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What kind of Aircraft Mechanic Tools do I really need?

Updated on February 9, 2015

Aircraft Mechanic Tools

In order to be a successful aircraft mechanic, you need to have the correct tools for the job.

This basic tool list that I am about to present you with contains the basic hand tools that an aircraft mechanic needs to have.

This is the exact same list of tools that was required when I started learning Airframe and Powerplants in A&P school. These same tools are a good starting point for aircraft mechanics who are new to the industry or want to build up their own set of tools.

Last but not least, feel free to sign my guest book and leave any comments you might have at the bottom of the page. I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy!

Say No to Metrics!

Most aircraft use standard size AN bolts and fittings. It is quite rare to find metric sizes when working on aircraft. Keep this in mind when buying your tools. There is no need to spend extra money on metric tools unless you know for sure you will be working on one of the few aircraft models that uses metrics.

Screwdrivers, Pliers, Combination Wrenches, and Misc Tools
Screwdrivers, Pliers, Combination Wrenches, and Misc Tools

Screwdrivers

It is highly suggested that you get some screwdrivers that are easy to grip and hold. As you can see from my picture, I started with some plastic handled screwdrivers, and when my hands got oily or greasy, there was no way to keep a good grip. I tried some of my friend's rubber handled screwdrivers, and it made my life as a mechanic much easier.

  • 4" No. 1 Phillips
  • 2" No. 2 Phillips
  • 6" No. 2 Phillips
  • 8" No. 2 Phillips
  • 2" Standard Flathead
  • 4" Standard Flathead
  • 6" Standard Flathead
  • 8" Standard Flathead
  • Offset Phillips
  • Offset Standard Flathead

Pliers

The importance of these pliers can not be stressed enough. Almost everything on aircraft is safety wired or safeguarded with cotter pins. You definitely want to have some pliers handy if you plan on removing and replacing these.

Matco's diagonal cutting pliers seem to break at the tips fairly easy compared to other brands.

  • 6" Diagonal Cutting Pliers
  • 4" Needle Nose Pliers
  • 8" Duck-Bill Pliers (aka Slip Joint Pliers)
  • 10" Channel Lock Pliers (Optional)

Combination Wrenches

You will probably use these the most.

I see a lot of bolts on aircraft. Along with a good ratchet, a set of trusty combination wrenches is a must if you want to get the job done. Some brands tend to make their wrenches longer.

I can't remember if it's Matco or Snap-on, but one of those companies makes their wrenches about an inch longer than normal. I suggest you try to find a brand that makes their wrenches shorter if you want to have more accessibility in small and hard to reach places.

  • 1/4" through 1"
  • 10" Adjustable Wrench

Hammers, Files, Punches, Chisels, Sheet Metal Snips, and Hex Key Set (Allen Wrench Set)
Hammers, Files, Punches, Chisels, Sheet Metal Snips, and Hex Key Set (Allen Wrench Set)

Hammers

Hammers aren't used too often. The two main hammers that I see used in the aircraft maintenance industry is the dead blow hammer and the plastic tip hammer.

It would be wise to get a plastic tip hammer that allows for easy removal and replacement of the tips. You will save money replacing worn out tips instead of replacing the whole hammer every time.

  • 6 oz. Ball-Peen Hammer
  • 12 oz. Ball-Peen Hammer
  • 6 oz. Plastic Tip Hammer
  • 12 oz. Plastic Tip Hammer
  • 12 oz. Dead Blow Hammer

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Files

  • 10" Mill File
  • 8" Half-Round Bastard
  • 8" Round Bastard
  • File Handle, Adjustable
  • File Card

Punches & Chisels

When working on airframes, having a chisel is very important for easy removal of rivets.

  • 3/8" Center Punch
  • 3/32" Pin Punch
  • 1/8" Pin Punch
  • 5/32" Pin Punch
  • 5/32" Taper Punch
  • 3/16" Taper Punch
  • 3/8" Chisel

Soldering Iron and Hacksaw Aircraft Mechanic Tools
Soldering Iron and Hacksaw Aircraft Mechanic Tools

Other Tools

Don't forget about these!

These are just as important as all of the other tools. I combined these tools into one category so that you could easily find them.

  • Hacksaw
  • Sheet Metal Snips
    • Left, Right, and Straight Cut
  • Soldering Iron 30/45 Watts (Pen Type)
  • Telescoping or Flexible Magnet
  • Flexible Head Mirror
  • Folding Blade Knife
  • Allen Wrench Set
  • Feeler Gauge Set
  • 6" and 12" Pocket Scale (Rulers)
  • Flashlight
  • 6" and 9" Safety Wire Pliers

Safety Wire Pliers - They don't have to be expensive.

Safety wire pliers normally cost around $90 for a single pair and $170 for a set.

Luckily, I have found some really good deals on these single most expensive hand tools.

Sheet Metal Snips - These don't have to be expensive either.

Like safety wire pliers, tin snips can also be an expensive hand tool.

Here are some pretty good deals I have found for sheet metal snips.

This is Just the Beginning

Remember this...

Keep in mind, this is just a starting point. This was a list of a basic aircraft mechanic's tool set. The more you work on aircraft, the need for more tools will become apparent. Treat your tools as a collection, and add more to your collection as your budget and time allows.

Feel free to start a discussion with me or interact with other members of the community who have visited this page. Let the world know you were here, and leave any advice that might be helpful to others.

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    • profile image

      mike 23 months ago

      Nice list!

    • Bovidix profile image

      Bovidix 4 years ago

      Wow, this is such a comprehensive guide for someone interested in a career as an airplane mechanic. Excellent advice, particularly about the use of metric sizes being uncommon. Great lens, thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      thank you for this wonderful website. I used it with my students (they are learning to be plane mechanics) to discuss tools. They loved it.