Saturday, August 29, 2009

Compare the fine tuned block vs the roughed out mirror image.  I make a mistake in the buttocks, however.

Here, the bow filler block is totally merged with the angle of the bulkhead bevel AND the rabbet.
See here, the line from the bulkhead bevel to the rabbet notch (it's still too convex).  The plank will secure the notch and anchor the hull.  Note the filler block, keel and bulkhead create a solid shape that would not exist in a real ship, but supports the planking accurately.
And when I say line, I mean the same sense of line I saw in a surfboard shaper's shop once.  A very organic sense of design.

Here are the buttocks.  I have to say that this is an area of apprehension because of the dramatic curves here--and the merge with the transom wing--is that crooked?
The Lesson here is to not glue the filler block into place until:

  • it is as close to final shape as possible
  • you've approximated the dimensions to make the mirror

I'm just elmer gluing these cabin frames to see the shapes all put together

Friday, August 28, 2009

filler blocks and grasping the big picture

So then, filler blocks for the forward bulkhead cheeks, and the afterward transom buttocks. These are four roughly thumb sized curvy chunks carved from blocks of basswood. They fill the space between the last bulkhead on either end and the rabbet-notch, where the plank butts will be fitted later. They provide a smooth transitional surface to ease the planking over the radical curves near the far ends of the hull. I don’t think they actually exist in a real ship.

I’ll do the fine sanding after gluing the forward filler blocks into place, and then carve some notches for the forward knightheads and timberheads. At the stern, I’ll glue the filler blocks into place and begin work on the transom-counter area, building up what will turn out to be the captain’s cabin with stern windows, etc.

The filler plug was the first object I’ve ever carved, and I found it very hard to make the initial cut. Visualization. Chisel there, razor saw here. The Dremel was invaluable—by far the best money spent so far on this project. Once I got it roughed out, however, the other three were much easier. Seeing the picture in your head is important for this sort of work, but even then, cutting into the wood feels like a bold stroke— I was a man of action making a well thought out move.

It’s worth noting that after a couple of false starts on this project I decide to do a bit more research before cutting and gluing stuff. I really wanted to apprehend the whole vision of the ship as a machine of science rather than a floating plug of buoyant material. I’ve read Master and Commander three times, read other people’s build logs, picked through journals and gone over the kit plans and instructions countless times. I can really appreciate this complicated structure for what it is: a complex and beautiful travelling machine.

Bearing in mind the materials used in the “Golden Age of Sail”, i.e., wood, rope, canvas and a surprisingly small quantity of metals, it is a miracle of interdependent, balanced forces:

• The force of the human and cargo mass pushing down and out, gravity trying to force everything aboard to the bottom of the sea through the--

• hull planking, made springy via bending under steam and heat, pushing out and down into the—

• Keystone-like keel, its solid strength supporting the--

• Rigid framework of the “ribs”, anchoring the--

• Wales and bulwarks, anchoring, in turn, the—

• Stays and other rigging, holding up, through sheer tension and counter-tension, the--

• Masts and spars, and the wrenching forces placed on them by the--

• Huge Sails of every size, filled with moving air.

Now place this machine in an environment where:

• The ship is flung violently on a dynamic surface subject to the whims of weather;

• Endless pushing and pulling by currents and tides of planetary scope;

• The power of the wind varies from zero to hurricane-force gales, ripping at the masts and spars;

• 32-pound cast iron balls striking at the hull at 1600 fps;

• And almost everybody of the European age of sail steering the vessel was incapable of swimming.

• Pan-global expeditions lasting several years without the resources of a shipyard

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

rotary tool

i picked up a $10 deal at the local hardware store and got an electric rotary tool--like an expensive Dremel only cheap.  I saw how the transom met the sternpost and knew I couldn't put it off any further.
 The cheap power tool is a great substitute for traditional "whittlin'"because, given the dimensions of the soft material, a cheap deal will do the job--only the smallest torque and amp ratings are necessary.
now the delicate sanding jobs can be sped up 10X.
I think the labor of beveling the bulkheads could've been cut in half with the cheap rotary tool.
The False Keel bearding line..more.

Alert:  My previous statements about filling the spaces between the bulkheads with blocks was mistaken:  to wit, I think that the building up of the bulwarks and rails will more than cover this model.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An Introduction

This is a build log of the wooden ship model, Fair American, 14, Revolutionary Brig of War.

First of all, I have to say how much is assumed by the makers of wooden ship models.  A lot. Woodworking skills aside, how 'bout some explanations?

Following my usual approach, I have jumped over the "beginner" level.  This was a big mistake in the case of ship modelling, and I would probably have chosen an easier ship for the first attempt if I could after watching some good videos on you tube:

I don't have any particular skill in woodworking, so there are some serious challenges for me.  The terminology is always interesting, so I've included a small list of terms--maybe a good side panel.


    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Build Log Entry #1

    So I began with glueing and nailing the stern, keel and stem--or cutwater--to the centerkeel. This was after tapering the centerkeel from the "bearding line", an imaginary line on the template in the plans. That taper-notch at the keel line will be used to seat the garboard strake. This will be one of the anchor points for the planking process.
    At this point, all I have is a flat object with notches.
    So then, I glue and check the sixteen bulkheads into place. These have also had their edges tapered according to a template from the plans, in order to set the foundation, again for the planking.  I used some pre-squared wood blocks to ensure the bulkheads were perpendicular to the centerkeel.
    Here, with the red circles, is one of the colossal mistakes I made when I first bought the
     kit. Instead of followng the template, I tapered the whole bottom edge of the centerkeel. I can recover from this by filling in the "rabbet", or notch with glue and sawdust and sanding it over. I say definitively that patience is required in this stuff.  Haste is bad.
    The bulkheads are more noticeably tapered near the ends of the ship.
    Next I think the filler blocks at the stem and stern will be carved to define the nose and tail shape of the ship, outside the last bulkheads.

    I think the transom is also a subject I'll tackle in the next one, along with the "Wale" or upper anchor point for planking.  This will flesh out the stern of the ship, and begin to address the bulwarks, or the rail along the sides of the upper deck. 
    So, the next post will hopefully cover:
    1. Filler Blocks
    2. Transom
    3. Wale and Bulwarks