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Tips and tricks for Obtaining Great Looking Gunport Cutouts

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 On this build, I used a 'cut-off' Dremel wheel to rough out the gun ports in the solid stock frame supplied via this kit. I made the cut-outs a bit smaller than 'depicted', via the instructions, so I could file and fine tune these gun port openings once all was finally said and done. The ports are now being "said", but still far from being done! Only 'one' gun port, shown in the photo, has actually been completely roughed out. That would be the lowest gun port situated down towards the water line. What I have been doing is planking the hull's exterior, as far as I can, without totally planking over the gun port(s). I've been leaving just enough open space, between my planks and the port opening, to squirrel a jewelers saw into what is left of the opening... then rough cutting the planking away to give me an opening. Once I've cut away an opening, I continue planking until I've 'almost' obscured another port with planks... then put the jewelers saw back to work, again cutting the remainder of previously cut/planked ports, as well as newly planked ports. I'm almost done, as you can see. I'll cut out the bottom portions of the uppermost port, complete the planking, then rough out the last portion of that uppermost port. I'll then be ready to fine tune these ports prior to lining them with headers, sills, jams, etc.. I'd like to know how you folks go about creating small, perfectly square 'looking' openings... just like the windows in your house? There 'must' be a trick used to accomplish this, "at least I hope there is!" My eyes, hand to eye coordination, and fine manual, hand tool control isn't exactly what it once used to be. Without cheating, I stand a 50/50 shot of manually crafting nice looking ports, by hand alone.


Rough Gun Ports.jpg

Edited by tmj

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If they're square openings I make note of size and location, then cut to "close" by drilling out the center first.  After that, I sand using sanding sticks.  As a check piece, I make a block of wood the size for the ports that's again tapered such that one end is full size and rest isn't.  This tells me when I'm getting close.  I also put reference lines on the hull and the check piece to keep everything square.


Beware though.... on some ships (seems common on French frigates) the first port isn't a gun port but used for handling of the anchor.  It is often a different size then the gun ports.


On some ships, they aren't as the sides are vertical but the top and bottom match the run of the deck.  Same method would work, just a different "insert".


I'm sure others have their own way of doing this but this is what works for me.  As always, your mileage may vary.;)

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Mark, I really like the idea of using a tapered stick for sizing the openings. Great idea! I'm gonna use that idea when I go for the final sizing of the ports! "Thanks for the tip!"

As for now, I just completed the exterior planking and have visually filed the undersized ports to a somewhat square appearance, with no reference at all except for my eyes. There was no need to take the time to try and file these ports as square as possible, as I'll just have to do it all over again when I go for the final sizing. I just did it to test my abilities, my eyes, my hands... and to get a good feel for the 'technique'. I was actually surprised at my 'free-handed' results. Came out better than I was expecting!

My 'Quality Control Inspector'/ 'superviser' saw no issues with the ports, either. She gave the gun ports a quick look-see, then quickly shifted her attention to the internal 'riders' and wanted to know when I'm going to get back to completing 'those'? 


Outer Planking and Dulcie.jpg

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Dulcie, my feline supervisor, built a fire under me and insisted that I get back to the riders, so I did. I'm hoping to find the time to complete two more sets of these riders before I go back to work this coming Thursday. I've been putting them off because I've actually done things 'backwards'. The riders are an 'after-thought' that didn't come to me until after I purchased Longridge's book "The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships." (Tossing the ignorant 'newbie' card here)! I first thought that the kitted model pictures looked GREAT. After a bit of research I discovered how lacking the kitted model actually was!!! Seeing how part of the interior planking was already completed, I had no choice but to make the riders fit around the internal features and also sit 'atop' the internal planking that I had already laid. Not an easy chore, to say the least! Properly done, I should have fabricated the riders 'prior' to planking, and fitted the planks to the riders, but it's now too late to dwell on that mistake. Gotta simply work with what I've got/done. Creating nice, tight fits of all the components, after the fact, is extremely difficult/impossible to pull off in a precise, exacting manner. I'll enter this SNAFU into my beginners notebook as entry #937 of current newbie mistakes to never be repeated! There are some horrible gaps that need filling, already filled bad joints that need further camouflage, etc.. 

All in all, it's all good. "It's a far better thing that I do, today, and learn what 'not' to do', while bashing a kit... than to later do such things and effectively 'trash' an otherwise good build!" 

If I'm not mistaken, Charles Dickens once put that famous quote to pen and paper while he was hopelessly lost between two cities... maybe not! 🤥 


One Pair of Riders Complete.jpg

Edited by tmj

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