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When you have a very thin upper mast, is there something that will make a wood mast stronger?  I have a topmast dowel that is only 1/32" at its fattest and thus much thinner as it tapers.  I'm afraid that the least little tug on the rigging would snap it off.:(  I had thought of soaking it in some kind of varnish or similar product that may harden the wood.  Anyone with any other suggestions?    Dave                                        

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Hi. Depending on the length of the dowel (upper mast) see whether you can cut it in two pieces. Then open holes, at both pieces and place a metal thin rod (unbendable) that will connect them from within. Put the metal rod at one piece of wood at a time and after you have applied some ca glue on its surface.
Finishing you can cover the cut by a hoop, as a part of the rigging.
That's I would try before I turn to make a new one.
Thx

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Thanks for all the suggestions guys!  I considered substituting metal for it but I would have a hard time tapering it.  Cutting it into two pieces and inserting a metal rod on such a thin piece of wood would be tough also, as end drilling a 1/32" dowel would require much more precision to drill than I could handle.  The top mast will be a varnished finish so I may just try a few coats of varnish and see how much strength is gained.  The wood I have is beech which has a fairly high rating for bending strength, but I have some hard maple which has a little higher strength rating and similar appearance.  Maybe I can locate some hickory which has a much higher strength rating but a very inconsistent coloring.  If I'm picky in my selection I can select a piece that has a similar appearance to the beech.  Does any one have a source for some hickory or any other wood that could qualify?

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2 hours ago, BETAQDAVE said:

Does any one have a source for some hickory or any other wood that could qualify?

Hi Dave,

 

I've made smaller section masts (click the link to see some) than that from English Boxwood without any dramas. A good source for it is one of those old wooden folding Carpenter's Rules, but make sure it IS an OLD one - some newer ones are made of a much weaker timber (when they aren't actually plastic :D ).

 

:cheers:  Danny

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Not that I want to spread alarm about breaking spars, but what you are worried about actually happened to the USS Constitution in 1997.  

https://ussconstitutionmuseum.org/2017/04/20/springtime-for-uss-constitution/.  

 

The moral of the story is don't expose your model to 70 mph winds and 2 ft of snow (or the equivalent in whatever scale you're working at)!  

 

On a more practical tone, going to a strong hardwood, such as maple, would be my first choice. However, straight grain is also a larger factor, so best to split the raw material for the rough blank rather than saw it.  Any wood that is going to be subject to bending loads, such as chair backs, bows, etc, are made from split stock.

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1 hour ago, maaaslo said:

also, i would probably try to make it from bamboo... cheap and rather strong...

Pav, the only problem with bamboo is that you can't taper it all that well. Bamboo being a grass has coarse parallel fibres that run the length of the piece, so you are always going to be cutting through the grain. Strength-wise it's among the best (maybe that should read "flexibility wise"?), as you can draw it down to minute diameters with a Drawplate. My Byrnes Drawplate has a smallest diameter of 0.0135" (0.35mm or #80) and I've drawn bamboo through it quite a few times :) .

 

:cheers:  Danny

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I find bamboo to be the go-to material for small wooden spars. The long and tough fibers that run along its length behave like rebar in cement. It resists breaking from any angle, unlike most woods that will fail along the grain on one side or another. Unlike most other woods, you can keep on reducing diameter to a very thin, yet still resilient, thickness. I find tapering bamboo spars to be so easy I'm surprised anyone feels it presents any difficulty. I've had success tapering with a small block plane and/or via sandpaper. If you have never tried tapering with your spar chucked into a drill and using sandpaper on it while it spins you have missed some great fun. Wear eye protection. Drawplates I have never had success with, they are expensive so I only ever purchased one from Micro Mark years ago and it was a lemon. Perhaps there are more effective ones out there but I'm not inclined to pay to find out.

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