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Tools, Materials and Glueing the Block

Tug Flying Spray

Tug Flying Spray

Custom House Maritime Museum

     Before you can build a half-model, you should assemble tools and materials. You will not need overly fancy tools, and what you do need you can find in most well-stocked hardware stores. Of course, there are many fine and often expensive tools made specifically for the woodworker and modelmaker which you can acquire little by little as you gain experience and decide to attempt finer work. A list of principal sources of tools is given at the end.

     Basic tools you will need are: a hand saw (a table saw and a band saw are also useful), a hand plane, a sturdy vise, a screwdriver, a hand drill and bits, a drawknife, a spokeshave (ed. note: a tool used to shape and smooth wood in woodworking jobs such as making wheel spokes, chair legs, paddles, bows, and arrows)one or more gouges of differing radii, and some C-clamps. You will also need a pair of scissors, a supply of thumb tacks or pins, some glue, several grades of sandpaper, and various compounds for finishing the surface of the model. 

     The best wood with which to start out your modelmaking career is some good, clear white pine. This wood works easily with sharp tools, does not often have really troublesome grain, does not tend to splinter or crack as readily as some other woods, and can take a variety of finishes. You can use mahogany to good effect, but its grain may cause you more trouble than you can handle until you gain some experience. You can use other soft woods such as spruce and cedar, but generally avoid the hardwoods because they are difficult to shape.

     It is getting more and more difficult to find solid blocks of good pine in the sizes needed for modelmaking; but it is easy enough, and in some respects preferable, to glue up a block out of several layers. For this work most of the white glues on the market, such as Elmer's Glue-All, will do very well. A particularly fine white glue is Titebond Glue made by the Franklin Glue Company of Columbus, Ohio, and sold (among other places) through the Woodcraft Supply Corp. The advantage of white glue is that its almost invisible glue line does not interfere with the fairing of the model's surface. Most epoxy glues leave a joint which is harder to sand down than the wood and thus often leaves a ridge or hard spot along the glue line. Resorcinol glues will work when used properly, but since they are generally dark reddish-brown, they will emphasize the glue line unless the model is painted. You may, of course, be looking for that kind of effect: you can make any waterline or buttock stand out by adding some lamp black or other dark pigment to any glue. 

     After you measure the plans or templates and decide how big the block should be and how many pieces you will need to glue up, cut the pieces out of your stock with a hand or power saw. 

Fig. 6 (??)


     Unless you want to see the shape of a particular waterline or buttock, it is not necessary to have the layers spaced exactly as they are on the plan. Apply the glue to one piece at a time and stack the pieces in the proper order. Work on top of some old newspapers to avoid dripping glue all over your workbench. You will notice that when pressure is applied with the C-clamps the pieces will tend to slip out of alignment.  By making sure the clamps are perpendicular to the pieces and by adding more pressure you can keep them from slipping too much. You may need eight or ten clamps to do a thorough job of drawing the pieces tightly together, especially at the corners and edges.

     When all the clamps are tight, wipe off the excess glue and set the block aside for twelve hours or so in a warm place. When the glue has dried, trim off any excess and square up the block so that each side is smooth and flat. Next, prepare the profile and half-breadth templates, either those provided in the Centerfold or your own plans.  Carefully cut out the shapes. Place the profile template on the block and fasten it lightly with tacks or pins before tracing around it (Figure 6).



Tools, Materials and Glueing the Block