335mph

    www.ape-rc.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    10th October 2017
    Posts
    22
    Well, having said what I did about cheap tools, I just did some research on benchtop belt/disc sanders and what seems to be the top rated model (the Wen 6502 4 x 36 inch sander with cast iron base) also seems to be the cheapest among its competitors. Only $83 on Amazon! Do any of you have this model? What do you think of it? Hmm... Would it be best to start a separate topic to discuss each type of tool, one for sanders, one for drill presses, etc?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    13th October 2014
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    SouthEastern, WA
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    6,097
    Quote Originally Posted by OldManRocket View Post
    Well, having said what I did about cheap tools, I just did some research on benchtop belt/disc sanders and what seems to be the top rated model (the Wen 6502 4 x 36 inch sander with cast iron base) also seems to be the cheapest among its competitors. Only $83 on Amazon! Do any of you have this model? What do you think of it? Hmm... Would it be best to start a separate topic to discuss each type of tool, one for sanders, one for drill presses, etc?
    Was a Grizzly on the list, so far my Griz tools have been far superior to most of the lesser big box store brands, Wen, Ryobi, etc. The Griz is more expensive but they have fewer plastc parts too.
    Rich

    NAR# 99154

    L3-4x upscale Estes Cherokee-D- AT M1297W 5/28/2016 http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthr...r-rharshberger

    TriCities Rocketeers NAR section# 736 http://www.tricitiesrocketeers.org/

  15. #15
    Join Date
    10th October 2017
    Posts
    22
    Rich, I am going to start a new topic for discussing belt/disc sanders since this may be my first purchase. But to answer your question, yes there was a Grizzly on the list. It was more expensive and the belt was only 1" wide.

    Now back to our originally scheduled topic: What are your favorite rocket building tools and what specifically do you use them for? (Sorry I hijacked my own thread...)

  16. #16
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
    Location
    Stafford VA
    Posts
    7,151
    I have to agree with most of the above

    Bench top drill press Number one power tool. That is assuming you have the drum sander, fly cutter, hole cutter, standard and brad point drill bits. Some good clamps are also needed.

    Number two is the shop vac! It attaches to almost all of the power tool or I've built fences/jigs to be able to use it with anything that doesn't have a built in attachment port.

    Lately I've been using my bench top band saw a lot. I also have a bench top 4" belt/6" disk sander, table saw, router in a table, grinder, and of course the all important Dremel.

    My table saw is a Grizzly and is by far the best tool I ever bought. It was no more expensive then a Delta but head and shoulders better in quality.

    I think when it comes to power tools, some of the advantage of one over another is how you use them and how good you are at coming up with jigs and fixtures to make it do what you want it to. I built a fixture for the table saw that lets me square up the ends of tubes from about 1" to at least 24" diameter. A similar fixture could be built for the router table. It just depends what you have and what kind of jigs you can build to make the tool more useful.
    Last edited by Handeman; 9th November 2017 at 12:41 AM.
    Handeman

    TRA #09903 L3 3/29/2015

    "If you don't use your head, you have to use your feet!" my Dad

    Tripoli Central Virginia #25 - BattlePark.org

  17. #17
    Join Date
    13th April 2013
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    1,310
    Before CNC:
    • drill press
    • router
    • band saw

    (Now I do almost all fab work on a CNC router.)

    And always a top tool:
    • chop saw (14" Hitatchi that can cut 6" tubes)
    AERO-PAC, ROC, LUNAR (TRA & NAR)
    jcrocket.com thrustcurve.org

  18. #18
    Join Date
    31st October 2016
    Location
    N/A
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    239
    For when you start to collect power tools I will echo the votes for a drill press and disc/belt sander. Don't got too cheap on the drill press. The run-out on a badly made press will mean you won't be able to use a fly cutter or use it as vertical lathe.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldManRocket View Post
    Only problem is I hate buying cheap tools! :-)
    Consignment shops, auctions, garage sales, pawn shops, craigslist. Most of my power tools were purchased second-hand, or as refurbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCoker View Post
    Before CNC:
    (Now I do almost all fab work on a CNC router.)
    Yeah, the CNC is a great enabler. I've made all kinds of stuff that I wouldn't have attempted if I didn't have a robot to handle the tedium and nit-picking-precision.

    I am not a fan of rotary tools, in general. I find the standard hand-held-motor Dremel a little unwieldy and I've ruined a lot of pieces when the cutting tool got away from me. I've also got one with flexible shaft and a foot operated speed control that is a little better -- but I still reach for a jeweler's saw, chisel, or a needle file to do most of the fine tuning on parts that don't quite fit.

    For unpowered hand tools, in addition to a good set of files, a good set of chisels (I've got chisels down to 2 mm), and a jeweler's saw with some push-pull blades (lots of blades, they break) I'd strongly recommend a good pair of flush cutters. These are useful for cutting the sprue and flash off injection molded parts, for trimming away glue squeeze-out, and for cutting the tabs from parts coming off a CNC or laser cutter. I really like my Irwin 5 1/2" Full Flush Angled End Cutters and my Engineer NS-04 cutters.

    Zona pull saws are inexpensive, and really useful. Good for cutting plastic, balsa, and plywood. I've used the fine-tooth blade in a shop-made jig to cut coupler stock, kraft-paper, and blue-tube airframe.

    Get lots of clamps. Spring clamps, and small ratchet clamps. You can never have too many clamps.

    Also get in a few rolls of double-sided tape, emory boards, and some polyethylene gloves - the kind food service workers use - for when you use CA .
    NAR Level 1, Sheridan Oregon, 09/16/17 -- scratch built 7.6cm x 120cm rocket on an AT H182R.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    1st October 2014
    Posts
    59
    exacto knife, sandpaper, and metal ruler I can't live without. A flat table is an overlooked mandatory "tool" for me too. Tube marking guides save plenty of time. Those are my necessities, but I cant cut plywood with those.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    20th July 2016
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    107
    I just added a Bob’s E3 CNC router to my shop. Still learning the CAD and CAM software but I have cut a few bulkplates and CRs. It’s amazing to watch perfect circles appear before your eyes.

    L1 Madcow Torrent I500T 3,312'
    L2 Madcow Prion J295 5,591'

    NAR 103061
    Tripoli 17290

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