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Elsewhere on this forum there is a heated discussion going on about the kind of wood to use for modeling, should you grow your own, etc.

But how about 'non-woods'?

I have seen beautiful models made out of ivory and bone. I am not sure if anyone has made a complete model out of metal, but how about Corian????


Corian is an acrylic based material made by DuPont for use in kitchen counter tops. We have it and I love it. It is easy to keep clean, works great for kneading pasta, and you can buff it to re-shine or repair the surface.
So, I tried to cut a piece left over and band-sawed it. Worked fine. Then I chucked a piece in my mill and cut a 1/16 inch groove. Worked like a charm with nice clean edges.

post-246-0-89594700-1471055956.jpg  post-246-0-45089700-1471055968.jpg

I want to use some to make cannons and carronades for my model. So, we'll see how that goes.


Does any one have experience working with Corian or other similar products? I know there are some Youtube videos out there.

Edited by Modeler12
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Use whatever works best for you. Most of the time whatever you use other than wood to start out with gets painted 99% of the time anyway,and who cares what's under the paint.

And I have used wood, brass plastic and steel for wooden parts that I ended up painting to look like wood in the end. And the result was that if I did not tell what it was made of,all thought it was WOOD!

In our building group our founder and owner of the hobby shop could not stand that I was using evergreen plastic for parts on my wooden ships instead of brass. We argued about it,I said that since it was painted black ,that if I had not told him otherwise,he would have assumed that it was made out of brass and either painted or blackened.

After about 3 years and beating him in contest's for those years,he finally is quite about the subject.


It's your shipyard.


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In my humble opinion, if you are going to call it a wooden ship model, those elements that would be made of wood on a real ship, should be made of wood.  

Non wood ship elements, I'm not sure it really makes any difference unless you're building it for a museum. 



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If the model is for yourself and not for competition or museums then really it is completely up to you what materials you use in its construction. I would be interested to see what all could be done with different materials.

Corian is interesting and the company my admiral works for deals with it on a regular basis. Might be something I could look into though personally I would not put it on my wooden ships as I prefer to keep those all wood but I may have a use for it on the railroad. :)

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Ahoy Mates


Regarding wooden ship model contest's,who holds them and what are their rules?

As far as IPMS shows they used to be limited to only plastic models or some high percentage of plastic used in the model. The latest rules are stated as "material that is appropriate " which does not exempt wooden ship models.


Our local IPMS club changed their name from Oregon Historical Modelers Society  to Oregon Modelers Society since their are now more car builders and other types of modelers in the club. 


And I know that there are standards established for museums models.



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I will try to turn some of the Corian I have and see how small I can go (diameter). I also want to try other things like bending it (with a little heat?).

As far as I am concerned, ship modeling is just that and I don't call them 'wooden ship models'. Like I mentioned, there are beautiful museum quality models made out of ivory.
If you like to use wood for those parts made out of wood on the real ship, fine. But shouldn't you also be using steel for the cannons (not brass, although there were some, of course) and no plastic what so ever? Hemp should be used for the rigging, no synthetics, no nylon, of course. That I think is stretching things a bit too far B) .


For those interested, I will let you know about my machining experiments later on.

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Ok, more questions and that is good.

Let me mention what I have done today. It is with regards to earlier questions.


Painting Corian is no problem. Will it stick? That is the real question and I will find out tomorrow morning after the sample below has had a decent time to 'cure'. The top and bottom of the slab were 'as received' and the edges were machined (and in one case sanded by me). I''ll scratch the surfaces tomorrow.


Can I cut strips? I used my large table saw and cut a slice off the slab. I didn't really care to set the thickness exactly, I just wanted to see how it cut and what the surface looked like. I found that it cut more uniformly than most woods. It was easy to lead it through the saw blade and the cut surface was just fine. The thickness ended up being 0.085 inches with a variation of +/- 0.002 inches along its length.


Will it bend? Corian is impervious to most liquids and steam won't do diddily.

Being a thermal plastic I figured heat would be the only way. As it turned out it took a lot of heat before it would take a change of shape. I broke the strip on my first try when I bent it too cold.

More heat and then a heavy weight did the trick.

On hind sight, that is just as well, because this is a material for kitchen counter tops and I have placed hot pots on it with no harm (but not too long, please, says the admiral).

The material sands well. Is the dust harmful? Probably, if you were to inhale it. It is just like cutting any thermoplastic such as clear acrylic. It smell bad, so don't breath the smoke. If it smokes, stop cutting. Use ventilation and common sense.


Tomorrow I will try to put some on my mini lathe.

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Looks interesting.  I'm wondering about glue....?  

Good point, Mark.

I am positive that AC will work if the surfaces are smooth enough and in good contact.

After all, Kodak developed AC (known as Eastman 910 back then) for use in spllcing acetate film.


PVA most likely will not work and epoxy most likely will. I'll give them a try.

PVA was designed for use on wood products and I cannot see how that will hold plastics together.

Epoxies work with plastics if you prepare the surface by sanding, etc. The release agents used on plastic parts needs to be removed. 


Perhaps MEK based glues used on plastic models might work.

We'll see.

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Mark, to repaint a counter top and expect it to be ok is a real test that paint will work. I am not sure that we have to worry too much about wear and tear for our model ships.

For an interesting article about epoxies go to:



Note in particular the fact that epoxy resin is relatively harmless to the skin; however, the hardener can be very much so. There are several different chemicals that will act as 'hardeners' or catalysts, but the one I use causes itching very quickly after contact. I have to wash my hands with soap soon afterwards. Of course, the manufacturer won't tell you what they use, unless you send for their MSDS.

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Before I go to bed tonight, I decided to add a couple more 'tests' about glue.


I took the broken pieces of Corian (0.085 inch thick) and glued them with some CA.


Then I took the previously cut piece and glued it to the slab with some PVA.


We'll see what happens tomorrow when I try to 'break' them along with the others.

I left out the epoxy test because I already know it would outshine the others. So why bother? :rolleyes:


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Don, that could be where the rub lies. The stuff is not cheap.

You can buy tiny samples at Home Depot or go directly to DuPont.


You can see the large variety of colors to choose from.


A 2x2 inch sample costs $4.00 at DuPont (or $10 at Home Depot). A 10x10 inch sample is $23.50. Don't ask how much a whole counter top would cost.


If there is a local contractor who installs kitchen counter tops, you might be able to get some scrap pieces. That is how I got mine.

If I can turn it well on my lathe, I might still consider buying some black for making the cannons I need, or paint them.

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How is the weight? I guess if it was only a few pieces it would not be very noticable but if you used a lot of it, say if you were to use it make canons on a 100 plus gun ship, how much weight difference do you think there would be?


I am familiar with Corian as my wife sells it at her work but I have never worked with it personally and she is not familiar enough with model ships or the scales we deal with to give me an accurate estimation on the weight ratios.

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Weight should not be a problem if you compare it with materials typically used to make cannons. Brass and pewter are much heavier. Wood is lighter but not often used to make cannons. I don't know the exact density of Corian but it is probably similar to Plexiglass (acrylics).


Here are some results of my tests. I took videos of all of this but it takes a while to edit and publish that. Perhaps I'll add more later and show the results. But let me use words instead, right now.


1. Bonding Corian with PVA did not work. It fell apart almost by lifting the pieces off the table. No big surprise.

2. My first try using CA did not fare much better, but that was because I did not sand the surfaces. They were as cut on my table saw. When I repeated the CA test after sanding the results were much better. Pulling on the two strips was very strong (I could not break it). However, when bent the two came apart with a snap. This 'cleavage test' is tough on any adhesive including epoxy.

3. Borden's plastic cement did not work very well which surprised me.


The upshot is to try epoxy and if that does not work I'll give up using Corian for anything that needs a strong bond.


Meanwhile I tried turning a square piece in my small lathe. I purposely had the piece stick out of the chuck by about 2 inches. As expected, it chattered a lot when I used a regular bit until I got down to round stock. I forced the issue and took a good size bite which broke the piece in two. The cantilevered end just did not like what I did to it.


I repeated this but after getting it round, I drilled a center hole in the end and used a center support to turn the piece down to about 3/16 inch. After that I forced the bit towards the center and as expected the part broke.

With care I am sure I could have gone down to 1/8 inch diameter and with a shorter piece and some support down further. However, I learned enough to say that this was no worse than I have happen with wood. Metals such as brass are better, of course.


Finally let me just say that I would not make a 'wooden ship model' with Corian, but I may use it for small parts such as cannons and special items. 


Let me add this picture. The drawing is full size of the cannons I need. The break did not come as a surprise because I knew that I was stretching the bite I was taking. So, next time . . .


Edited by Modeler12
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Well, I have given up on Corian for modeling (for now).


I tried to turn another piece i my lathe to make a corronade and it also broke. It is just too brittle.

It worked well with my mill, cuts nice and clean, takes paint, but is so-so with adhesives and it is too fussy when any force is applied to the side (like in turning a lathe project).


But, like the old saying goes, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' (or something like that).

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Installation contractors are able to cement corean panels together so well that you cannot find the seam. I saw them do it when they installed our bathroom countertops. Unfortunately, I don' know what they used.


As far as suitability for "Wooden ship models". That bridge has already been crossed. MDF and plywood are hardly traditional materials and what about miniraturists who use brass rod for spars and wire for running rigging? Assuming that the stuff can be worked and glued I don't see that it is any different from the casting resins.


Roger Pellett

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I am a little late to this but figured I would throw my two cents in, I have fabricated more than a few solid surface counter tops in my days as a residential cabinet maker.


For adhesives we used an MMA product (Methyl Methacrilate) that was blended with a colorant to make the seams disappear. Weldon 45 is good also but at the sizes we are talking here its extremely expensive, a 45ml cartridge is $30 and then you need the tips and dedicated applicator gun. About $100.00 total.


As you mentioned Corian is an acrylic product so Weldon16 might work, I think Home Depot sells it. Weldon3 is water thin, it might work. Weldon 40 should work also. I havent tried any of these three products with solid surface so take it with a grain of salt.


Prep wise I was taught to never use an impact cutting tool - table saw, jig saw etc, the micro grooves left by the blade was supposed to create a stress riser that could cause a fracture. In practice though we used a 10" 60 tooth TCG blade with a -5 degree hook angle. Then all joints were cleaned up with a spiral router bit. We cleaned our joints with acetone before gluing up and just enough clamping pressure to bring everything together.


You can turn solid surface materials, I think what might be happening here is the scale we work at, like you discovered it frigile. Also your cutting tool should not leave a sharp inside corner, that whole stress riser thing again.


As you found it's heat formable, like acrylic sheets you just need to heat slowly and completely, an oven works best. IMO a heat gun is too fast and localized.


It looks like you have abandoned the process but like I said I figured I would throw my two cents in.



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Interesting topic! For many years I have been using so called tooling board for my models. Mainly with car and tank models in the scale of 1/6. I have used the product called Sikablock, but there are many other trade names for this material too. The board is perfect material for sawing, sanding, turning, milling, etc. and can be glued & painted with ease. It behaves like wood, but doesn't have grain. Can be bought in many densities starting from almost foamlike to hardwood, and turning cannons or parts like that is no problem. I have often thought to build a complete ship model of this material, and after painting you couldn't say it is not made of wood.

Edited by Moxis
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Sam, I am out of town right now, but I was very interested in your comments and experience with Corian.

The sample piece I have worked with was left over from our kitchen counter top that was installed several  years ago. The top is a large u-shaped surface and the seams were not at the intersections but about six inches up from that. I recall that the installer used some kind of 'cement' that matched the color and pattern real well. In fact, to this day you cannot see where the joints are.


I still think that this material has some properties that could be useful in model making, but its brittleness makes it too sensitive for what I was trying to do.


But just the same, as others have said trying other materials can be fun and interesting.. Some might work, others not.

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Enjoy your trip Jay.


Yes the seams should be off set from the corners to lessen the chances of the joint failing and the inside corners should have a radius.


As far as the adhesive its a two part MethylMethAcrlolate with a colorant added. I dont recall if the color packs are proprietary to to each manufacturer - Corian, Fountainhead, Avanite etc. I suspect you would have a hard time purchasing some. When I was fabricating you had to be certified, however, I have heard rumblings that that is no longer the case. Either way MMA adhesives are an expensive way to go. I suspect your best bet is epoxy or an acrylic cement like Weldon16 or Weldon40. Both Weldon products have Methylene Chloride in them so wear proper respirator.


I would think you could add some dye to the cement or epoxy to help hide the seam. Someplace like Smoothon, SilPak or BJB Enterprises should have dyes. A talk with one of their techs should tell you if the dye will color epoxy.


I did a quick Google search of "dyes for epoxy" and the top hit was StewMac.com He has two powdered furniture dyes that are for epoxy, they are made by Behlen. As I recall Behlen has a large lineup of tinting and touchup powders, mostly wood/earth tones but also primary colors too. They should blend in to epoxy as well as the Weldon products I mentioned.


Good luck and have a safe trip.




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I used some Corian for the spark plugs on the engine for Skipjack










I found that it turned well enough, Perhaps small cannons could be shaped after a hole is bored first then a steel or brass rod inserted to aid in supporting before shaping the external profile.



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That is some nice work Micheal. What are the threaded brass items next to the corian in the top picture?


A supporting rod might help. I have never worked solid surface or acrylics at the scale we work at but my suspicion is that the slightest bit of chatter and the part will break. I dont have a mill or a lathe that can work at these sizes so I will have to watch and learn. I do know somebody who has successfully turned pens out of solid surface materials but other than the area where the ferule (?) attaches they are smooth.


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I am a late comer to this topic.

The question asked was : Does it have to be wood?


In my opinion, if it was wood in the original, then yes! It has to be wood. Unfortunately this is not always practical in ship modeling.

Making belaying pins at 1/90 or smaller scale is almost impossible. I would love to see (and I am yet to see)  a kit where everything that was wood in the original, is wood in the kit.

My other hobby and part business is turning pens. Wood is my favorite media. I turn acrylics only because they are much more colorful and some people likes the reds and blues and yellows and sparkling goldens. I have also turned some corian, but it comes out very dull. There are not bright colors in corian,

So to me, wood is wood and by far, my preferred material to both make ships and turning pens.

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