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Making Shackles my way…

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Hi all.

In my last model (is coming soon) I've been challenged to make some more metal work.

So I decided among others to deal also with the shackles. You know, the nautical item shaped as the Greek alphabetical character "Ω”...

I didn't want to spoil my lazy way of making models, so I made relatively reasoning...post-617-0-75815400-1464881427.gif

Perhaps someone has also found an "easy" way to make shackles but I'm happy with my way.

Consider, I managed to make 12 pieces in 40 minutes, with minimal failure...and there are over 30 shackles in my model.

Just give me a few days time, to set up a presentation.




post-617-0-10585000-1464881737.jpg  The ruler is in cm.





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Most of my current ship models are being built to 1:87 scale ( yeah, HO scale, 3.5mm= 1Foot ), to fill a harbor scene on a set of modules I take to local train shows. In that scale, the shackles pictured would measure 81/2" to 9" dia.

I use a single strand of picture hanging wire, to make my shackles which measure about 1.5 mm, or, about 4".

The thimbles :o:D:piratebo5: I have got to try those, using the same wire !!!!!

I use surgical suture for the standing rigging, and sewing thread for the running rigging. I work a very fine needle a short distance up from a loop, then, using a needle threader, pull the end of suture/thread into the eye of the needle and then pull the needle up and through the body of the line, forming a seized, or spliced eye. If I were working to a larger scale, I might actually try splicing instead. In the case of a block, or dead-eye going in the loop, it is inserted and the loop tightened around it. The loops are locked in place with a drop of "super glue".

Edited by sumpter250
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Ok here we go.

Tools you will need.

The basics in your workshop but I consider also as necessary, what is shown in the below photo.

A heavy duty pliers, with some flat space (3-4 mm / 0.15748’’) at the edges of its nose.

A haemostatic pliers with as much can be narrow nose. If you can’t find this kind of pliers, you can use instead a strong self closing tweezers.

Your round nose pliers (small and larger).

One part of a small hinge, with the pivot.

Drills bits at 0,50 mm diameter.

Soft wire at 0,73 -0,75 mm in diameter (I think is suitable for the 1:24- 1:26 scale of my models). I used those in photo ear piercing nails, finding them suitable in dimensions and convenient in color (no need to paint them) …

And finally an old PC processor...post-617-0-93947000-1465028170.gif post-617-0-26194800-1465028187.gif



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Before you start you need to make some modifications, as below.


a.Take the haemostatic pliers and if it’s necessary trim down (about to 4mm/ 0.15748 ‘’) one part of its nose. Then, making first a scratch mark on the surface of the same part, make a hole at 0.50 mm. You might need some drill bits here…



b.Take the part of the hinge and modify it as in photo. Namely, remove the pivot cut off the inner support and bring down the other support so that the pivot can be as close to the main part of the hinge.



c.Take the heavy duty pliers and place pieces of masking tape on both parts of its nose, leaving a flat space about 2mm/ 0.0787402’’.



That’s all for now mates, thank you and stay tuned…

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Ok, let’s set a Shackles producing line….

You may choose your way for each of the following stages but I’m showing what I do…


-Take a piece of paper and draw two lines at the total length that a shackle should has to be, depending on the scale you work. I work at 1:24-1:26 scale so I found suitable the 8-9 mm length.

Place the wire between those lines and cut as many pieces you want to transform into shackles. In the photo is shown those ear piercing nails I use and incidentally the lines of the page are printed in 8mm space. !

-Take the heavy duty pliers and place each end of those pieces between its jaws, up to the line of the masking tape. Exert pressure and you will have a flat part on each end of the wire. Try to create those flat ends at the same level, although it will be a correction, later in the process.

Remember, the tape was placed at 2mm on the flat space, so it helps you not to measure every time how much part of the wire should be flattened.



When you finished with the flattening, it’s time to use the haemostatic pliers.

Take each piece of the wire and place each of the flattened parts between the jaws of the h. pliers under the 0,50 hole you have made.

Then with your rotary drill, and through that hole, try NOT to make a hole but a scratch mark on the flattened surface of the wire. You might have some holes (as in photo) on some of the pieces but this is not the aim at this stage. There is only one hole in the nose of the h. pliers, so if you try to make a hole in the wire by force, you probably will need a drill bit, for every hole you open…You can finish the job later over a wooden pad by the help of the scratch marks.



At this stage and if you like, you can round a bit the edges by the use of a thin file.




Edited by Thanasis
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Next stage is to give a general “U” shape to those metal pieces.

-So by the use of a rounded nose plier on the edge of a surface (I suggest a wooden one), push each piece to bend it. Be aware, not to exert pressure at the edge of each piece but on the not flattened part of it. Because of the flattening and the hole, the edge has been weakened and you might ruin it. That’s why I mentioned “on the edge of a surface”.


-It’s also important to bend them symmetrical so that the edges be equal to each other.


-At this stage, when you have “U” shaped them all…you must align the holes on each metal piece by both axis.  



Finally, we come to the last stage.

Take every “U” shaped metal piece and place it under that modified hinge and in specific, between the pivot and a wooden pad. Then with a round nose plier exert pressure on the metal piece at the same time at both sides of the hinge. One or two passes will give you that “Ω” shape-the result you want. No need to mention, practice always leads to improvement…


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What has left is the “key” of the shackle.

You might find your way to represent that “key” but following the above method, you have to consider at least the diameter of the holes of the shackles. It’s rather rare to find something to look like nail…3-4 mm long and with less than 0,50 mm in diameter.


Thankfully I recalled a tip from another mate some years before.

For those who are not familiar with the inner of a pc, the processor has one of its surfaces full of pins. What I did, is to set up a small fire in my backyard and take the last offer of an Athlon processor….

Then I collected many and ready for use “keys” for my shackles.

For those who will follow the same tip, you will find that many of those pins come out with some lead on their head. Don’t panic. Just keep them with a tweezers over a lighter's flame…





That’s all mates. I hope at least I have inspired you and I’m sorry if you get tired with the use of English language... post-617-0-82745500-1465123436.gif


Many thanks

Edited by Thanasis
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanasis, I don't want to accuse you of being a 'copy-cat' as you probably don't read German - and therefore didn't see the article I published in 1980 in a modelling magazine that describes exactly the same technique ;)



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Thank you all for your comments mates.


wefalck . Thank you also for your notice.

Well, believe it or not I wasn't even thinking to involved with ship modeling back in 1980 (at my 18) therefore at that time I wasn't following any ship modeling magazine and especially in German language, which I don't speak or write.

Wanting or not to accuse me, and being (me) a bad user of the English language, what really bothers me in your notice, is your words "probably" (I don't read German) and the "exactly" (same technique).

By those words what I get, is that you have doubts whether this technique is not a copy and you decided to share it with the forum.

I really can't read the text in the pdf of your link, so apart from what I can see (a drawing which shows a piece of wire being flattened at its edges - what else someone could think at first making shackles), I would like to translate the text and point me out the "exact" same procedure.

Many thanks

Edited by Thanasis
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I tried to be 'tongue-in-the-cheek'


I often found that it is very hard to get across the intention of how you say something. The message is written and body language is not readable, the lack of intonation is a definite problem too. Besides these factors, at MSW we deal with quite a few people whom do not have English as a native language, some of which even use a translation site to be able to communicate here with us all, which I find very commendable, and which amongst other things makes this site such a great place to "hang out"

Edited by cog
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Thank you all for your comments mates.


Wefalck. I accept you explanation, although I would prefer this 'tongue-in-the-cheek' expression been placed at the beginning of your sentence, or with a more relevant emoticon... :P 

To set you free from the translation (you may write it if you like) just tell me whether in the text is there any reference on haemostatic pliers with hole to make scratch marks, or small hinge to shape the shackles over. I won’t expect to find any reference on PC processor though.

In case of not, then the word “exactly” (the same), should be used with care.


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