Hey guys.  I just made my first parts this weekend and have already come to a head scratcher.  I have my rudder frame all clecoed together ready to fit skins.  My question is,  what is the best way to drill the skins?  Is it better to drill them before I even test fit them, or put them on and try to find the rib locatons some other way? 

     I guess I probley look foolish asking this question and being a plans builder but I dont know what to do next.  Any help would really help me get further in my build.  Thanks  Jesse.


Views: 248


You need to be a member of Zenith Aircraft Builders and Flyers to add comments!

Join Zenith Aircraft Builders and Flyers

Comment by Gary Lee Weber on February 6, 2012 at 12:22pm


There's more than one way to skin a cat.(or rudder in this case)  Here is what I did.  I took a piece of heavy non- corrugated cardboard and laid out the right side rivet lines and spacing on it.  I drilled holes through the cardboard and used this pattern/templet to make sure everything lined up on the rib and spar centerlines.  Once everything looked good I laid this on my rudder blank and drilled right through the holes into the blank and table. if you drill into your table you can put a few clecos in to hold everything lined up.  once the right side was done I flipped the templet and did the left.  I then bent the blank on the center line.  

In hindsight it would have been better to bend the blank and drill both sides at the same time.

Mistakes are inevitable.  Made three #2 and  two #1 ribs before I was happy with them.

Also, good Idea from Phil to leave the trailing edge holes until later.

Have fun and remember you can always make small parts from botched up larger ones.

Comment by Joe Harrington on February 5, 2012 at 10:36pm

Phil has it correct. The trick is to get shared holes all in the correct location. By this, I mean the hole in rear skin, the leading edge skin, and the rudder spar will all share the same rivet. You have to think ahead where everything will be. Once you yet the hang of it, the methodology is the same all the way through the project. You WILL make some mistakes, especially early on. Don't sweat it. Many mistakes can be fixed or compensated for and the ones that can't, then simply remake the part. All part of scratch building...

Also to add to Phil's procedure, draw a centerline down the rib flanges which you will line up through the rivet line holes in the skin. This is how you correctly position the rib inside the skin for drilling. Hope this makes sense..

Good Luck!


Comment by Phill Barnes on February 5, 2012 at 7:10pm


If you lay out your rivet lines on one side of the skin, using a pitch guage and a 3/32" bit, drill right through both layers of metal. When you get to the trailing edge holes, it may be worth leaving these till later to check where they fall on the rib to make sure there is enough distance between the flanges of the rib to accomodate the rivet bodies back to back. Alternatively, stagger the the these holes by 5-10mm. Be sure to use gentle pressure when drilling through the skins particulary if you have a soft surface undneath like cardboard. As long as you have positioned the ribs in their exact location in reference to the plans and use the same measurements and rib angles on the skins, then all will be well. Happy building.



Comment by Jesse Hartman on February 5, 2012 at 7:07pm

im building a ch 750 from plans. the manual is set up for kit builders.

Comment by Marvin W Miller on February 5, 2012 at 4:31pm

Are You building a Zodiac 650? If so and You have Your rudder frame clecoed together. Next step, disassemble, deburr, and rivit it together. I am assuming You have the rudder kit. You just have to read and study the manual You got with it. follow their steps and You will come out with a good rudder.

New from Zenith:

Zenith Planes For Sale 

Classified listing for buying or selling your Zenith building or flying related stuff...


Weather Maps

Custom Instrument Panels
for your Zenith

Custom instrument panels are now available directly from Zenith Aircraft Company exclusively for Zenith builders and owners. Pre-cut panel, power distribution panel, Approach Fast Stack harnesses, Dynon and Garmin avionics, and more.

Custom Upholstery Kits for your Zenith Aircraft:

Zenith Vinyl Upholstery Kits

Zenith Apparel from EAA:

Zenair Floats

Flying On Your Own Wings:
A Complete Guide to Understanding Light Airplane Design, by Chris Heintz

Builder & Pilot Supplies:

How to videos from HomebuiltHELP.com

Developed specifically for Zenith builders (by a builder) these videos on DVD are a great help in building your own kit plane by providing practical hands-on construction information. Visit HomebuiltHelp.com for the latest DVD titles.

Aircraft Insurance:


West Coast USA:

Pro Builder Assistance:


Transition training:

Golden Eagle Aviation

Pianosa Flying Farm

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty for all your building and pilot supplies!

© 2020   Created by Zenith.Aero.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service