Sheet Metal Hand Tools Used in Aviation - Red Box Tools

You won’t get very far as an aircraft sheet metal technician without aviation sheet metal tools. Used to cut, drill, stretch, and shape, aviation sheet metal tools are essential for jobs involving aircraft maintenance and engineering.

One of the worst mistakes you can make when shopping for sheet metal aviation tools is to confuse them with sheet metal tools for the automotive industry. Although they may look similar, automotive and aviation sheet metal tools are not the same (as you’ll soon learn).

To help you avoid this common mishap, we’ve compiled this essential aircraft sheet metal tools list, detailing all the aviation tools you’ll need to service and maintain aircrafts like a pro.

aircraft sheet metal tools

What are Sheet Metal Tools Used for in Aviation?

Sheet metal tools serve many purposes in the aviation industry, from helping to shape and cut metal components like wing and tail flaps, to drilling the holes for rivets to slot into.

As most aircrafts are constructed from duralumin (a strong but lightweight aluminium alloy), aviation sheet metal tools – unlike their automotive equivalents – are purpose-built to handle this toughened metal. This is the main reason why you cannot substitute aviation sheet metal tools for automotive sheet metal tools.

What are the Aircraft Sheet Metal Technician’s Duties?

Aircraft sheet metal technicians play a critical role in the assembly and maintenance of aircrafts. Using a range of aerospace graded sheet metal tools and schematics, they manage the complex task of ensuring an aircraft is structurally sound and fit to fly.

A passion for aviation is a common trait among aircraft sheet metal technicians, but the role also requires an analytical mind, a keen eye for detail, and – of course – proficiency with aviation sheet metal tools.

Sheet Metal Hand Tools Used in Aviation

1. Riveting Tools

Most metal aircraft are assembled using rivets so riveting tools rank highly on the list of essential aviation tools.

Some of the key riveting tools you’ll need in your kit include a rivet gun, rivet cutter, hand riveters and long arm riveter, as well as a combination of solid and blind rivets.


2. Punching Tools

Aviation punching tools come in a few different varieties, each with their own purpose. In the main, punches help sheet metal technicians to mark metals for drilling, to recreate patterns, or to drive out damaged rivets and other fastener types.

Some of the common and most useful punching tools for aerospace assembly and maintenance include wad punches, a punch and die, and a hand punch kit.

wad punch

3. Aviation Snips

Aviation snips bear a striking resemblance to garden shears. They have a handle at one end and a sharp cutting blade, that enables the user to cut left, right, and straight, at the other end.

Among their many uses, aviation snips or shears are ideal for forming fuselages and other aviation components that require irregular cuts.

aviation snip

4. Hand Seamer

Hand seamers are another handheld tool that no aviation sheet metal technician could live without.

Formed of precision aligned machined-jaws and a comfort-grip handle, a hand seamer is designed to help you to bend, curve, or straighten sheet metal with maximum ease and minimal effort.

hand seamer

5. Non-Marring Hammer

Non-marring hammers are an excellent choice for metal working. For aviation applications, opt for one in a non-sparking material like brass or a lightweight fibreglass, which are sturdy enough to tease fasteners in without marking them.

A dead blow hammer is a non-marring hammer type that’s custom made for metal working. Containing hundreds of pieces of metal shot, dead blow hammers deliver an impactful blow without any bounce.

dead blow hammer

6. Dinging Hammer

A dinging hammer is the ideal tool for knocking out dents in sheet metals.

This hammer type can help you to turn a mottled looking or dented metal component smooth again, perfect if you’ve accidentally over-striked or you’re trying to knock out visible surface damage.

dinging hammer

7. Hand Files & Rasps

When you’re working with sheet metal, it always pays to have a sturdy set of hand files and rasps close by.

With metals prone to sharp edges, a file or rasp can help you to quickly and efficiently smooth back the raw surface of the metal.

hand files set

8. C-Clamps & Locking Pliers

C-clamps and locking pliers are a lifesaver when you need both of your hands free to work. A C-Clamp holds components in place with the help of a rotating screw that can be tightened to accommodate different depths of material.

Locking pliers, on the other hand, are perfect for when you’re working on wires. Once in position, the pliers can be securely locked in place, so you can release both of your hands to work.


9. Drill Driver, Arbors and Drill Bits

Holesaws are the perfect tool for cutting precision holes into sheet metals. With something as hardwearing and structurally intact as Duralumin, we recommend using a set of step drill bits to help you gradually increase the size of the hole.

Countersink drill bits are another perfect tool for creating holes in tough sheet metals. The bit helps to smooth away and remove burrs from the rough metal edging, allowing for quick cutting and easy chip ejection.

holesaw set

10. Deburring Tools

Freshly cut sheet metals can be razor sharp to touch, which is why no aviation sheet metal technician would be without a good set of deburring tools. These tools work to debur the sharp edges that are a consequence of cutting metal, helping to make the sheet metals safer to handle. A good chip chaser will help you to clear any fallen metal chips that have lodged between a stack of metal sheets you’ve been drilling.

An edge breaker will remove roughness and burrs from the raw edge of sheet metal while a pen reamer will help you to smooth out and soften the edges of freshly drilled holes.

pen reamer

11. Cleco Fasteners and Cleco Pliers

Cleco fasteners and Cleco pliers are tools you can use to firmly grip two sections of sheet metal together at times when you need to drill, glue, mark, or rivet both pieces in alignment.

They’re used in the automotive industry for a similar purpose, so when selecting Clecos for aircraft assembly or maintenance, it’s important to check the tool grade is aerospace compliant.

cleco pliers

12. Wire Twisting Pliers

Wire twisting pliers are a nimble handheld tool that sheet metal technicians use to grip and twist lengths of metal wire.

The plier has a compass-like appearance and manually twists the metal wire using a rotating motion, controlled by pulling a retractable knob that sits on a cylinder between the plier’s handles.

wire twisting pliers

13. Dimpling Pliers

Dimpling pliers or dimple pliers allow you to create a precise and concentrated countersunk depression (dimple) into metal.

Dimpling pliers for the aerospace industry are used to create a flush and reinforced surface for rivets to sit in. Other benefits of dimpling sheet metals include reduced weight and improved structural integrity.

dimpling pliers

14. Dimple Die Set

A dimple die set allows you to create dimples of different ratios and propositions. This enables you to gain greater accuracy in your work and achieve dimples of a much wider or more concentrated circumference, depending on how big or small you need the surface depression in the metal to be.

Dimple die sets compress the metal into the die cavity with the help of a press or hydraulic component.

dimple die set

15. Marking and Measuring Tools

Marking and measuring tools such as scribers, gauges, and strap duplicators (nicknamed ‘hole finders’) allow you to confidently align holes into sheet metals with precision accuracy.

Such precise alignment in aviation is important as it affects the structural integrity of the aircraft, so there can be no room for error.

strap duplicator

Popular Sheet Metal Tool Kits

An ergonomic tool trolly or metal tool cabinet is the perfect way to store and protect your aircraft tool supply. We offer a number of aviation tool kits, kitted out with a wide selection of specialist aerospace grade tools for sheet metal working.

Check out our most popular sheet metal aviation tool kits below or see a wider selection on our website.

RBT250T Aviation Sheet metal tool kit



RBT250C Aviation Sheet metal tool kit



Ready to get organised?

Find your perfect tool storage from our professional range

From tool bags and tool chests to tool boxes with wheels, tool belts, tool cases, and trade-specific tool storage, at Red Box Tools we offer high-quality solutions you can count on.

Or why not take your tool storage to the next level with our made-to-order tool box foam drawer inserts and custom shadow foaming?

Suppliers To

We Accept

Mastercard, Visa, AMEX, Apple Pay, Google Pay