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Ventora3300

Modelling in Wood - discuss!

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One of the things that my Dad left me from his boyhood was several 'Skyleada' aircraft plans which I think he used to make solid wood models. I have a very vague recollection of him (in later life) showing me (when I was a boy) a Hawker Hurricane made in wood - it must have been fairly accurate because I was able to recognise it by it's shape - no doubt I was making the Airfix plastic version at the time.

 

I have dug them out from a box in the loft - (Tried to attach a pic but failed).

 

Is it really possible to make models from these plans? It must involve 'scratch building' skills far beyond anything I could do - respect to Dad's generation.

 

Is anyone out there still building models this way? I would be interested to hear.

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

 

 

 

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Hello, Mike

Actually, there are those who still build models this way. Take a look:

Build like that is far beyond my modelling skills, too. Cheers

Jure

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There's a few still building models in wood.

See http://smm.solidmodelmemories.net/SMF/index.php

Once you've cut out the parts it's not that different to building with a plastic kit.  A different glue of course.  Once the wood is sanded and sealed the finishing can be exactly the same.  Here's my P-40 in solid balsa, it may not look Eduard standard but there's at least equal enjoyment and satisfaction.

20170422_105302

I've also got a bunch of old Skybirds to restore.  A big box of (repairable) junk from someone who only wanted the old Dinky planes in an auction lot!

 

Remember this was how the masters for the classic kits were created.

Cheers 

Will

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I forgot to say you can also build any plane in any scale with this technique, no waiting for kits.

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Hello ventora,

 

Reconcilor here. I'm the twit whose building the Mig 15 out of wood. As mal paso said its not as difficult as people seem to imagine. It's just a step by step process that gets more and more like building a kit as you get further along. 

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Further to the note above, just remember that during WW2 thousands upon thousands of school boys made aircraft recognition models, out of wood, for the military - and for the most part they only had very basic hand tools. So it can't be that hard. 😀

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I think the main skill must be hand to eye co-ordination - i.e. the hands can produce what the eyes want to see. Thanks for all the posts and the link to the 'Solid Models' website.

Regards to all,

Mike

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It's still how master patterns are made for the limited run models. I made a pattern for Hubert Boillot's company of a 1/32nd scale Dragon Rapide. OK, it was hollow, rather than solid, but it was still hand carved Chemical Wood (variously known as Ureol or Renshape). Exactly the same processes. Chisels (keeps the dust down), files and finally sandpapers (outdoors ideally).

I am just starting out on a series of models of Moths, starting with a Hornet Moth, in 1/48th scale, (don't have space for 32nd scale!)  I will make a master pattern of a typical Moth wing, get a chum who does resin stuff to cast some up for me and save me a huge amount of time.  But all else will be either wood, styrene, Perspex or Ureol.  I only do civil aircraft, so kits are not available, hence I have to make from scratch, something I've been doing since I was 8 years old (precocious little turd that I was!). I did it for years professionally, now just for me.

Give it a try.  Good luck,

Martin

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Balsa which is easy to carve and sand takes a lot of finishing  to hide the grain. Obeche was the same. I always used English Lime wood ( a beautiful wood to carve, file and sand) with virtually no grain for my early patterns and now I use the new model boards which come in many different grades of hardness and again is easy to work with.  Again people will simply not give it a go or try anything. The sections on plans are there to aid you. You simply cut them out and glue them to a piece of card and as you shape you use the section former templates  to check your shape. When it fits the curve at the given point, you're there. I've just scraped, sanded and shaped in plastic stock a complete set of wings for a 1/48 Stampe SV.4 in a couple of hours. The only kit in 1/50 is total crap.

 

I hope to post this build as a work in progress, just for the fun of it.  I copy the plan parts onto A 4  sheet paper self adhesive labels. Cut out the side view etc and stick these to the blank block material  and then band saw or fret saw off the waste areas . Taper the blanks in top profile and then using the plans , photos and calipers, knives and files etc shape the parts. There's a super little old book by one of my old customers, W.O Doyland,  Aircraft in Miniature. There are some old Wartime books  around such as How to make Solid Model Aircraft (they were known as solids as apposed to built up flying models. I think I have every one of the old Aeromodeller plans (later MAP) and hundreds more besides.

 

That's the way we started.

 

John

 

Lime wood patterns

 

SDC11436_zps0e46dbe1.jpg

 

2_zpsgl5ntgex.jpg

Curtiss Helldiver  1/72.  Made out of Balsa when I was 15 (60 years ago). The tyres were rolled up bicycle valve rubber tubing and the prop was teeth broken out of my mothers old comb

 

 

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I agree with everything John says.  I have had to stop making my Moths for a while, because an old friend is asking me to help him with a 1/6th scale model in brass, of a Vincent Black Shadow/Rapide.  Now that, even if I say so myself, DOES require some special skills that do need a lot of practice, but carving wood (I use steamed pear, but lime is nice) or chemical wood (Renshape or Ureol) is relatively easy and achieved just as John describes and needs just a little practice. The most important tool is a "good eye". If you haven't got that, go play golf, because you'll never have the self criticism to throw it out and start again.  But, most people have a better eye than they think.  If you've ever said to a chum or yourself, "that looks like sh*t", you probably have a good enough eye.  Give it a go and be fulfilled and never complain that the manufacturers don't do what you want any more.

 

Cheers,

Martin

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Here is a little compilation from the Doyland book, Aircraft in Miniature. The lines are best put on with a 2 B pencil, and when sanded or cut away, replace them on the newly curved surface using a thin strip of card as a guide.

 

Neg718_zps0twdgrzr.jpg

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My more sophisticated rig for scribing with a Digital Vernier. It will move in stages through any required angle to the vertical.  (1/48 Fox Moth in rig).

 

 

SDC11446_zpsaa6629d9.jpg

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When I was a lad plastic kits were still relatively new and there were wood kits which had the basic shape already sawn out of the tree so the modeller just had to whittle the finished shape. 

 

I only made a couple as my whittling skills left much to be desired....they still do! I find it much easier to fabricate than to sculpt, and in those days of little money and no TV I turned to card modelling as

an easier option.

 

In the sixties I was in a slot car club where one talented lad used to carve 1/32nd bodies from the latest Model Cars plans which he would use to make vac form bodies from. 

 

 

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I was talking to a gentleman at Southwell show last weekend, on his stall was a collection aircraft on a diorama of the England to Australia Air Race and another of De Havilland types all in wood and at 1/144 scale and for me they were some of the best models at the show.

I had a good chat to him and he did tell me what wood he used other than Balsa, it is similar, but a tighter grain and the example he showed me of a fuselage after sanding was impressive. I found myself being drawn in to this oldest form of model making because of it's simplistic look, sometimes less is more in this age of a head long rush for super detailing.

The idea of using old fashioned wood working tools to whittle away also seems appealing and is modelling on another tangent to Plastic/Resin kits.

After you have finished you can truly say, ' I built that model' which is the opposite to, 'I assembled these items from kit form' which I imagine must be rewarding on another level.

 

Give it a go, you never know, I am thinking about it.

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1 hour ago, Head in the clouds. said:

I had a good chat to him and he did tell me what wood he used other than Balsa

Can you remember what wood he mentioned? One day I would like to have a go at modelling in wood. I'm a reasonably proficient amateur carpenter so it makes sense to give it a go. I was considering using Lime wood as it has a very tight grain, but isn't too hard to carve.

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Lime, or Swiss Pear are the best carving woods.  Balsa and its family are too soft and open grained.

 

Martin

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On 1/10/2018 at 3:31 PM, Bandsaw Steve said:

Could it have been jelutong?

That's it!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've been struggling to remember that name. We used it for pattern making. Tight-grained, easy to work and nice and stable.

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I believe that it’s really good but I have never used it. Hard to get hold of. I’m using liquidambar at the moment. It’s Really good - and relatively easy to get hold of in Australia. 

Pleased I could help. 👍

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I'm surprised that this thread is still going. Carving a model from wood is so cheap, all it needs is the will to find a piece of suitable material and a subject and have a go. In the first instance, Balsa is the easiest to obtain but it requires the most finishing because of the grain and it's softness. I used to finish mine with Cellulose dope with talc mixed in. It dries quickly and sands to a silky finish. When I went onto Lime wood I used Banana Oil and Talc which is a non shrinking type of dope. All these items with the exception of Lime wood (English Limes grow in most parks ) were obtainable from most flying model shops. 

 

Most pattern makers shops now tend to use only polyurethane machinable boards such as Renshape or Prolab 65. Most of the big resin and composite suppliers have their own brand. They also come in different densities so for hand shaping you want a low density. They are very very expensive because of the size sheets they are sold in. However if you have a local Pattern making company they will have off cuts. One company that I use for Aluminium casting machining cuts my board ( 70 cm by 100 cm and 50 mm thick) into various thickness sheets from 2 mm to 25 mm by  50 mm so that I can select a suitable thickness for the job in hand. I have my own band, Jig and circular saws and belt sanders to do all the smaller cutting operations.

 

The Fox Moth fuselage in the above photo is in Prolab 65. It's easily worked with normal hand tools and it cuts with a model knife or hand fret saw and drills, sands and files beautifully and I finish with Halfords primers. It sticks with super glue or 5 min Araldite.

 

Other carving woods are Yellow Pine, Piranha Pine, Jelutong, and Obeche besides my old favorite Lime. Lime wood can be found with suppliers specializing in carving craft tools.

 

Get a small block balsa pack from a flying model shop and have a go at making a simple drop tank shape for a starter but from a plan so you can check your accuracy. Make paper or card patterns. I print mine of the drawing in my computer onto A 4 (or A 5) peel back self adhesive labels for the component side and top views. and a soft pencil or fine Sharpy (permanent ink).

 

John

 

 

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