If you’re looking to become a radio-controlled (RC) car hobbyist, you’re going to need the help of several tools. Even if you’re buying pre-built models, there will come a time where you’ll have to perform maintenance, make repairs and add hop-ups by yourself.
Although a range of specialized tools for several RC-related jobs is available om the market, sometimes, a modest selection of tools is enough for the job, especially for beginners like you.
Here are several tools that should be worth investing money in:
Most RC cars use Phillips head screws, so you’ll want a set of Phillips screwdrivers that includes the #0, #1 and #2 types. These drivers are intentionally designed to cam out (i.e. slip out of the head when its torque limit is reached). Remember that a crosshead screwdriver is useless on a screw head with a single slot. Rather, Phillips screws are used to drive and remove screws that match its design.
You might ask: What’s the difference between the three types? Just like screws, Phillips screwdrivers come in sizes indicated by numbers, not by measurements. The #0 Phillips screwdriver fits screw numbers 0 and 1, while the #1 Phillips fits screw numbers 2, 3 and 4, and the #2 Phillips fits screw numbers 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Use this guide to help you differentiate the common screw types used in RC cars.
A hobby knife will come in handy for things like cutting stickers or taking off a wire’s insulated cover. Blades are easily replaceable and are also affordable. Note that it’s important to invest in a hobby knife with a sharp blade. As long as the handle firmly holds the knife, you should be okay. Dull blades tend to cause jagged cuts. X-ACTO and Excel are two well-known brands that offer quality hobby knives.
Hex wrenches are used to drive bolts and screws that have a hexagonal socket.
Many hobbyists prefer hex wrenches that have an L-shaped shaft. To use the L-shaped hex wrench, you hold and twist it by its long-arm, creating a large torque at the tip of the short arm. This makes driving screws easier. The L-shape also offers a versatile reach into tight spots while providing leverage when needed.
Different kinds of shears
While regular scissors work well for most cutting jobs, you would need heavy-duty shears to cut thick wires and hard car parts. When cutting adhesive tapes, the sticky adhesive causes the blades stick. You can wipe the blade with a rag dipped in alcohol.
Meanwhile, it’s also good to invest in a pair of sharp wire cutters. Cheap wire cutters can leave behind a few strands of wire.
Lastly, invest also in a pair of side cutters. The special design of side cutters makes them perfect for removing plastic packaging off of RC parts.
Pliers are used in inserting parts in tight spaces, holding wires for soldering and squeezing e-clips into place. With a reliable set of pliers, you can put together spur and pinion gears more accurately.
The tools in this guide should provide a solid foundation for your budding RC hobby. Feel free to add more tools once your collection of RC cars starts growing.