Tyson “T-bone” Brown is building an RV-14A project at home in Georgetown. He’s currently working on the empennage, and it’s coming along nicely. He demonstrated how he dimples the pre-drilled holes in the aluminum panels used to cover the tail section of the plane.

Tyson & tools


Tyson uses a compression dimpler with dies to manually make dimples in the pre-drilled holes. It squeezes the hole into a shallow little dish just deep enough to accommodate the head of a solid aluminum rivet with a tapered head. He also can use his pneumatic rivet squeezer with special dies to dimple holes.

You can get these tools from Cleaveland Tool as part of a tool kit when you order a kitplane, saving money (they are each $300 to $600 retail).


There are two sizes of rivets, AD3 and AD4, in the RV-14A. They are small aluminum rivets that you squeeze or drive. Sometimes they are driven with a pneumatic rivet gun against a bucking bar, especially in tight places where the squeezer cannot reach. All of this makes for a beautifully smooth airplane. Sometimes pulled (pop) rivets are used in especially tight spots.

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Dimpling with Tyson Brown

Bill Elliott, April 19, 2023