Everyone has been a great help in helping me decide on the best power plant and have given me good input on the different types of aluminum. I have a couple more questions I want to bring to the group.

1. Anyone have any good ideas on a homemade bending brake you could send me? I have checked with local shops and they do not have the 1/8 bending radius set up on their machines. Most have told me unless I am going to have them bend a large amount of aluminum, it isn't work their time to set it up. Any recommendations???

2. What is the best wood to ply to create the wooden block formers? (MDF, Ply, etc.....)

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Comment by Doug Moellering on August 2, 2010 at 9:14am

My mistake, I just looked at your profile and see you are building a 7 series. I just assumed you were building a 6 series - sorry I should have looked earlier. The files will do you no good, but if you are interested in seeing a sample just to get an idea of the process, I'll be happy to send some.

Comment by Doug Moellering on August 2, 2010 at 9:03am

Microsoft Visio is their graphics program. It is part of the Office Suite, but not really all that popular. If you check their website, they offer a free viewer that plugs into Internet Explorer. Since the files were created in Visio, if you want to make any changes, that will have to be in a full copy of Visio. After looking at what I had though, I found that I still had .dwg and .dxf versions of these files for the wing ribs. The reason that I had those is that I had to have them printed by a commercial copy/graphics house since they were way to big for my printer. The cost was only about $20 though for all the forms, so not a big deal. One more tip, each form block drawing has a line in the drawing that lets you determine if the printer being used is enlarging or reducing. Use it. I had to print about 5 or 6 test sheets at the commercial house to zero in the dimensional accuracy. The hardest pieces to make are the nose ribs. You'll generate plenty of scrap learning to tease the nose edge aroung the form. I'll suggest you coat your nose rib forms with some polyurethane varnish to harden them up. But once you get the knack, its really not too hard. The other tip is on flat flanges, don't just hammer them over; use a piece of scrap wood, long enough to cover the whole flange, between your hammer and the flange. That will produce a MUCH smoother flange. Requires no tedious adjusting.

You can hardly believe how much you'll have invested in tools before this is done. I took a halfway approach in that I am fabbing wing ribs, sheet metal, etc, but I bought the spars, and any other pieces that look tough to make. In hindsight, I'm not really sure I saved any money after buying all the tools (the worst part is that many of the tools are really not that good - some advice in terms of flanging tools, seaming tools, shears, deburring tools, etc. would have gone a long way in holding down the expense). We'll see. The good thing is that I can sell most of them when I'm finished (still a ways to go, though).

Send me your email address and I'll send the files. Mine is dfmoeller@austin.rr.com.

Comment by Casey Zechmann on August 1, 2010 at 8:34pm
Tell me more about this Microsoft Visio format. Is this a drafting software program?
Comment by Casey Zechmann on August 1, 2010 at 8:32pm
yes, absolutely I would love to see the form files. Thanks a ton for the input! I am going this week to buy the ply and get started making the formers. I now have all the tools I think I need. lots of money in just tools.
Comment by Doug Moellering on August 1, 2010 at 9:54am

1. Dave Clay's brake is easily the most bang for the buck. Several scratch builders have built and used this design. It is simple to build, cheap, and best of all, gets the job done. I know he put his design out on the web as an aid to other scratch builders. If you can't find the plans on the web, email me, or better yet, contact Dave. I believe he has moved on to a sonex project, but you should still be able to find an email for him. He used to be active on the Matronics list. Or, a simple google search for Dave Clay's brake should return the plans.

2. As far as the form materials go, I had excellent luck with high quality (multiple laminations) 3/4" plywood, after a bad start with MDF. Whatever you use, the trick is to:
a. make 1:1 paper outline of the form and glue it to your material (make sure its accurate - I have most of the files to do this in Microsoft Visio format. If you don't have Visio, Microsoft offers a free viewer at their website).
b. cut your material almost to the outline.
c. sand your material to the outline at 90 degrees.
d. put the 1/8" radius on the bending edge with a router (in a router table is best).
e. mark a line 1/8" from the edge.
f. sand your over-bend allowance (for springback - about 8 degrees seemed to work well for me, but its really not critical) up to the marked line.
Done. Just be carefull not to reverse the order of d and e/f. Others have and can't figure out why the parts wind up undersized. Let me know if you'd like to use the form files.

Doug Moellering

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