Wear Ship Dave

Scratch building HMS Leopard, Part 3

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Hull Construction
I started by choosing a couple of points that I could precisely locate that also passed through all of the decks I am using for reference.

The purpose? To align the decks correctly, one above the next.

Points chosen, I used a basic hat pin to pierce each deck in the correct location. You'll see that I have a lump of modeling clay underneath my deck shape. This supports the card stock shape and makes it much easier to push the pin through without deforming or creasing the deck shape.

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I've chosen balsa wood as the primary material, mostly because it's pretty easy to shape... And I have a pretty large supply of it. (Another hobby of mine is scratch building R/C aircraft)

Since I plan on building the ship in layers, rather than carving from a single block, I pulled some 1/16th inch thick sheeting from my balsa stores. (This sheeting would be used to "skin" the wings of an R/C plane because it is very light and so thin that it can be easily bent to match complex shapes such as the airfoil of a wing.)

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With my trusty X-Acto knife, I trim off an end of the sheet that is longer than the length of the ship I am building.

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Next, I sub-divide that piece in several slices that are wider than my intended ship.

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Here is a stack of the cut strips compared to a scaled print of the ship.

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I decided that I needed two of the strips stacked to equal the distance from the waterline (my lowest shape from the hull) and the lower gun deck. So, I glued to of the strips together. Yikes! Glue came out faster than I expected!

I clamped them and left them for awhile. I could have also used a single strip from 1/8th inch thick sheeting, but I don't often use that thickness in my R/C planes and didn't have any readily on hand.

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Next, I pinned my waterline shape (Z) and the Lower Gun Deck shape on the top and bottom of the balsa strips I just glued together. Using the holes I punched earlier, I can keep the two deck shapes in the proper alignment.

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Now to sand the wood down roughly down to size. I started with a single piece of 220 grit sandpaper just laying on my work table. Decided that a sanding block would work better. Then skipped to the Dremel tool to speed things up. Rather than a sanding drum on the Dremel, I used a grinding bit, so it wouldn't be so aggressive. The balsa sands away quickly and it is easy to remove too much. You just want to get it close to the shape for now.

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Next, I added another two strips of balsa (also glued together earlier) and the shape for the Upper Gun Deck. Again using the hat pins to maintain alignment.

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Again, I sanded away the extra balsa to the rough shape. Then glued my work so far together and clamped to dry.

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When dry, I used my Fore Deck shape to cut a 1/16th inch thick piece of a strip of balsa into the rough shape of the Fore Castle.

Next, I used my Quarterdeck shape to mark on the main body where the Quarterdeck would end. Then Used the Poop Deck shape to cut a 1/16th inch thick piece of balsa for the Poop Deck.

That done, I glued those pieces into position and clamped everything again.

When dry, I used my knife to mark out and cut away the rough shape where the Quarterdeck ends and you can see down into the Upper Gun Deck.

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Next I used a small piece of sand paper to shape the hull a bit more. I didn't like the way the wood was shaping up at the stern. The wood that I had planned to be the windows in the cabins, wasn't looking right to me, so I sanded it away for now.

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Next, I used my Dremel with a flat grinding bit to smooth out the opening to the Upper Gun Deck.

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Now, back to the stern. I needed to add some material back. So, a little CA glue and some very small pieces of balsa and I soon had something that I think I can make work.

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Now, obviously, I need to remove some of the material that I just added and blend it into the shape of the rest of the hull. I wrapped what I didn't want to accidentally sand with a piece of paper, giving me better control of what was removed.

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Once I got it close, I added some spackling compound to fill cracks and ease blending.

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Now, I needed to add the prow portion of the keel. I cut it from the scaled card stock profile that I had printed earlier with my deck shapes. I used my X-Acto knife to slot the prow and glue in the cardstock.

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There is some additional structure around the area of the head. I'm going to create it with card stock also, so I cut some notches to allow me to add a thin strip around the head area.

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I then used a little more spackling compound to blend in the card stock strip. I will likely re-visit it later to adjust how it looks.

Before putting it down for now, I experimented a little with possible mast material... Here's a portion of a hat pin that may become the Bowsprit...

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NEXT UP: Rails and details and maybe some Masts! Oh my!

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  1. Gunner's Avatar
    Part 3 ?
    I can't wait to see part 2 and then Part 1.
  2. Wear Ship Dave's Avatar
    First two parts are already up. Just click the "Prev" above your comment to back up to number two, then again to get to the first entry.

    Or Part 1 here: http://www.sailsofglory.org/entry.ph...ng-HMS-Leopard

    And Part 2 here: http://www.sailsofglory.org/entry.ph...Leopard-Part-2

    Updated 09-16-2013 at 11:21 by Wear Ship Dave
  3. 7eat51's Avatar
    Oh, David. This is incredible. When you are finished, this must be translated into a How To article.
  4. Wear Ship Dave's Avatar
    That would be great if it turns out well!

    That said, the time investment is pretty brutal. Even if you factor out the time spent taking demo photos, this is really just a project for folks who love "the build" part of modeling... Definitely not a good avenue for someone who simply doesn't want to buy any minis.

    It's funny... I'm pretty sure I could do a pretty nice 1/300th scale version, from scratch, in half the time. Going small really complicates things. Heck, I spent a good hour wandering around a Hobby Lobby store, on Saturday, looking for a good material to use for masts that didn't look totally out of scale.

    I think it paid off though, we'll find out before too much longer (should start building masts soon)! I found some mast material that I think will look good, and I've got an idea for cannons and ratlines (hope they work out), as well!
    Updated 09-16-2013 at 21:51 by Wear Ship Dave