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EricWilliamMarshall

nubie question regarding string and knots

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What is the best way of make a clean cut of string (or hiding the string fuzz at the end)?

What are the standard knots (if any) for model rigging?

Are there standard references folks would recommend (I love books)?

I'm using mostly square knots and it's a bit slow, plus I have the tiny 'ends' that stick out. If I cut them too close, the knot falls apart. 
Also, what is the best way to cut the string? Sawing away with the X-acto fuzzes the string end for me. 

Thanks for your time (and expertise)! Everyone's models here look amazing!

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For cotton thread, use a new blade in your hobby knife or sewing scissors.   I find that it helps to brush the area of the cut lightly with a 50-50 mix of white glue and water.  Let it dry so while it's drying, do something else on the model :), then cut with hobby knife or scissors.   I'm partial to using sewing scissors.  I have one that is only used for rigging thread.

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If you befriend your barber/hair stylist, get an old pair of their hair cutting scissors and have professionally sharpened.  He/she will have such a contact.  They are extremely good at snipping the ends without a trace of a tail and will last for years.  Better is to get a new pair but top quality scissors will be well over $100.   In the end, as with most things, you get what you pay for.

Allan 

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The tool of choice would depend on the location and its accessibility. I typically use the following:

 

- micro-scissors for eye-surgerey (Castrovejo-style); they can be very expensive, but I got mine as 'seconds', which are good enough for our purposes - check ebay et al., where one can find all sorts of medical instruments these days; the most useful is the curved type, as it lets you get close to the point of cutting.

image.jpeg.c2983ad42a20feeb88a7355e9e028c50.jpeg

(Found even on Amazon ...)

 

- ordinary scalpels with replaceable blades

 

- broken-off pieces of razor-blades - there a special holders for these, but they are ridiculously expensive; you can hold it in a pin-vise with a double-slotted head/collet; razor blades probably give the cleanest cuts after scissors.

 

- antique biological lancets for tight spaces; they have to be honed on an arkansas stone to have a really keen edge.

 

Don't use your scissors and lancets for anything else but rigging work.

 

I soak all splices and knots in clear varnish, rather than PVA or CA glue, as I can loosen them with solvent, should the need arise.

 

Incidentally, you will find that splices are much more common than knots. The latter are mainly used to belay ropes, rather than attaching them to say blocks. You can fake splices by drawing the end twice through itself using a needle, cutting off the excess and then roll the splice between your fingers with a bit of varnish on.

Edited by wefalck

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I concur with wefalck  - to get a clean end you need to treat the thread with "something"

I prefer just dilute white glue -

varnish is good but thin it and try before use in case of "shine", -

CA is a no no in my book it doesnt age well ( but a touch at the end of a thread is THE way to create a "needle" for block threading BUT cut the end off when threadng is done)

I use nail clippers for cutting off - but it is hard to find a set which is like a sidecutter and doesnt have an inset on the cutters

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Nail polish is essentially the same as zapon lacquer, except that is comes in smaller bottles and, hence, is more expensive ... Beware, some nail polishes are acrylic-based and do not dissolve readily.

Edited by wefalck

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The nail polish is only being used to tip the line, not coat the entire length. Fast drying makes quick work.

 

More expensive? he doesn't need a gallon of the stuff n $2 for an ounce is not going to break the bank. That ounce will last a long time as well.

 

 

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Ok, coating and dedicated scissors/blades seem to be in the consensus. I have bunch coatings within the house to try first (since they are at hand and no additional cost). For the moment, I'll try to resist the urge to buy surgical scissors (but I hear their siren song calling...) Thank you GregorymtaylorallanyedwefalckSpyGlass, and paul ron for your sage advice!!

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Perhaps I wouldn't use the word 'coating' and the underlying concept. The idea is to soak the rope material in order to stiffen it. When soaked-in, the lacquer/varnish becomes invisble, a 'coating' by definition is a visible layer.

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My bad, forgive the imprecision in my choice of words. I believe I understand the stiffening concept. I appreciate your help and your effort to impart clarity! By the way, you have quite the website! Such models (and such tools)! Very inspiring! 

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45 minutes ago, EricWilliamMarshall said:

Do all knots themselves need to be glued or soaked as well? The kit’s string is slippery and untie when jostled lightly making impossible to tie more than one string to a single location.

Generally, yes. A lot depends upon the knot tied, of course. They can loosen over time with changes in humidity and so on. When they come loose, it can often be very difficult to reach them to re-tie them if access is blocked by later construction. I use thin shellac, which is easily and neatly dissolved with alcohol if a knot later needs to be undone. It doesn't take much to hold a properly tied knot fast with a touch of thin shellac. Shellac, which is malleable as it stiffens, also permits forming lines into proper coils and curves so the thread appears to hang like real rope. It is invisible when dried.

 

The thread provided in your kit is quite possibly junk and out of scale, as well. This is a common thing with kits. You'd probably find the scale cordage sold by Syren Ship Models to be a huge improvement. (Click on their advertiser's bar on the forum home page.) 

Edited by Bob Cleek

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I actually have some shellac in the house! Does the color matter (I.e. white vs. orange)? The string in question is what came in the box from Revell. Thanks, Bob for taking the time to help!

Edited by EricWilliamMarshall
Missed the obvious

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Would some kind person point me to some info on basic ship model knots? 

 

It’s to quite possible I’m approaching that part incorrectly as well!

Edited by EricWilliamMarshall

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12 minutes ago, EricWilliamMarshall said:

I actually have some shellac in the house! Does the color matter (I.e. white vs. orange)? The string in question is what came in the box from Revell. Thanks, Bob for taking the time to help!

If the shellac is thinned (use alcohol,) it shouldn't make a huge difference. Clear shellac is better, as it has no color. "Orange" shellac has an orange cast when thinly applied. As coats are built up, as in French polishing furniture finishing, orange shellac will build up to a rich, dark brown color, which may, or may not, be desirable, depending upon your intentions. As always, when in doubt, run a test and see if it suits your purposes before applying it to the model itself.

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These are the same as the 'real' ones. I usually get away with the half-hitch, double-half-hitch, clove-hitch, reef-knot and perhaps the sheet-bend. There are lot of Internet-resources on how to tie these knots, including animations (if you a geometrically challenged).

 

As to the shellac, which usually has a slightly orange tint, you have to try it out on the material you want to use. The more it is diluted the less the colour becomes visible, but also its sticking capability reduces. Like so many things in modelling, you just have to try and find out what works best for you and the materials you are using.

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38 minutes ago, EricWilliamMarshall said:

Would some kind person point me to some info on basic ship model knots? 

 

It’s to quite possible I’m approaching that part incorrectly as well!

Basic overhand and square knots and hitches generally serve for most all model rigging purposes. I'd recommend that you do a search on YouTube for "surgical instrument knot tying" or "surgical knot tying with instruments" and you will find a large number of instructional videos designed for teaching suturing techniques to medical students. The principles are easily grasped. Once you learn how to tie tiny knots with fine thread using tweezers and forceps like a trained surgeon, you'll be amazed how much easier model rigging knot tying will be!

Edited by Bob Cleek

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I usually use model airplane white glue (Sig-Bond aliphatic resin) to secure knots and prevent loose ends from unraveling. It soaks into the threads and dries fairly quickly.

 

I place a tiny drop (undiluted) on the end of a sharp metal point (dental tool) and work it into the knot. It dries clear without a shine. It can be loosed with a drop of water if needed.

 

Some threads like silk and polyester will spontaneously unravel within a few minuted after cutting.  After cutting these I poke the ends into the tip of the glue bottle or use the metal point to get a tiny drop on them. Then I roll the end between my fingers, twisting in the direction of the twist of the thread.

 

You can also use this glue to stiffen threads/ropes to make them hang more naturally. However, I have found the the white glue darkens light colored silk threads.

 

Many people dilute the glue 50:50 with water or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol). This can improve how the glue soaks in with some materials, and the alcohol dries quickly.

 

****

 

I have a small sharp scissors that makes clean cuts. Like others said, I use them for nothing else but trimming rigging and sails.

 

I have some surgical scalpels, but the blades are expensive (about US $1.00 each). Instead I just buy boxes of 100 #11 hobby knife blades (US $0.10 to $0.12 each) - for the cost of a few scalpel blades - and switch to a new one when they get a bit dull. They are available locally and are more than adequate for cutting thread and carving thin wood.

 

Beware that some of the "scalpel" blades on ebay or the Internet are fakes, or used dull blades. If you want real scalpel blades buy from a surgical supply house.

Edited by Dr PR

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My thanks to Wefalck, Bob and the good Doctor! I will look into both and report back. Thanks again!

Edited by EricWilliamMarshall
I didn’t see Welfalck’s sage response!

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8 hours ago, EricWilliamMarshall said:

Would some kind person point me to some info on basic ship model knots? 

 

It’s to quite possible I’m approaching that part incorrectly as well!

 

There is a site for knot tying with just about any knot you'd want.  Once section is for nautical knots:    https://www.animatedknots.com/

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After bit of experimenting, it turns out the string provided by the kit is unusually slick and that was the chief difficultly. I tried rosin and wax, and I tried white glue and super glue and still the knots would come a part. Yick.

 

i switched to regular polyester thread, and my progress was much swifter! While bracingly grueling, the previously difficulties probably probably helped develop my fledgling skills. Oddly enough, the regular thread is less ‘fiddlely’ when trying to manipulate it and easier to maintain the tension I wish. So the new thread is markedly faster to work with!

 

I also discovered the doctor’s knot (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surgeon's_knot) as a side-effect of following Bob Cleek’s suggestion about examining surgical knots. It makes for a slightly larger knot but it hold it’s tension better when compared to a ‘regular’ overhand knot.

 

Again my thanks to everyone for their help and advice!

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Folks may also be interested to know about resources behind the website mtaylor suggested: https://www.animatedknots.com/references.

 

It lists two:

The Ashley Book of Knotsir?t=aniknobygro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=03850402 by Clifford W. Ashley was published in 1944 by Doubleday (New York), and 

 

Bushby’s Manuscripts - Between 1902 and 1926 Henry North Grant Bushby created “Notes on Knots” – seven manuscript volumes plus an index volume. These are now available on-line thanks to the Mariner’s Museum.

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Knots are actually a bit of intuitive engineering, meaning that people over the millennia realised what knot with what material gave the best holding power, while still being able to be loosened (which is a key property in marine knots!) if and when required.

 

Originally, these knots where developed for twisted/laid rope. There, the holding power derives from two properties: the locking of the strands of the rope and the friction between the different parts of the ropes. For this reason, some traditional knots do not hold very well with modern braided ropes.

 

For the same reason, these knots may not hold very well with straight or only slightly twisted threads. The surgeons use catgut or similar, more modern materials, which is only slightly twisted and quite smooth. Hence the overhand knot does not hold very well and the surgeons added more twists to it. The modeller faces a similar problem, when simple threads instead of a properly laid model-rope is used.

 

One day, you may move to making your own laid rope or buy some ready made and you will see that the mariner's knots will hold much better with this material.

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Normally, (some) maritime knots are designed to allow exactly that, to tie them while the corresponding rope is under tension. So choosing the right knot is the key. In many cases no knots are used to attach ropes, but rather lashings. Running rigging is 'belayed', which involves a sort of temporary knot. So, tightening involves loosenings the lashings or the belayed ropes.

 

I would recommend that you get hold of a modern book on tying knots for yachtsmen, which explaines the basics that would be valid for at least the past 200 to 300 years.

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Knot is a rather generic term.  In reality very few actual knots are employed in rigging a ship.  The most common knot being the reef knot: the name tells you its usage.  Knots were also used to create a knob on the end of a line: Matthew Walkers knot and the Wall and Crown knot for lanyards, man ropes and tack lines, etc.

Most rigging was accomplished with hitches, bends, splices, seizings, and lashings.  All of which can be used to advantage in models.

 

Regards, 

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