Make your own free website on

Model making - Quick and Easy
    Even with all the modern 3D modeling available from the various boat design software out there - the time comes when there is no substitute for holding a model in your hand and studying it from every angle. What follows are some simple tricks to making the transition from two dimensions to three a bit smoother. I start with a cardstock model and then go to a balsa wood one.
    The sample boat I'm modeling here is one I'm exploring based on the flat iron skiff, but made of a single sheet of 4'x8' plywood. I'm making the transom of 1"x12" pine to maximize the displacement available from a single sheet of ply. I designed this onGregg Carlson's free  hulls software. (Let the page load, the program is at the bottom.) Gavin Atkins has a great tutorial for it here.
 Click on thumbnails to see larger image, then use your back button to return.

views.JPG (8361 bytes)

Here are the views. The water line is at 300lb displacement.


persp.JPG (9233 bytes)

Here's a perspective view of it.


collection3.JPG (15078 bytes)glues2.JPG (13652 bytes)A few simple tools and a little patience can yield some satisfying results. Most of what you'll use you probably already have around the house. Sissors, clothes pins, sandpaper, ruler (straight edge) single edged razor blade, pencile and assorted glues.
    The only not so common item is a circular razor wheel made for cutting fabric. It works great on paper and balsa wood as well, and sort of simulates cutting out your parts with a circular saw.

        How you get to your developed panels is up to you. You can play directly with cardstock and sissors if you like. Than transfer that to graph paper to create offsets for lofting your full sized boat. If you already have some offsets you can draw them to scale on graph paper and make xerox copies of them, or enter them into a CAD program like TurboCad, and connect the dots with a spline curve. Or if you are using hulls software as I was in this example you can do a screen save on the nesting portion. Open the ply layout image in any graphic view program and print onto card stock. If you don't have any cardstock handy, file folders are a good weight for the paper models as well.

OSFInest.jpg (4332 bytes)Here's the screen shot I did for my One Sheet Flat Iron Skiff.


paperskiff3.JPG (10721 bytes) Cut out your parts and tape them together.
If this inspires you to tweak your design, do so and make another paper model until you like what you see. Now use the paper pieces as patterns to cut out your balsa wood. Trace them onto your balsa wood sheet and cut them out with a razor blade or wheel. Some like to use a scale of 3/4 inch to the foot as this allows 1/16" to equal an inch. I tend to just print my patterns as large as I can fit onto the card stock I have, and leave it at that. The wood pieces become a kind of kit. I like to simulate the construction technique if possible. Hot melt glue simulates epoxy fillets in stitch and glue. Otherwise I try to make all wood parts that the full size boat will require. Much can be learned about assembly this way, when changes are easier to make, and less costly.

stemjoint.JPG (7929 bytes)In spite of what I just said, rather than make the stem post, I cheated and used hot melt, even though this boat is not destined to be a stitch and glue. I taped the ends of the sides together and then while holding them at the designed angle, I applied the hot melt.

kit1.JPG (6727 bytes)Here are the main parts of the boat, sides transom and middle frame. 

windless2.JPG (9050 bytes)A rubber band and a bamboo skewer make a fine "Spanish windless." Notice I chose to use a solid frame instead of the stick and gusset one, for the bending stage.

sidestransom.JPG (9364 bytes)Here are the sides and transom glued together.


gunwales.JPG (17649 bytes)Here the gunwales are  being glued on. (On the full size boat, slices of PVC pipe work wonderfully as clamps.)


chinelogs.JPG (12932 bytes)The chine logs go on next.


sanding.JPG (10711 bytes)Sanding chine logs.


fair.JPG (10953 bytes)Checking for fairness before gluing bottom.


bottomruff.JPG (11793 bytes)The bottom is cut oversized prepared to glue to the hull frame.



bottom2.JPG (5480 bytes)Bottom is sanded flush and skeg attached.

deckseats.JPG (6200 bytes)Seats and deck  are glued in place.




Cygnet  Model Making  Family Boat Building Great Links! Rants Home