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Make a Magnetic Building Board System to Build Model Aircraft

March 01, 2016

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Airfield Models ( for Building Model Aircraft Using Magnets

These are some of the ways I use magnets and magnetic fixtures to make building faster and more accurate.

Magnets can be used to hold ribs square to the board.

Use magnets without metal plates to hold ribs in a vertical position.  This is a task that was much more tedious with pins.  Arrange the magnets such that they attract to each other and clamp the rib in between.

Adding the metal plates makes the magnets much stronger and they are good for applying pressure when needed.

Ceramic magnets are very fragile and break easily treat them gently.

Magnets provide pressure for a laminated outline. Magnets are being used to hold three laminations of 1/16" x 1/4" balsa to the balsa core.  The magnets without the plates are simply padding scraps of wood could have been used instead.  The clamping pressure is being applied by the magnets with the plates attached.
90 degree fixtures with magnets attached are excellent for building fuselages. These Fixtures are wonderful.  With each magnet having 12 lbs pull, these fixtures stay firmly in place.  The best way to remove the fixtures is to tilt them sideways rather than trying to slide them off the board.
Vertical presses apply clamping pressure. The Vertical Press attachments are easy to make and greatly enhance the functionality of the fixtures.

The presses can lift the fixtures from the board.  I have a "monster" fixture having extra magnets in the front so I can really crank down the presses when needed.

Strip magnets can be attached to a variety of things to make the system more functional. I found rolls of self-adhesive magnetic strip in the craft section at Wal-Mart for less than $3.00.  They carry two different widths at the local store.

You can also purchase magnetic strip from the Magnet Source while you are placing your order for the other magnets.

These strips can be attached to a variety of items that can be used with your board.

Magnetic strip attached to an aluminum extrusion. This aluminum extrusion now has a strip of magnet on it.  I frequently use straight edges to align parts as I lay them on the board as shown here and here.
Straight extrusion will help to align long, flexible structural members. The square extrusion on the right side of this photo did not have the magnetic strip attached when this photo was taken.  It is being held in place by magnets to the right of it.

Your local hardware store or places such as Home Depot have a variety of extruded shapes to choose from.

Fixtures used to hold a wing vertically for a variety of purposes. Use a few fixtures to hold the wing up for hinging.  The trailing edge of this wing is being fiberglassed.

A few scrap pieces of foam or a folded paper towel between the fixtures and the wing will prevent any possible damage.

Doodle Bug 330 designed by Wild Bill Netzeband.  The profile fuselage is locked vertically with fixtures while the horizontal stabilizer is glued on absolutely perpendicular to the fuselage. This is a Doodlebug 330 Control Line model designed by "Wild" Bill Netzeband.

The profile fuselage is held absolutely perpendicular to the board using strategically located fixture pairs.

The horizontal stabilizer is being glued in place.  To ensure it is perpendicular to the fuselage, two scraps of balsa were taped together and cut to the correct height to hold the stabilizer parallel to the building board while the glued dried.

The balsa fixtures are held in place by a pair of magnets arranged such that they attract to each other and clamp the balsa between them.

Magnetic wheel chocks are easy to make and very useful. An idea I came up with recently is magnetic wheel chocks.  On several occasions I've had the tail end of the fuselage roll off the edge of the bench when I was working on the other end causing some nasty hangar rash.
Magnetic wheel chocks are easy to make and very useful. These wheels can not move the chocks.  When significant enough force is applied, the wheels will eventually jump the chocks.  The chocks don't budge.

Note that the wheel chocks I make are taller than these (1" instead of 3/4") and have two magnets per chock.

"Monster" press assemblies allow the use of excessive force. For most model-building purposes, a fixture with four magnets and a vertical press will provide plenty of clamping pressure.  However, if you really want to crank it down, the front of the fixture will lift from the board and all clamping power is lost.

The solution is easy add more magnets to the front of the fixture.  All you need is a longer 10-24 bolt and more magnets.

Wayne O'Craig's Magnetic Fixture Wing Jig Wayne O'Craig sent along this neat idea for a wing jig.  Maybe this will help all those folks who keep e-mailing me asking where they can get an Ajusto-Jig.


Use magnets to build model aircraft
Make magnetic model aircraft building fixtures

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Copyright 2003-2006 Paul K. Johnson