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Half Hull Planking Project by dcicero - Planking Tutorial by tlevine

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I am the proud owner of Toni's Introduction to Planking Kit #1 and, since I've got a little time off during the holidays, I decided to get started.  I started by reading the instructions.  (I've heard that enough times from Kurt to know to start there and it's mentioned in Toni's instructions.  It's good advice and I found, even reading through them, I made at least one error early on.)


I mounted the plans to a piece of foam board, as instructed.  Then I laid out the keel, keelson, stem components, deadwood and sternpost on the sheet to understand how they all fit together.



Next step is to cut the rabbet.  I'll confess I read this section multiple times and Toni's posts here on MSW, which are slightly different from the instruction manual I have.  I'm hoping I got this part right.


Toni says, "Measure the thickness of your planking.  On this model I used 1/32" basswood which actually measured 0.43" thick."  I had to think about that for a minute.  1/32" is 0.03125", quite a ways from 0.43".  Then I measured the planking material in the kit:


I think this is a combination typo and a little dyslexia.  The instruction manual should say 0.034" instead of 0.43".  Doesn't matter.  I figured it out and understand the point.  You need that measurement to transfer it to the keel components, which I did.  I did a little experimentation to make sure I drew an accurate line on those components.  I set my compass, drew a line on some scrap paper and then measured it with the caliper.  I had to do that a few times to adjust the compass properly, but it paid off.


I drew lines on both the outboard and top edges.  (This is something Toni didn't say to do, but it made sense to me.  It the angle is supposed to be 45°, then you need to know both sides of the right triangle to get the hypotenuse right ... right?




I have just a couple of observations.  First, scraping the char off the components is a necessary task, I know, but I would urge people to take their time with it.  I could have used power tools to do this or gone after it with some really coarse sandpaper, but I used the back of an old X-Acto blade as a scraper.  It worked great and I didn't risk damaging the components.  It took a little longer than other methods, but I think it was a good call.


For cutting the rabbet, again, I could have used power tools for that.  I decided not to and I'm glad I did.  (Toni designed this kit to be done by people without access to all that stuff, so it's not necessary.)  I used the X-Acto blade again and then some sanding sticks to finish it off.  That worked very well and, although it took a while, the results were better than I think I could have gotten with power tools.  Small planes would have worked too.  I tried to use mine, but found they were a little too aggressive and thought if I used them I might inadvertently take off more wood than I wanted to.


And no project would be complete without some errors.  Even though the instructions are very clear about how far aft to go with the keel rabbet -- Figure 10 shows how far to carve it -- I still carved it all the way aft.  I corrected that right away by gluing in some scrap wood and returning the keel to a square profile.  Best thing about a wooden ship model: there's nothing you can't fix.


Here's the final product.



Now on to the frames.


Per the instructions, "the slots on the keelson were laser cut approximately 1/16" too shallow to help prevent breakage of the basswood keelson while making the rabbet."  So I need to deepen them that 1/16" which will bring the distance between the bottom of the frame and the rabbet to about 1/16".



Off to the next step!







Edited by dcicero

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Increasing the depth of the slots in the keelson turned out to be a quick job.  I used a combination of a #17 X-Acto blade (a small chisel with exactly the right width) and a #11 X-Acto blade for some cleanup.  Then I mounted the dead flat (DF) frame using the method Toni describes.


You can see the frame is about 1/16" closer to the rabbet than it was before deepening the slot.



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Thanks for your great photos and detailed explanations of your build. I will be doing this project too and will certainly be following your project.

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As per the instructions on Page 13, I glued "frames E through 4 to the keelson and the building board" and installed the spacers between them.  That, as the instructions said, took some trimming and shimming to get right.


One thing I'm a little concerned about is the snaggle-toothed aspect of the tops of the frames.



I know fairing of the hull is critical and the bottoms of the frames, adjacent to the keel rabbet is fairly true, but the tops look different from Toni's pictures and look like they're going to require some surgery to get right.


The next job is drawing the bearding line and then tapering the deadwood to accept the planks as they meet the sternpost.  I "temporarily installed the deadwood and Frames G and H."  Then I made a mark on the forward lower edge of the frames to define the bearding line.  Using a French curve, I drew the bearding line.






You might notice two lines in the picture above.  That's because the written instructions say to make the marks and draw the lines to define the curve from the forward bottom edges of frames G and H.  Here on MSW, Toni recommended making another mark at the bottom of Frame F, giving three points to define the curve.  I did it both ways to see what would happen and it didn't make a nickel's difference.


The deadwood has to be one plank thickness thinner at the sternpost and the keel than it is at the bearding line.  It's a very subtle change.  The deadwood is 0.127" thick.  That thickness needs to be reduced by the thickness of the planks: 0.035".  That means the final thickness will be 0.092" at the keel and sternpost, but will increase upward and forward to the original 0.127" thickness at the bearding line.


To make sure I didn't take off too much wood, I marked the plank thickness on the bottom and stern of the deadwood.


Then I started carving.  I've used only hand tools up to this point, but I did use my Dremel with a sanding burr to do this work.  I tried to get a good picture of the rabbet at the deadwood and the keel to show how this looks.



Once the carving is done, the deadwood, sternpost and L-shaped piece are glued to the board.


And then Frames F and G have to be installed.  The bottom of Frame G has to be tapered to conform with the bearding line.



That's it for today.  Pretty good progress, I think.






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The next step required some surgery to Frame 4A.  As you can see on the errata sheet included with the kit, Frame 4A needs a little wood added to it to bring it to the right shape.  I had some 1/16" basswood in my wood pile which I used to make these modifications.  I needed three layers to get it right.



Here's the finished product.


And here it is installed.  A little trickier to get the clamps in there.


Then I installed the spacers.



The next frame (5A) is a little tricky to install.  There is no notch in the keelson for this frame because cutting one would have made the keelson too thin.  I followed Toni's directions on this, extending the lines for Frame 5a onto the keelson and then figuring out where the notch has to be to get the forward corner of the frame almost to the keel rabbet.  You can see where I cut the keelson away and cut the notch.




In the end, a little of the bottom of the frame chipped off.  I needed to sand it a little to get the back of the frame to contact the building board.  Rather than shim it up, I decided to cut it down...  I hope that was a good call.


Finally, I installed Frame 5a, the final forward frame.  (Enough alliteration for you?)







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One last little detail had to be taken care of on the bow:  addition of a shim that closes the gap between Frame 5A and the rabbet.  I cut a shim from a piece of basswood.



And installed it.



Then on to the stern, I installed the transom.




And that completes all the frames.



I noticed when I tried to draw in the topline, that Frame 2 was just barely tall enough.  I added a little shim to that.  Most of it will be removed when the frames are cut down, but I wanted to be able to cut down to something, not just leave it as it was.



I went over to Michael's -- a local craft store -- to get some chart tape.  The clerk gave me the RCA Victor dog look.



Seems you have to go to a "real art store" for that kind of thing.  The nearest one is quite a drive, so I decided to go to the auto parts store and see what they had.  Sure enough:  pinstriping tape.



Got a roll of this for about $4.00.


Then I marked the topline on the model and blackened the area that needs to be removed.




There is going to be a lot of fairing to be done on this hull.  Some of the frames are too far inboard and the curve of the hull...  Well, it was hard getting that chart tape on because the differences between the frames was very great.  Time for a lot of cutting and chopping now.








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I got a little more time over the weekend to make some progress on the planking project.  I sawed off the excess at the tops of the frames.



I'm not completely happy with the results I achieved.  When I lay a batten on the tops of the frames, there are gaps.  I think I'm going to correct these before I move along too far.



I started fairing the hull.  I added some black lines to the centers of the frames, as Toni has suggested here on MSW.



I can see this is going to take a while to get right and I think I'm going to add some wood to at least some of the frames.  As you can see below, either Frame 2 is too proud or Frame 1 needs to be built up.  Looking at it, I think Frame 1 needs to be built up.  I can't explain why it turned out this way.  The bottom of the frame sits just as it should against the building board.  The notch in the keel is the correct depth.  It's just a mystery to me.  I started fairing, but was taking off more wood than I thought I should.  Like Toni says in the instructions, this step takes a while and requires some care and frequent checking, so I'm prepared to put in some effort on this.





Edited by dcicero

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I'm interested to know how to determine whether a frame is undersized and should be built up or the adjacent frames are a bit oversized and should be sanded down a bit more? I've just eyeballed it when using a batten to check the fairing and made my best guess.





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1 hour ago, dcicero said:

Looking at it, I think Frame 2 needs to be built up.  I can't explain why it turned out this way. 

I think my frame 2 needs to be slightly built up (I believe that you typo'd the above and meant frame 1 needs to be built up?) and I also can't completely figure out why; frame D for me is too proud and needs severe fairing but I made a mistake and it doesn't quite sit flush on the building board (unfortunately I didn't notice this until too late).


I wanted to drop in and let you know that you're doing a great job and following your build has helped me with mine, thank you!

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1 hour ago, VTHokiEE said:

I believe that you typo'd the above and meant frame 1 needs to be built up?

Thanks!  You're right.  I'll go back and fix that...


And thanks for the compliment.  I've been stuck on another project because I didn't know how to properly plank the hull.  This project will teach me the skills I need to work on the other project!




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Work's been progressing on my half hull, although slowly.  Toni, in her instructions says about fairing the hull, "[t]ake your time and take several breaks. It took me several hours spaced over a few days until I was happy with the hull shape."  Okay.  I can say it has taken me many hours over several weeks ... and I'm still not convinced I've got this right.


I've built up some frames and cut down others, as can be seen here.


Working around the stern confused me quite a bit.  The instructions say, "Do not sand off the aft edge of Frame H, as seen in the blue oval in Figure 44. This is where the counter will be installed later."


Of course, I found it difficult not to sand off some of that aft edge, but I shimmed it back to its original state, sanded more and installed the counter.


I'm going to jump ahead a little because, at this point, I thought I was golden.  Counter's installed; frames faired.  On to the next thing:  marking out the wale.


The instructions say, "Using the same technique employed to mark the top of the frames (machinist's square), mark the top and/or bottom of the wale."  Well, that's quite a trick because the spacers already installed obscure, in my cases, the curves on the plans showing where the wales should be.  I did all kinds of contortions with my machinist square and other tools and implements to get these lines marked out.  In some cases, it just wasn't possible to mark both sides of the frame or even get to some of them.




When I connected the lines, it looked like I'd done so coming off a three-day bender.  We discussed this at the NRMSS meeting last night and the consensus was that this step should be done before putting in those spacers.  If I'd done that, this would have taken five minutes.  As it was, it took quite a long time to get to something that looked reasonable.





Now that I'm at this point, I have a question about how the stern is supposed to look.  I know how critical this fairing operation is.  I've screwed it up in the past and it's almost impossible to cover up a bad fairing job, so I know effort put in now will pay off later.  


I've certainly taken off, as you can see in the photo above, the aft edge of Frame H, but I think that's okay because the counter is installed.  But look at this.




Should that low area be there?  Should I build that up?  Or just leave it as it is?


Any guidance on this would be appreciated.  Certainly I'm going to noodle on it some more ... because that's what I do.






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Posted (edited)

It took me a while, but I figured this thing out.  As usual, it required getting the right tool for the job.  I chose, in this case, bourbon.  This stuff has a thousand and one uses, I swear.


The fundamental problem, I figured out, was the placement of the counter.  The instructions do say "it sits on the curved part of the L-shaped piece already glued to the plan."  The thing I didn't understand that was that the bottom edge of it needed to conform with the bottom edge of the L-shaped piece.  I had the joint between the L-shaped piece and the deadwood running down the center of the edge of the counter.  That tiny difference, well, it made all the difference.


I cut out the counter.



You can see where the counter had been glued.


So then I reinstalled it, higher by a little bit, and, of course, that changed the whole geometry of the stern.  I did some cutting, shaping and carving and came up with this.




This is a difficult spot to take a picture of, but I think you can see the difference between before and after.  Now the pinstripe lays flat against the hull all the way around the stern.





Edited by dcicero
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