• The Biplane Forum is a large global active community of biplane builders, owners and pilots. From Pitts to Skybolts, to older barnstormers, all types are welcome. In addition to our active community, our content boasts exhaustive technical information which is often sought after for projects and maintenance. This information has accumulated over the 12+ years the forum has been in existence.

    The Biplane Forum is a private community. Subscriptions are only $49.99/year or $6.99/month to gain access to this great community and unmatched source of information not found anywhere else on the web. We are also a great resource for non biplane users, since many GA aircraft are built the same way (fabric and tube construction). Annual membership also comes with two BiplaneForum.com decals.

Big Toot Wing Rib Building 101

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Active Member
Jan 10, 2009
Reaction score
Hi all!!!

First and foremost "Thanks" for all your support and viewing of the "Toot" forum. We aretrying to give everyone a "real world" view of what it takes to build a "Little Toot" and a "Big Toot". Hopefully we will be ableto show you that if you havethat "dream" of building your own aircraft that there is an aircraft that can fill the bill at a reasonable "buildable" price.

Today was my indoctrination into the real world and "real work" of building an aircraft wing rib "Toot Style". I have to give credit where credit is due because without Tommy, Phil, & Gary putting in some hard work ripping and prepping wood, this initial process would have taken additional time that I did not have. Thanks Guys!!! You Rock! I owe you one.

Now to the meat and potatos: Building a rib is an exercise in material prep and organization. Having all your parts "dry fit" in the jigbefore the glue process is yourkey to a successful build. "I have a feeling there is a trend here".

In my opinion the hardest part of today wascutting the main spar supports of which we have 4 per main rib. With time I will get better at this and "faster" but I was amazed how well I did right out of the box. Again realize I had a bit of help from the guys above which made this process easier for me. I also had "Tommy's" critical eye and oversight making sure that my "first" attempt was a complete success.

The assembly process is straight forward: Top and bottom edges were preformed the day before. Center "core" pieces are put into the jig including the first of two leading edge parts,with the top and bottom fitted snuggly together "dry". Once you are satisfied that things are snug, you run a bead of glue down the full length of the rib and in all gaps. Flash spray it with hardenier and walla!! first step done.

Next step is spar strips (8 degree/4 per side of rib) which can be cut and glued at this stage. Then comes the "Triangle" rib strengtheners with 11 per side. After the thick glue sets I then took it to the jig saw and cut off the material that hung over the top and bottom of the rib. Note: the 8 degree thing is an aerodynamic necessity for the curve of the top wing and keeping the wing ribs straight. "Son of Toot" can give you the technical jargon on this.

Sanding: Once we had things trimmed off we sanded the rib so that there are no rough or sharp edges. I then sanded the face of the rib making it smooth. Finishing touches are to "bevel" the top and bottom of the rib.

Inspection: Inspect your work and be your own critical judge. "Learn" what is acceptable and what is not. Once you have this base knowledge the process will move quicker and faster. My biggest hurdle today was being critical and fitting things very tight. I later found outthat all though this is admirable and a "beginner" trait, I need to break this habit quick.

The goal is to bring my "production time" down to one hour. The above process that I have outlined took me approximately 2 hours and I'm guessing here about 10 to 15 minutes to epoxy the outside of the rib and finish it.

So do that 28 more times; smile; pat yourself on the back for passing the "beginners" test of perserverance, sticking too it, and working on the project daily. Now you have more ribs to build, but now you have a better picture of what your up against and how to do it.

We will be posting pictures of this process soon.

Fly Safe! and Take care,


p.s. My brain is tired; my hands have glue on them; and my face has a big smile on it....The feeling of building your first rib "Priceless!".


Latest posts