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Working Comfortably on Upper Rigging

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If this has been addressed on a previous thread, please point me the right way (I looked a little and didn't see anything)


I've run into this situation several times before. I finish the hull, deck furniture and lower masts of a model. Now I want to start on the topmasts, but the model on the desk is at an inconvenient height. If I sit at the desk to work on the rigging, it's above eye level and my arms and back get tired (quickly). If I stand up to rig, I'm not steady enough on my feet and it's hard to rig (or avoid breaking anything).


I could try making a set of platforms of different heights, but storage and stability are a concern. I could stack books, but that's even less stable.


To work comfortably on the rigging, I basically need a desk 32" high, 20" high, 15" high and 10" high.


Alternately, I need a chair that can boost me (from sitting position) 12", 17" and 22".


Note that the numbers I'm using are approximate. But I hope you get the point.


Frank Mastini, in his book "Ship Modeling Simplified" had a sketch of his "Mastini Booster" which was basically a seat that set across the arms of his chair. At first I thought it was a good idea, but only if you have a solid, stationary chair with strong arms. I don't.


So, what I'm looking for are solutions that others have for this dilema. I'd like to see how you rig your models within the constraints I've outlined above.


And if all I'm doing is whining, would somebody please pass me the cheese (no blue or gorganzola please).






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Well, I shouldn't be responding since I just stand up when doing the upper rigging, and if I get tired, I take a break and sit for 5 minutes sipping my coffee and mentally doing the next step.

I know this isn't a solution to your problem. I'm sorry, but it's just what I do.  :(

Edited by Ulises Victoria
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This may not work for you, but here is what I did for a large 1/8th scale ride behind locomotive I have. I bought a hydrolic lift table from Harbor Freight, for about $100. I just raised and lowered the table as needed.


You could attach a table to it, with legs that go through the table. Have holes in the legs, that you can slip a rod into, to lock the table at various heights. Use the lift table to change heights, and roll it out of the way when working. The handle of the cart would get in the way of working on the model, unless you can modify it somehow, or have it turned to the side..

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Hi Harvey


I solved this problem by using an old wooden desk (a school desk in fact) I chopped the legs down to the size that I felt comfortable with and added castors. The desk lives under my main work desk, which is an L shaped office desk. When I want to work on rigging, I just roll it out. I also fitted this desk with a hinged top so I can store scrap wood and clamps in it. I left the back of the desk open and I store strips and dowel in it. Hope this may give you some ideas.




Desk is stored under main desk - castors fitted




Desk rolls out when needed for rigging or for extra workspace




Desk lid lifts up for storing scrap timber and clamps.

Rear section of desk for wood strips and dowel.




For me the desk is at a comfortable height for working on upper rigging.





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Hi All,


As a compliment to a low table (reusing my captain's old play table)  I am also reusing my astronomy observing chair as my build chair.  I've copied the photo and some text from my Dragon log from a few weeks ago below to save you clicking through. I just checked the link and it still works.


"It is infinitely adjustable for height as the seat grips the back rails using a plastic friction bar. Needs a foot rest at the highest settings  (~36in so at least I do!) but again will work well for rigging w/o bending over or standing up for ever. I’ve not seen anyone mention these chairs before so figured I’d post in case it interests someone. They aren’t cheap, but I find mine sturdy and comfortable. Link below for those not into astronomy. Not done any checks for price so look around before you take the plunge if you like it."

Hope this perhaps helps.
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Now things are getting interesting guys!


Hornet, I like the roll around table. It looks handy. Something like that wouldn't fit under my desk, but it's giving me ideas.


NIgel, the adjustable chair looks interesting. I've thought about things like bar stools, but I need some kind of upper back support to steady my hands. Your idea has me thinking too.


Thibaultorn, thanks for th picture. It gives me a much better idea of what you're talking about. It looks extremely useful (and Harbor Freight isn't that far away).


Back to my cave for some pondering. . .


Thanks again!



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  • 4 weeks later...

I built a movable, height adjustable , swivel top 'table' to hold my building platform. I built it from 2x4s, 2x6s, some 1/8th inch plywood to act as swivel guides to be screwed to the building board, some threaded rod, nuts and bolts, and put it on wheeled lockable casters. It was quite easy to build and serves my purposes very well. It is small enough to easily turn it to whatever direction I need. I can tilt the platform to more easily work on the interior of the model.

The one I built, was my 'prototype' , so I can modify it for my next build (if I need to).

I'm sorry that I don't have pictures of it immediately available . If you are interested, let me know and I can try to place some on this forum.




I got the idea from Danny's build of his VULTURE when he had mounted his model on a rod to have it able to swivel. At least I think it was his VULTURE build!

The 'table' is pretty darned stable. I've had it for over a year and it still works as well as the day I finished it.

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I will see what I can do tomorrow. I have never posted pictures on MSW before. I know I will have to 're-size' them.

I don't have to report to work until early afternoon. So I will try for the morning. If not tomorrow, then soon.


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This is the picture. Kind of self evident on construction.  The support boards , supporting the building board, are 1/2 inch oak. The slotted boards for tilting purposes are 1/8th inch plywood.  I put a little bar soap on the 

upright guides to help them slide better ( the uprights coming up from the base)  The base is wide and more substantial with weight to be stable.


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  • 2 years later...

Hi, just came across this thread just as I've thrown this THING together; and it cost nothing!

Working on the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle, I now have a work station which gives all round access, variable height, built in tool storage with infinite possibilities for hanging/stretching cordage etc. and is stable.

Notice the hand/arm rests which can be height adjusted for any aspect of hull and rigging work.

You can stand or sit and it's easily movable and should keep most things together within arm's reach.

All applause welcome.







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DelF, thanks.

63 years old and still single. I wonder why? Still, within reason I can do whatever I want. No ear-ache or blackmail. there's a lot to be thankful for. You make your bed...........and it's all yours!

As I said, the THING cost me nothing. Except for the fasteners all the rest came from my local dump.

Don't go tying yourself up, in Notts.

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I use a combination of an adjustable table and a working rest.  The photo shows this jig (arm rest).  The jig was made by my mentor and he passed it onto me.  It can be adjusted for height as required and I can rest my arms on the upper bar to work more comfortably at height.  I have added a small tool tray to the lower bar (not shown).  


The adjustable table allows me to get the overall height correct and this jig can then be adjusted for the height of the rigging you are working on - works for me :)








Edited by BANYAN
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mtaylor, hi. I agree, there is some movement, but the little there is quite 'stiff' and minimal. Using the arm rests keeps your hands steady with no relative movement at all. Being steel, the THING is quite heavy. I've just tried to overturn it; it would require a deliberate and strong effort to do that. I'm 100% confident it isn't going to fall over! It's intended as an assembly platform. Any cutting of materials where force is required would of course be done at a regular work table/surface. However, the THING is intended to be used for on-going and final assembly, including masting and rigging, where any work involved is rather light. For what it is and the intended use, I'm confident this THING is more than adequate for my needs. My intention, by sharing, is to show what can be done for virtually nothing. And when the project is complete, the thing is quickly reverted back to original ironing board and folds away for storage.

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mtaylor, thanks for that. My actual proper dedicated ironing board is even more substantial but lacks the pierced top which makes the THING so adaptable. Interestingly, both came my way from local dumps. No one wants to pay for a good quality board, like many other things. Yet as we all know, the proper tool for a job makes that job so much easier. Take good care of you and yours.

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The arm-rests are a good idea to steady them and make the work less tiering.


Most modern ironing-boards are too flimsy and poorly made from aluminium. My mother had solid one, made from 1" steel tubes, which was heavy and stable. Haven't seen such for years. The ones with expanded metal tops are for steam irons.

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Yep, you got it wefalk.

If you notice, the arm rests are mounted on stainless steel studding. The height is quickly adjustable by spinning the wing-nuts to any level you need. The studding in the photo's is short for work on the hull. When it's time for rigging these are replaced by 1 meter lengths, which can then be adjusted up and down to where you need support. They can also be mounted wider if need be.

Once the rigging progresses the THING can be lowered on it's legs. The slots underneath are modified so the table can be lowered almost to floor level. Hence the whole reason for the THING;    


Yes, my other ironing board is made of 1 inch steel tubing as you described. Never seen another.....but they are out there!

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