Getting Started
Using Your Tools Effectively

Following are useful tips and techniques on using your tools efficiently and effectively in assembling a Zenith Aircraft kit:

Getting Ready to DrillDRILLING - hold the hand drill perpendicular to the material being drilled. Always keep drill-bits sharp (minimizes de-burring). Make sure that you are drilling the hole the proper size (verify drawings), and correct location. Balance the drill with both hands so that you have full control of the drill (avoiding "wandering" of the drill). Don't drill the same hole over more than required, as that will increase the size of the hole. You don't need to center-punch where you will drill - a well marked spot will suffice. Adding a rubber washer by the shank will prevent damaging the material as you drill a hole through.

Hold the drill correctly! Proper Drilling Method


1/4" 5/16" 3/8"
mm 3.2 4.0 4.8 6.4 8.0 9.6
BLIND RIVETS ("Zenith Aircraft") A4 A5        
BOLTS (AN)     AN-3 AN-4 AN-5 AN-6
SCREWS (AN-525)   8-32 (10-32)      
SOLID RIVETS (AN-470) AD-4 AD-5 (AD-6)      
Holes that may be slightly oversized will be filled in by the blind rivet as it expands. This is not the case with bolts.

BLIND (or PULL) RIVETING: The blind rivets are set with a standard hand riveter, with customized heads (nose bushings piece). The Zenith blind rivets are very easy to set, and require access from one side only (compared to solid rivets which require access from both sides). Hold the hand riveter perpendicular to the material as you pull a rivet, pushing down on the riveter (against the material) as you squeeze. Make sure material is de-burred before riveting (all surfaces, both sides). No solid (conventional) riveting is required in the kit assembly.

Avex blind riveting

A rivet can always be taken out: To drill out an existing rivet, drill out the rivet head without drilling through the hole. Then, using a nail, hammer the stem of the rivet out of the hole. This will not enlarge the rivet hole.

When there is a choice, the rivet head should be located on the side of the thinnest material riveted together, or on the outside of the aircraft. There is no need to flush rivet.

SNIPS - HOW TO CUT AND TRIM SHEET METAL: Some sheet-metal parts need trimming, which is easily done with hand snips. Cutting is made easier by holding the snips at a slight angle to the material, and not closing the snips completely (only 1/2 to 3/4 of the scissor blade length). When cutting away a larger section, it's often easier to first make a rough cut (about 1/2" from final cut), and then making the final cut. The cut edge may be filed for smoothness, if required.

DE-BURRING / FILING: Parts often need to be de-burred after having been drilled or cut. Any burrs between two surfaces or along edges must be removed. The easiest way to remove a burr from a drilled hole is to use a large drill bit (+1/4"), and turn it by hand a few times in the smaller hole so that it removes the burr. Note: Make sure that only the burr in removed, and that you do not enlarge or "countersink" the hole. Do Not Use A Power Drill For This. You can also lightly pass over the holes with a flat file to remove the burrs (be careful not to scratch the material).

Deburring - Right and Wrong

For sheet metal edges, use a smooth file, running it lightly along the edge at an angle. Run your hand lightly along edges and over drilled holes to feel for burrs. Sharp edges may be very lightly filed to avoid cuts. For filing away larger sections, you can first use a coarser double-cut file. For final filing, use a smooth file and make sure that a files section does not become "corrugated" from filing. Tool supply shops also have specialized de-burring tools available (for drilled holes and sheet metal edges). These are not required, but you may find them useful.



Only quality materials are used in Zenith Aircraft Company kits. Structural materials supplied in the kit must meet Zenith Aircraft Company's strict requirements, and have been subject to numerous quality control tests. The parts supplied in the kit are professionally pre-formed at the factory so that the builder can begin assembly immediately, without special tools or jigs. The aircraft has been engineered to use these specific materials:

The aircraft is built primarily of quality aviation aluminum-alloy sheet metal. The 6061-T6 aluminum alloy provide high strength, flexibility and corrosion resistance. Generally, in the instructions the sheet-metal is only referenced by thickness (ie. .025, .016)

Avex blind rivetZENITH BLIND RIVETS: The Zenith blind rivets are made from quality alloys, and are batch tested by Zenith Aircraft Company for shear strength before being shipped. These rivets are corrosion resistant, and the stem becomes locked in after being set. Also, not many different lengths are required for different diameters or thicknesses. In the Assembly Instructions, they are designated as A4 (1/8) and A5 (5/32). They have a design shear strength of 130 lbs. and 220 lbs. respectively. Use only Zenith rivets supplied with the kit.


 AN NUTS & BOLTS: Standard aircraft AN hardware is used.

AN Hardware AN bolt designation: AN - X - Y - A

X = Diameter is X/16"

Y = Length (in increments of 1/8")

A = specifies no hole in bolt shank - use self-locking nut (if no A, use castle nut and pin).

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 Zenith Aircraft Company

Zenith Aircraft Company
1881 Airport Road
Mexico, Missouri, 65265-0650 USA.
Tel: 573-581-9000 (Mon - Fri, 8-5 Central),
Fax: 573-581-0011
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Zenith Aircraft Company: 2014-03-19