Layout Tools - Aircraft Structural Repair | Aircraft Systems

Layout Tools - Aircraft Structural Repair

Before fitting repair parts into an aircraft structure, the new sections must be measured and marked, or laid out to the dimensions needed to make the repair part. Tools utilized for this process are discussed in this section.


Scales are available in various lengths, with the 6-inch and 12-inch scales being the most common and affordable. A scale with fractions on one side and decimals on the other side is very useful. To obtain an accurate measurement, measure with the scale held on edge from the 1-inch mark instead of the end. Use the graduation marks on the side to set a divider or compass. [Figure 1]

Tools for Sheet Metal Construction and Repair
Figure 1. Scales

Combination Square

A combination square consists of a steel scale with three heads that can be moved to any position on the scale and locked in place. The three heads are a stock head that measures 90° and 45° angles, a protractor head that can measure any angle between the head and the blade, and a center head that uses one side of the blade as the bisector of a 90° angle. The center of a shaft can be found by using the center head. Place the end of the shaft in the V of the head and scribe a line along the edge of the scale. Rotate the head about 90° and scribe another line along the edge of the scale. The two lines will cross at the center of the shaft. [Figure 2]

Aircraft Metal Structure Repair layout tools
Figure 2. Combination square


Dividers are used to transfer a measurement from a device to a scale to determine its value. Place the sharp points at the locations from which the measurement is to be taken. Then, place the points on a steel machinist’s scale, but put one of the points on the 1-inch mark and measure from there. [Figure 3]

Aircraft Metal Structure Repair layout tools
Figure 3. Divider

Rivet Spacers

A rivet spacer is used to make a quick and accurate rivet pattern layout on a sheet. On the rivet spacer, there are alignment marks for 1⁄2-inch, 3⁄4-inch, 1-inch and 2-inch rivet spacing. [Figure 4]

Aircraft Metal Structure Repair layout tools
Figure 4. Rivet spacer

Marking Tools
Cutting Tools
Hole Drilling
Forming Tools
Rivet Installation Tools