Friday, August 24, 2007

Model Boat Building II: Shaping the Hull

I have spent the past few days of my vacation shaping the hull of the "Yankee Hero," the quoddy fishing boat that I am building. Although in more complicated kits you often build an actual keel, frame it, and shape wood strips around it to form the boat, in simpler kits you get a very roughly shaped piece of basswood which you then have to finish. I have to admit, that in this age of computer guided 3D printers, it seems a bit odd to be trying to even out the two sides of a chunk of wood using sandpaper and a hobby knife. But its very therapeutic and incredibly satisfying when you look at it after you've been working several hours and see how much better it looks than when you started. Its also not as hard as you would think.

There are several tips that I can pass on for hull-shaping. The first is to constantly check to make sure that the keel is straight, and that the keel lines up with the tops of bow and sternpost. I really like using curved hobby knives to carve: they stick to the curve of the boat much better than a straight edge. Little errors on the curves of the bow can be corrected as you go, but it is much easier to do if there is a real centerline that you can follow.

The second tip is don't be afraid to sand the whole hull down, see how it looks, and restart the carving process. While I'm sure that you would need to do this less if were to care hulls repeatedly, but if you, like me, are truly an amateur, it helps to "finish" and then start again!

Because the hull is three dimensional and the plans you receive are two dimensional, it can be difficult to ascertain how close to "scale" you truly are. Don't worry about it to much. If it looks close and even to you, it will look great when its finished!!

NEW: Flickr Photos of the Yankee Hero's Progress!

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