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Bulwarks: ply vs solid wood

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I am building the Syren and am not really happy with the plywood used for the bulkheads.  I thought I had read that plywood was preferred for some reason but cannot recall if that is accurate.

Thus my question, what wood is best for the frame and bulkheads?

Thank You,


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Both very good answers.


A disadvantage is that it tends to be difficult to bend.  Soaking and steaming for bending causes the layers to de-laminate unless you are using outdoor grade plywood..


I have used basswood to make bulkheads by using thin pieces and laminating them together using a mold I built from scrap wood to achieve the desired curve.

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    I am not sure if price/cost is an issue.  I can get either modeling plywood (1/8") or basswood for reasonable price at Michael's.  The warping and strength, however are my major issues.  I use (usually 1/8") modeling birch plywood for my bulkheads (frames versus walls) and have had no problems with delaminating. 


    Strength is a particular issue when dealing with the thin upright stantions for the bulwarks, such as on SYREN,  I never sand my stantions down to the desired width until the outer planking is in place, but even still there are breakage issues with basswood (see '18th Centrury Longboat breakaway stem piece').

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A disadvantage is that it tends to be difficult to bend. 


I think bending won't be needed when you're making bulkheads, in fact, that's exactly what you're trying to avoid when it comes to bulkheads.... we want them to be stiff and durable so that they are not deformed or damaged during planking, hence retaining the lines of the ship.

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Sorry, my answer was completely out of line.  You are asking about bulkheads and I'm thinking bulwarks. DUH!


Indeed, you do want to use plywood for the bulkheads as was said because there is less chance of warping and because of multi-grain direction the plywood is much stronger.


Most of the kits I have built used plywood for the middle part of the bulwarks and it was necessary to bend them to follow the contour of the ship. That is the basis for my incorrect answer.


I'm getting close to where I will soon be able to hide my own Easter eggs.

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  • 1 month later...

One problem I see with plywood bulheads is tumblehome, on a lot of older ships anyway, the the bulwarks curved inward slightly, more so towards the stern...at least on the hull I'm trying to figure out! At 1/96th (1/8th =1ft.) scale I'm planning to use 1mm or 1.5 and am hoping it'll handle a curve in two directions, always fun! Any thoughts? It would probably be better to use individual stanchions, but at this scale they're rather small sections.


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The problem with this thread from the outset is that the title says "Bulwarks" yet the discussion seems to be about "bulkheads".


2 entirely different issues as I see it.  


Most Bulwarks do indeed bend to follow the shape of the deck in my experience.  Therefore, whatever material is used needs to be able to bent.


The opposite is true for bulkheads.  You usually do not want that material bending, meaning plywood is a very good choice.

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