Ultimate tool guide

Getting into the hobby, or just looking for the better tools to buy? Equipping your workshop to build and assemble model sailplanes can be very simple.

I have compiled a guide of what I feel are the best tools and equipment, ones I often use around the workshop building radio control models, and have included the link and quick review of the product. I always buy new tools and equipment to try out, and will update the list periodically as I find even better options. The list is separated into Essential and Makes life easier sections, based on how often it is used in the workshop.

armsoar dlg tool guide


#11 knife holder
High quality construction and very good diameter, very steady to hold and use, doesn't roll around the table. I picked mine up on a trip to Japan and have replaced all my old #11 x-acto knife holders with this one. Get a good knife like this one, you'll be using it a lot.

Find it here -> OLFA Cushion Grip Art Knife 

#11 blades: Superb value, I've also used this particular one for several years now. I tried another brand recently but the quality was not even close, next time I run out of blades I will be buying the Techni Edge again. Buy 2 or 3 boxes and it'll last you a long time.

Find it here -> Techni Edge TE01-111 11 Hobby Blades 100 Pack 

Dremel (wireless): The second most-used item in the workshop after your OLFA knife is going to be a rotary tool. I've used about 6 different rotary tools and this is probably the one I use most often right now. Enough power for all our needs, and very portable. This was my first wireless rotary tool, I have 1 smaller one (less powerful) from China, but this is the one I use the most. Wired Dremels are thing of the past, wireless just makes life so much easier.  

Find it here -> Dremel 8050-N/18 Micro Rotary Tool Kit with 18 Accessories

Dremel chuck: This is a MUST HAVE accessory for your Dremel. The keyless chuck lets you change to different diameter bits quickly and hassle-free, I don't know why Dremel ships with collet nut system rather than this. You will not regret this purchase. 

Find it here -> Dremel 4486 MultiPro Keyless Chuck

Assorted drill bits 
All the drill bit sizes you'll need. Use the appropriate metric drill bit to make sure you have tight slop-free holes for pushrods. Since most models are made in metric-based countries, you will need this metric set of bits.

Find it here -> 20Pcs 0.3mm-1.6mm Mini HSS Micro Steel Twist Drill Bit Set Model Craft With Case Repair Parts
Assorted diamond burrs: Another accessory for your Dremel, you'll use this just as much as your drill bits to clear out holes in your models, especially in fuselage installations and throwing blade installations on your wings.


Find it here -> SE 8230DD60 30-Piece Set of Assorted Diamond Burrs, 600 Grit


Small pliers: My most used set of pliers in the workshop, perfect size for most jobs and good quality from Stanley.

Find it here -> Stanley 84-096 5-Inch Needle Nose Plier

Pliers: My least used set of pliers in the workshop, but essential when bending heavier wires for some wing installations and for ballast rods. The Wiha set is a little pricier than most, but the quality is superb. I love mine.

Find it here -> Wiha 30911 6.3 Inches Ergo Soft Grip Industrial Long Nose Pliers

Xuron tweezer nose pliers: My second most used set of pliers in the workshop, great for delicate wire bending and model assembly. I'm quite happy with Xuron build quality. After my first pair I got another two pairs just to make sure I always have one around even if I lose one at the field.

Find it here -> Xuron 450 Tweezer Nose Plier 

Xuron tool kit: 3-tool kit from Xuron including the Tweezer nose pliers above, in a little canvas case/bag. I always have this tool kit in my bag, of the three I use the tweezer nose pliers the most but have had numerous situations on the field where the other two tools were the perfect application.

Find it here -> Xuron - TK3200 Professional Modeler's Tool Kit

Xuron wire cutter: Priceless tool for cutting thicker wire, makes cutting 1.5mm wire very repeatable and effortless. Best of all it is durable and repeatedly gives clean cuts. Quite a few friends have bought this one and love it.

Find it here -> Xuron 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper

Xuron adjustable wire stripper: Extremely useful in the workshop when working with wires. Can be adjusted in small increments by turning the dial to match the wire size you are working with. Quite often the wires that come with servos/etc are not marked with gauge, so the adjustment dial is very handy.

Find it here -> Xuron 2193F Hard Wire and Music Wire Cutter, with Retaining Clips

Clamp: I haven't tried a whole ton of different clamps, but I have four of these and they do everything I need of it. Great for holding down parts while the glue cures, such as servos, servo trays, T-blades (I put a piece of foam on each side of the wingtip and clamp 2-wide to make sure there is some pressure between blade and skin).

Find it here -> Bessey XCRU5 Deep Reach Ratcheting Spring Clamp 4_Inch capacity, 4-Inch Throat Depth

Tweezers : It's not easy finding a quality set of tweezers. These are OK, but the black coating can become chipped after a few months of usage. Luckily that doesn't affect their use, and if they ever need replacing (it'll last you years and years) it's pretty cheap. The needle nose tweezers are quite useful during the build and model assembly at the field, mostly in grabbing wires from inside the fuselage and hooking them on to the control horns.

Find it here -> PIXNOR Tweezers 7-piece Precision Anti-static ESD Stainless Steel Tweezers for Electronics, Jewelry-making, Laboratory Work, Hobbies

Phillips and slotted screwdriver set: Great set of Phillips and slotted screwdrivers for servo screws, wing bolts, and anything else using Phillips head screws (d'uh!), and the slotted ones come in handy once a while. Good quality, and I haven't noticed any wear on the heads after a few years of usage.

Find it here -> Wiha 7 Pc. Slotted & Phillips Precision Screwdriver Set

Hex screwdriver set : You probably noticed my love for Wiha products by now. Another must-have set of tools, most DLG's are coming with 2.0mm hex screws nowadays, but sometimes they come with 1.5mm or 2.5mm ends. The ball ends make it easier to use. Have had mine for a few years as well, and have not noticed any wear on the heads.

Find it here -> Wiha 26491 5-Piece Ball Metric End Hex Driver Set

Kitchen scale (0.01 grams): These are re-branded for a lot of different brands. Essential for mixing epoxy, especially higher-end epoxies where their ratios are not 1:1. I bought 2 or 3 the first time 5 or 6 years ago, and recently bought 10 more. In the 5 or 6 years I've been using them (and I use it a LOT) I have only had 1 malfunction. I buy multiples because sometimes they can get quite dirty with all the glues and dust that I just replace it when it gets too nasty, and I like having one in the house, on my office desk, a couple in my workshop, etc. 500 grams is enough even for ballasted DLG's, and 0.01 gram precision for better epoxy ratio accuracy.

Find it here -> Amir 500g/0.01g Digital Kitchen Scale, High-precision Pocket Food Scale, Multifunctional Pro Scale with Back-Lit LCD Display, Tare, PCS Features, Stainless Steel

Digital caliper: 

A re-branded version of the set I have been using for 5 or 6 years. One of the few tools in my workshop that still looks and works exactly the way it did when I first bought it. I've changed the battery once (they give you an extra one) recently. Essential tool in the workshop to precisely measure lengths, diameters, etc, for example measuring wire diameters precisely to choose the correct drill bit, correctly measuring servo arm to control horn ratios, and many other uses.

Find it here -> Digital Caliper Kit - Effortless To Use - Precision Measurements on Large LCD Display - Zero to 6"/150mm - BONUS 26-Blade Feeler Gauge

Metal straightedge: One of the most basic tools in the workshop. I prefer these rulers without the cork backing for precision. To make sure they don't move, I tape it to the part with some 3M blue painter's tape/masking tape.

 Find it here -> eBoot Stainless Steel Ruler 12 Inch + 6 Inch Metal Rule Kit with Conversion Table

Solder station: Another re-branded product, it was recommended to me by a senior electronic engineer friend and have worked flawlessly for me. Good value.

Find it here -> YiHUA 936 Adjustable Constant-Temperature Soldering Station + Soldering Iron Kit

Helping hand: Extremely useful especially when soldering wires and connectors. Not the best one out there, but great value and does everything it's supposed to do. To get anything marginally better will set you back an extra $15-$30 USD.

Find it here -> SE MZ101B Helping Hand with Magnifying Glass

Cutting mat: I've tried several sizes, but always end up putting them back into storage and using my A1 sheets (yeah, I have several A1 sheets!), the larger size just makes building so much easier since you don't have to un-clutter and move it around every 5 minutes when you're building something

Find it here -> Self-Healing CUTTING MATS - 4 SIZES AVAILABLE! Reversible Inches and Centimeters - thoughtful design - 5 layer mat, finest available (Size A4 - 9" x 12")

 Assorted rough diamond files : Can't go wrong with these, great price and will last you ages. Remove big chunks of material with your Dremel, smaller pieces with these 150 grit files, and 400-600 grit files for detail. Especially useful when drilling out fuselage holes, wingtip holes for the launch blades, and roughing up control horns.

Find it here -> SE 73810DF 10-Piece Mini Diamond File Set, 150 Grit

 Assorted fine diamond files: Perfect for final touches, cleaning up some imperfections, and making sure everything is nice and smooth. I use it to finish up the holes in the fuselage, wingtips, and to make sure the throwing blades are super smooth for the fingers, control horn holes are perfectly smooth so it doesn't cut into the string/wires, etc.

Find it here -> Tentop PTF-100 Diamond File, 10-Piece set(200 Grit / 400 Grit/600 Grit )

 200 grit sandpaper: One pack of these will last you a lifetime. I only use it when roughing up the inside of the fuselage to prep the servo tray installation, and to rough up the end of the boom to prep it for the vertical tail installation. Much easier than any other tool.

Find it here -> 3M SandBlaster Between Coats Sandpaper, 220-Grit, 9-Inch by 11-Inch

3M mask: Carbon and fiberglass dust is quite harmful, whenever I need to remove material I make sure I have a vacuum suction close to the action, and wear a mask to make sure I don't inhale any of the dust particles that didn't get sucked into the vacuum. Super essential for your long term health.

Find it here -> 3M(TM) Half Facepiece Respirator Assembly 6291/07002(AAD), Medium, with 3M(TM) Particulate Filters 2091/07000(AAD), P100

Multimeter: A relatively expensive piece of equipment, but very good quality. Recommended to me by several electronic engineering friends as a standard in their space. You'll need this when troubleshooting model problems with servos, receivers, etc.

Find it here -> Fluke 15b+ Digital Multimeter F15b+ Latest Version

 B6AC charger: Good value charger, lots of features, and doesn't need a separate power brick. Useful when charging non-1S lithium batteries and NiMH transmitter batteries, and when conditioning/maintaining all your battery packs periodically.

Find it here -> Genuine SKYRC iMAX B6AC V2 Dual Power (6Amps,50Watts) LiPo,LiHV,LiIon,LiFe,NiCd,NiMH,Pb Lead Acid AC/DC Professional RC Balancing Battery Charger & Discharger (Version 2) w/ Micro USB Port

1S LiPo charging chip: Pretty much everyone is using 1S LiPo packs in their DLG's nowadays, and one of the reasons is how easy it has made charging. This chip requires you to solder on some JR and/or JST leads. Once soldered and heat-shrunk, all you need to do is plug it into a USB powerbank on one end, and your 1S LiPo on the other end, and it charges! No buttons, no further action needed. Plug it in, and it charges until full.

Find it here -> CHENBO 10 Pcs 5V Micro USB 1A 18650 TP4056 Lithium Battery Charging Board With Protection Charger Module

 Makes life easier


Rachet wrench and taps : A re-branded version of the only ratchet wrench I've owned, I don't use it often but it works well. Good value and build quality is not bad. I don't think you need an expensive one since it's rarely used, but will make your life much easier. Sometimes bolt holes are not fully tapped, blocked by glue, or the factory simply forgot to tap it. It's possible to slowly and painfully use a M3 screw to 'tap' it, but it's hard work and sometimes you might actually crack the nut/hardpoint. The ratchet feature really makes it so much faster, and the crossbar makes it much more manageable in particularly tough materials.

Find it here -> Tonsiki Adjustable M3-M8 3mm-8mm HSS T-Handle Reversible Ratchet Wrench Tapping Threading Tool with Hand Screw Tap

Crimper tool: I have been using mine for several years and I love it. A crimper isn't a must, you can shorten/length wires by soldering the wires, but having a crimper makes it SO much easier and nicer. I bought mine from a popular hobby source, it is the exact one as this one from Amazon, but it's about 40% cheaper on Amazon! Not to mention great service and fast shipping.

Find it here -> HT-225D Full Cycle Ratchet Crimping Tool with interchangeable die set HT-225D

Hand drill: Useful for very precise drilling through soft material, especially paired with the next item on the list, drilling through foam core wings. Comes with some extra drill bits, but lacks the 1.5mm drill bit (don't worry, you already have a 1.5mm drill bit from the assorted drill bit package above in the Essentials section.

Find it here -> Smart Fun Precision Pin Vise Model Hand Drill Set Micro Twist Drill Bits Rotary Tools Set of 11

Extra long drill bit: You only really need one, but the 10pc pack is such a good deal at less than $6.50 USD. Very useful for making pushrod tunnels in the wing for top-drive wing installations in solid core wings. Give one to your buddy and he'll give you a year's supply of cold beer (maybe).

Find it here -> 10 Pcs Straight Shank 95mm Flute Long 1.5mm Dia Drill Twist Bit

Disc sander: A luxury item in my workshop, I have 5 or 6 Proxxon power tools but this is by far the most useful. The rest kind of sits around and gathers dust. Especially useful for putting a slight point to pushrod ends, trimming down carbon/fiberglass servo trays for perfect fit, and a whole bunch of other tasks. Definitely not essential, but makes life easier. Awesome Proxxon quality.

Find it here -> Proxxon 38060 Disc Sander TSG 250E

Variable power supply: Very similar variable power supply as mine, with great reviews and good value. Useful when testing stuff on the bench, for example, providing power to the servo tester to bench test servos, providing accurate variable power to receivers and servos to test their useful operation voltage range, etc. 

Find it here -> DC Power Supply Variable, Eventek KPS305D Adjustable Switching Regulated Power Supply Digital, 0-30 V 0-5 A with Alligator Leads US Power Cord

Bench cookie: These are quite useful in keeping some parts still or cushioned when you work on them. Not essential, you can use blocks of foam to have the same function, but they are used quite often in my workshop.

Find it here -> Bench Dog 10-035 Bench Cookie Work Grippers, 4-Pack

Drill press: I don't actually own this one, but have used it and will be buying one soon. 14cm of useful depth, more than enough for what we do, but not too big to take up valuable space at home and in the workshop. Not essential, and in my eyes a slight luxury item in the workshop, but makes life so easy when you need accurately drilled holes. Very well built Proxxon product.

Find it here -> PROXXON table drill No.28128

Magnetizer / demagnetizer: The only magnetizer/demagnetizer I've used, but I have found it quite useful, especially when the screwdrivers lose their magnetic properties after a while. Good quality Wiha product.

Find it here -> Wiha 40010 Magnetizer or Demagnetizer

Flashforge Creator Pro 3D printer: Not an essential item but probably one of my better buys in recent times. I've been using mine for quite a while now, and it has worked flawlessly. No prior 3D printing experience required, but do need at least basic 3D modeling experience to make use of a 3D printer. The Creator Pro is very beginner friendly, and if you use their filament (fairly good quality and reasonably priced) you barely need any fine tuning to get started. I used their default settings for a few months before even starting to play with it. Especially useful for making small parts around the workshop, and even DLG parts such as servo frames for fuselage and wings, connector holders, alignment jigs, balancing stands... anything you can think of. Not essential, but I HIGHLY recommend getting one if you like to make your own things and have some extra change.

Find it here -> FlashForge 3d Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA

Flashforge black ABS filament: Original Flashforge black ABS filament. Prints very well with default printer settings on the Creator Pro, needs 0.5% increase scaling in all 3 axis for perfect sizing (ABS shrinks slightly). I use ABS for structural parts, such as servo frames.

Find it here -> 1.75mm Black ABS 3d Printer Filament-N.W.: 1kg Per Spool for FlashForge Creator series

Flashforge black PLA filament: Original Flashforge black PLA filament. Prints very well with default printer settings on the Creator Pro. I use it for parts that I use in the workshop and won't be exposed to very high temperatures (such as sitting in the car under the sun), such as alignment jigs, parts prototyping, etc.

Find it here -> 1.75mm Black PLA 3d Printer Filament-N.W.: 1kg Per Spool for FlashForge Creator series

Flashforge green PLA filament: Original Flashforge black PLA filament. One of the few colored filaments that work great with default settings on the Creator Pro. I use it for parts that I use in the workshop and won't be exposed to very high temperatures (such as sitting in the car under the sun), such as alignment jigs, parts prototyping, etc. 

Find it here -> 1.75mm PLA Green 3d Printer Filament-N.W.: 1kg Per Spool for FlashForge Creator series

Hatchbox black ABS filament: One of the best ABS filaments available for FDM 3D printing, Hatchbox ABS filaments are very very consistent and high quality, but needs some tweaking in the Creator Pro settings to get it to print perfectly (the default Creator Pro settings are for their own filaments I find).

Find it here -> HATCHBOX 3D ABS-1KG1.75-BLK ABS 3D Printer Filament, Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.05 mm, 1 kg Spool, 1.75 mm, Black

Pelican 1720 case for 2P DLG's: With Pelican's legendary status as a safe box maker, I entrust my split wing models to be transported in their case. The 1720 can carry 3 BAMF (2p) models with covers on.

Find it here -> Pelican 1720 Rifle Case With Foam (Black) 


I hope you find that useful! Just so you know, ArmSoar may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. Thanks for the support!