Chances are if you’re a car guy you’re also a tool junkie. Let’s face it, few things are more fun than working on your own car, and while it takes skill to produce great work, it also takes great tools. Luckily for us there are more tools available today than ever before, and tools that were once considered completely out of reach for the backyard shop are now affordable. Specialty companies are building tools scaled down to fit in your home shop, things like shears, brakes, and sandblasting cabinets are all available in sizes that will fit the confines of your shop. Sure, if you have the room there is nothing like a big commercial sheetmetal brake that will bend a full 8-foot sheet but realistically most of the sheetmetal work done in the home shop is under 3 feet, so a smaller brake will do the job just fine—and that’s just one example.

Likewise tools that were once considered exotic equipment are now affordable and that fit in a home garage. Things like plasma cutters and TIG welders were once reserved for high-end fabrication shops but are common fare in home shops today, but this is hardly big news. The trick is to find cool tools that will help you build a hot rod. To find quality tools, think about the people who do great fabrications, custom automotive shops and the entire aircraft industry. If you spend even a little bit of time around any aircraft you will be blown away by the quality of work and design that is incorporated in the aircraft. We already utilize a lot of things that came directly from the aircraft industry, things like tie-wraps, Adel clips, and even synthetic oil all came from the aircraft industry.

So it is no surprise that shopping for tools from aircraft tool suppliers will net you some very cool tools. We thought it would be fun to go shopping for some tools that are not the common garden variety stuff, tools that would have your hot rod friends saying, “Where did you get that?” We think these tools are well worth buying and when you get them you may wonder how you ever built a hot rod without one. So, “What’s in your toolbox?”

Better than measuring tape

Any hot rodder who has ever been near an airplane has seen the long lines of rivets. We always marveled at how straight and perfectly spaced the rivets were and now we have discovered the secret. It seems there is a tool that will evenly space holes without measuring a thing. Simply locate the first hole and then expand the accordion-style hole marker to the desired spacing. Then mark or center punch through the holes and you have perfectly spaced holes every time. We found this for sale at Airparts for under $40.

A shapely dolly

Oftentimes repairing sheetmetal requires compound curves, like wrapping around a radius on a curve, making a patch panel for a ’40 Ford fender comes to mind. Unfortunately, no one makes a dolly to match your particular repair but you can easily make a curved T-dolly with simple bar stock and flat stock welded together. And how do you get the proper radius? With that Contour Duplication Gauge you just purchased, of course.

Airparts, Inc
Sears Craftsman
Hoffman Estates
Aircraft Tool Supply
Aircraft Spruce
Jackson Safety
Woodward Fab
1480 Old US 23
PO Box 425
MI  48353