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Shaping bulkheads for planking

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Hello fellow builders!


This question may seem like a no brainer to some but I have not really seen any "how to" information on this. After the bulkheads are secure most instructions tell you to fair the edges of the bulkheads to accommodate the planks and ensuring that the planks lay nice and flat. So how do you go about doing this? I honestly just take a flat file and go to town while holding my breath in hopes of not screwing up (I actually snapped my last build in half when applying too much pressure with the file lol) 


I might be thinking to much into this in thinking there is an actual technique or method for this step. Thanks a bunch in advance and please have a great day! 



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Hi Philthy  ,  the most common method used is to temporarily pin three planking strips to  each side of the hull  ,one near the top ,one middle ,and one near the bottom ,You can then tell if some of the frames are too big or too small by the bumps or depressions in the strips. Fill the depressions by gluing a 0.5 filler strip on the frame edge and sanding or filing it back to shape .   A sanding block long enough to cover 3 or 4 bulkheads can be used to "fair" the curve over the frames ,repeatly checking with the planking strips to pick out any areas that need more sanding . the aim is to get a good contact between your first planking and the bulkheads . The more time spent on getting  this process correct will make your planking easier or at least smoother . Use a coarse sandpaper and be gentle ?? It can take hours of sanding and checking but worth it in the end ,just don,t overdo it and spoil the line of your hull .  

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Hi Phil.

Have you looked at the database of artical's in the MSW database..

This one might give you a good idea on where to start.


I use a sanding block that's 250mm long and 15mm wide for doing my models.( homemade for the job.. Just a block of flat wood with vees cut into the ends and a wedge to jam the sandpaper into place.)

Take your time on this part of the build..


Regards Antony.

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i see this tutorial on the internet perfect and easy to build !!!!

but im just need the Measurement for our hobby i guess 20 cm long , 7 cm wide , 4 CM Thickness .

but correct me if im wrong 


here is the link :http://forums.toymakingplans.com/post/udies-diy-block-plane-sander-7226203


best regards 


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That looks like the sanding block that x-acto sold at one time.  I have one.   Mine is 4.75" (12 cm) long X 7/8" (2 cm) wide X 5/8" (1.5 cm) thick. 


It can be any size you want, really.  I made another one half that size for working on small parts and inside the hull.  Also another one that isn't flat on the bottom but rounded.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Les here. You could try a book called Ship Modelling Simplified by Frank Mastini. This is my go to book for building plank on frame models. It doesn't beat you over the head but has clear step by step instructions on how to build. Truly good stuff here. It may be available on Amazon or search other book retailers. ISBN 0071558675. Good luck.

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  • 5 weeks later...

POB is not my method of choice, but the face of the "bulkhead" nearest the center is the dimension for the plank.  What you get is a square bulkhead with after or fore material being in the way of the plank laying properly. 

You can shave away a lot and leave a knife edge.  This gives you very little surface to attach the planks. 

You can try to fair what you shave away to follow the curve of the hull.  This gives you the width of the ply to support the planking.  A difficulty here is that distance between the bulkheads and the wide gap makes it difficult.

Here is an alternative:  go to a hobby site and order a good supply of Basswood sheets - they seem to come in 1/32" - 1/16" - 3/32" - 1/8" - 3/16" - 1/4" -  3" wide or so x 2 feet.  Fill the gap between the bulkheads with a sandwich of Basswood layers - shim any gap.  The wood does not need to fill the space all the way to the keel.  Cut the rough shape with a hand fretsaw if you do not have a power toll to do it.  Basswood is not a chore to cut.

There is Balsa available is like supply, but it is TOO soft to be reliable.

Plane, shave, file, chisel, sand - to get a fair hull -  what you get is essentially a solid - and depending on the inside dimension of the the sandwich, a hollow hull.  You get a good surface for your planking, solid enough that you only need apply one layer of planking - or if you  copper the bottom  - no planking at all there - just add the plank thickness to the bulkhead dimensions.


For sanding blocks -



A cork block - I band sawed off a 1 inch slice  and cut that into curves pieces.

Yoga stuff -  easy to cut to any curve -  rubber cement should hold the sand paper.

I swear I saw this recommended here some time ago.



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I use a piece of stripwood or piece cut out of sheet about 1/2 inch wide and 9 inches long, sandpaper held on by double-stik tape.  This is flexible enough to span maybe three bulkheads in a nice even curve.  It does the sanding and helps check for fairness at the same time.  If you use a file or stiff block you'll be doing one bulkhead at a time and have to keep checking the curve against planking stock.

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