Category Archives: Workshop

Metal Brake

I decided to build Dave’s simple sheet metal brake for some of the longer bends on the scratch-built fuselage.  I bought my steel from Service Steel, Inc., but didn’t originally tell them I was using the steel in a sheet metal brake and I needed the steel as straight as possible.  Two of the 8′ lengths were almost perfect and I riveted them together with a steel hinge.  The third piece was to be bolted on top to clamp down on the metal being bent, but it was bowed by 1/8″.  Unable to think of a method of bending the steel that didn’t involve doing dangerous things with cars or car jacks, I contacted Service Steel and they let me trade the piece out for a straighter piece that worked great.

Here I am after bending the first 38″ piece.  I am going to work my way up to the longer ones as I determine if I have a sufficient number of bolts and if my handles are satisfactory.


My dad helped me build these large 8’x4′ tables in anticipation that one day I might decide to build an airplane in the basement.  Here I have cleared off one table with the goal that only airplane-related items will touch it.

When I purchased the tail kit I decided I would like more workbench real estate.  I made this smaller workbench to keep my larger tools off the main work area.

Here I think I have found a good home for the new workbench and am trying to find the best positioning of the tools.

Sonex Workshop

We decided to attend the Sonex builder’s workshop in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  We were a little worried we might not make it due to the blizzard a few days prior, but the drive was pretty smooth.

We drove through the impressive Fowler Ridge Wind Farm.

The snow from the blizzard we missed was piled up everywhere as we ventured further north.

We were given a tour of the warehouse where they have all the nice laser-cut parts.  Some of the parts I have chosen to make myself and it was fun to see parts I have already made on the shelves.

A big desire was to finally sit inside a Sonex.  They have a model cockpit just for that purpose.  I am 6’2″ and had plenty of head room and decent leg room–I didn’t notice any tendency to bump my knees on the instrument panel.  I was prepared for it to be tight for two and it was, but better than I was expecting.  More than anything, sitting in there really got me excited about building mine.

We got to tour the Hornet’s Nest (the research and development part of the company).  There they experiment with jet power,

electric power,

turbochargers, and everything else.  They have trophies hung on the wall of wings they broke by stressing them well beyond the design limits of the airplane by loading them down with sandbags to confirm the strength of their design.

We got to tour the Airventure museum.  Unfortunately, before we went I put the memory card for the camera in my computer and forgot to remove it.  While there I remembered we had cellphones, but it was hard to get decent pictures.  We saw a replica of SpaceShipOne.

We found a couple of short-winged airplanes that seemed to match our outfits.  The first is a Stits Sky Baby, once the smallest airplane in the world.

The second, the Stits DS-1 Baby Bird was designed by the son of the Sky Baby’s designer and also became the smallest airplane in the world.