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Swift 1805 by Tim Holt - Artesania Latina - 1:50

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Posted (edited)

Like many, I had an old kit sitting around for years (this one from early/mid 80's) and finally got to it.  It's one of 4 models I have, two I bought to build "some day", and two more my father bought but passed on to me when he realized he was running out of "some days" as it were.


I didn't start recording all the steps so this is going to soon jump right into the thick of it with some pictures of things I finished up in the last month.  I'm also going to artificially break down some of the steps into separate posts just so there's a bit more of a focused subject for each one.

Before showing what I started recording with photos, I thought I'd share some of the steps I did "off camera" and what I learned, plus what I used as motivation and learning.


First, the plywood bulwarks were a real pain to get right.  I quite like the approach that the OcCre kits take, where there is a notch in the bulwarks that fits into a protruding part on the deck plywood so they go just where they should.   If I'd seen this before I assembled mine, I'd have been tempted to modify them to use that technique.


Second, rather than plank the first layer around the very bow and stern, I built them up with balsa infill.  I left the infill proud of the frames such that they had the same surface as the main hull first layer of planks.  I got this trick from the YouTube builder Harry Houdini Models.  See this video starting about 2:30 for the technique.


Third, I quite liked the planking approach that OcCre uses on their models, where they place full width planks without tapers, then fill in with wedges.   Their Endurance YouTube series shows it well I think, plus it's got the most pleasing music I've ever heard on any build video!  Here's their starting video for planking.


Next post will be a fast-forward to the close to finished hull.

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Posted (edited)

Fast forwards to the hull planking completed.  Here are some pictures of how it looks now...








I went with a white painted hull, though the second layer of planking wasn't too bad  and would have looked OK with just varnish. 


For paint, I used FolkArt brand 2939CA Vintage White satin acrylic paint, hand brushed.   For the fenders, I used MinWax Jacobean 2750 stain, as I quite like the black rail look but prefer the dark stained wood to actual black paint.  I then finished everything off with a clear satin varnish (DecoArt DuraClear Satin).


Oh yes and in that first picture, you can see "little red ship guy", a small scale figure I 3D printed.  He's kind of handy to get a sense of just what the size of things are, and I'm specifically looking forwards to using him as a reference for waist height when placing the tiller.



I'm still running those OcCre Endeavor build videos in the background - that music is just so calming...


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Posted (edited)

Another fast forward, this time for the deck planking.  I cut individual 70mm strips of planking, and used the typical technique of darkening the edges and making small dark points for nails.  I used a black coloring pencil for the edges which was much darker than a pencil.  It had a tendency to smear a bit, but I kind of like how it dirties up the deck a bit.  For the nails, I just used the tip of a mechanical pencil lead. I then scraped the whole surface down smooth with a razor blade before I glued the bulwarks on.




I also took a stab at joggling the deck planks, and rather like the look.  Not always the tightest joint, but I like the look.


Oh you can also see a first course of paint on the inner bulwarks.  I decided to not apply planks to them, and just went with a straight white look.   And that dark splotch was a little stain test on a place where some deck furniture will go.  Too dark for me and I lose a lot of plank seam details.


Next up I setup a jig to bend the deck stringers.  Here's a few pictures of the setup I built using some dowel sections, as well as the outside waste material from the original plywood sub-deck as a pattern.






In the end the stringers still snapped on me in the tight curve section, but that's just an opportunity for a scarf joint if you ask me.


While the deck stringers were cooling and drying, I did some finish samples for the deck on a scrap of plywood.  For each I applied them, let them dry, then covered with a few layers of satin varnish.




Top row L to R: MinWax English Oak, MinWax Special Walnut, MinWax Gel Honey Maple

Bottom row L to R: Watco Natural, Beeswax, Howard natural refinishing oil.


In the end, the MinWax English Oak won.  Here it is with the newly bent stringers in place...






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Posted (edited)

Another fast forward, this time for deck layout.   The Swift kit has two cabins, fore and aft.  I don't much like how heavy the kit ones look, and didn't really like the look with two.  So I decided to replace the forward one with a deck hatch cover, not unlike how the OcCre Polaris looks.


I like the look a lot more where the deck structures are not on top of the deck planks, but the deck planks butt directly into the coaming.   And one note - it's a LOT easier to lay the deck coaming and other such things down onto the sub-plywood first, THEN apply the planks.  Live and learn.


I started by using a sharp knife and straight edge to cut out the bounds of the front hatch. 




Then I started making some 1/8" x 1/8" coaming with little lap joints. 




To illustrate how I made the lap joints, here's a few step-by-step pictures of one.


First, score where the cut will be...




Then use a sharp knife to pre-cut just a bit of a notch.   Then you can use that notch as a guide for a fine toothed saw.  The notch gives you both a clean edge, and good saw blade alignment.




Then I cut down the part to be removed with a knife.  You have to be super careful with non-straight grain wood like walnut, as it won't just split off a nice flat section.




Lastly use a small square file to clean up the joint.



Here's a dry fit of the pieces in place.




Now about this time, little red scale ship guy showed up and took one look at that tiny coaming and said, "That's not going to do much if the deck is awash - it has to be taller!"  So the whole thing got reworked with 1/4" x 1/4" walnut, much to his satisfaction.




I ended up hand cutting all the joints and rabbet.  I'm starting to see the allure of those tiny table saws.  Here are two closeups of the corner joints with the rabbet...






Lastly, here's the whole thing with a thin piece of inset plywood that will be the gluing surface for planks covering the hatch.




This now brings me up to the present time.  Next post in a few days ought to be that hatch finished up.

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Posted (edited)

Bunch of random things this weekend.  Bulwarks, masts, transom supports, hatch cover, plus some 3D printing and laser cutting of parts.


Let's start with making the top rail for the bulwarks.  I have a bunch of odd and interesting instrument wood from my father, who used to make instruments.  I decided to make the top rail out of some interesting dark wood I have as it's already cut thin for instrument sides. 


Rather than use the plan for the curvature, I actually traced the edges of the plywood bulwarks with a pencil, then used a knife to cut them out.  Here's a shot where you can see the pencil trace. By the way, that little sanding block is something I 3D printed based on a pattern from Thingiverse.  It's the same width as sanding strip spools, so it's easy to just tear off 4 inches or so of whatever grit I want and put it on.




I'm not quite sure what the wood is.  It's not mahogany or walnut.  It shows some grain, but seems fairly dense.  It sands down to a fine sawdust not unlike mahogany, but doesn't have that smell (nor of walnut).  I used the same approach to cut two pieces (port & starboard) for the front as well.




I cut a basic scarf joint to join the main rail sections to the front section.   I put that on the shelf to dry, and didn't get back to it, as I needed to add bulwark stanchions first.




I ended up making a tiny square out of a bit of plywood to mark lines, then glued them on with wood glue...






Continuing to jump around a bit, I next decided to make some new stern transom supports.  The original stamped out ones were pretty thin, and not very cleanly cut.  Also, they didn't quite fit the way the transom came out as I planked it first, then went to add the supports.  Lesson learned that I should put the supports in first, then add the planks.

To make a good fit, I started out by measuring and making a first pass 3D model of what they should be shaped like.  I did the stern belaying pin rack while I was at it, as it also needed to be a bit wider.  Here's a photo of the parts (two sizes of supports) in Tinkercad, a free web-based CAD program I use.




Once I had the model made, I did a quick 3D printing of the pieces for test fitting.








Once I had a good shape that fit well, next step was to export the top view of the CAD files as SVG files, which I could use in a laser cutter available at work.  Using another piece of instrument wood, I chose a thin piece of mahogany for the parts.  The laser cutter (Glowforge) did a fairly good job, however the 3mm thick mahogany I used didn't cut that well.  It burned easily, and it took a number of passes at a lower power, followed by a lot of cleanup of the char to get them cut all the way through.


While I was at work to use the laser cutter, I thought I'd also drill the mast holes.  We have a big Bridgeport mill in the shop (2 of them actually), so I was able to clamp down the model via the keel, at the right angle.   Here are a few pictures of the setup, including the first where after taking the picture I had a brief "oh crap" moment.  I didn't drill the angle wrong, but I'm guessing others have done it :)








Here's a picture of how I got the angle right.  That's a single parallel that's a bit narrower than the keel, and then a 3D printed angle piece I made that's the right angle for the masts.




And here are the masts in place as a dry fit.  And a sneak peek at two more things to come...


1666173508_masthole5.png.7a92d85c7a638a0a2a95a8a9043d8f5e.pngAnd here


Once home I put the transom supports in place (dry fit here).  The original model only has the two inner ones, but I made a second set for the outside as well.  It just looks better IMO.  Still not sure if I'll use them or not.




Another thing I did while there is cut some of the same mahogany to make a deck hatch cover.  Here's the result, with two in-between strips of a different kind of wood.   The mahogany isn't actually cut, but is 3 solid pieces with laser cut scores (about .25mm deep) for the board separations.  It's really quite a nice look, as the char gives that nice black caulking look.




Here's one other 3D printing thing I did to help with the masts when I do set them.  I made a little correctly angled jig with the mast diameter (8mm) cut out along one side.  I can then clamp the jig to the mast and keep it nice and straight and aligned if I need to hold it steady.





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In the previous comment, I mentioned using some mystery wood from my father's old instrument making days.  I've got quite a bit of interesting wood from this, including pieces of mahogany, ebony, maple, and actually quite a bit of Alaskan Yellow Cedar (8" x 10" x 10' single piece), plus a lot of Port Orford Cedar.

At some point I'd like to mill up some of the AYC with an eye towards using it for a model some day, but not until I a) work on some basic skills, and b) have a really clear project for it.

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Posted (edited)

Update for the last few days.


First up, I redid that hatch coaming I'd done before.  My joints were rather gaping and so I rebuilt with lapped and stacked 1/8" square mahogany.


Gluing up...



Then on the deck...



Just a dry fit right now, and it needs a bit of chamfering and such to finish it up.  You can also see the coaming base in place for the rear cabin.  Probably going to just frame and build one up from smaller square stock for corner post, then planking for siding.


I also got the top rail on as you can see.  All stained with Minwax Jacobean (really dark) and glued on with CA.


What I won't show you is how the very front of the top rail doesn't exactly line up with the keel - an issue I didn't see until after I took some pictures.  Probably have to saw it off and make a new one with the right fit.  It's kind of nice to have a "make the mistakes and learn" model to start with.

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Posted (edited)

Tonight's post is about building the little aft companionway.


Continuing the spirit of using this model as a bit of an experiment, I tried out a new approach to building it.  I didn't much want to just glue together the ill-fitting pieces of plywood and cover them with thin strips.  I wanted something a bit more "real" looking that had a sense of how it was actually framed or constructed.


Originally, I tried actually building a frame for the main structure using 1/8" square stock, but found it very hard to both ensure everything was correctly aligned, but also make sure the whole structure was solid and strong.


I started thinking of making a jig of sorts to help me align the corner posts and curved ceiling rafters, but then it dawned on me I could just 3D print a jig, and literally glue everything to it, and keep it on the inside.   So I came up with this design (here in TinkerCAD) that I 3D printed in PLA on my Ender 3 Pro.




It has the basic interior dimensions of the cabin, with a notch on each corner where vertical posts go.  The notches are smaller than the actual stock used for the posts so that they would stay proud.   Running side to side on the top, there are also notches where I can put down bent pieces of 1/8" stock to defined curved roof rafters.  Then on the right side is the opening for the doorway.  


Here are some pictures of the construction, where I first glued the corner posts the 3D printed part (in black), the horizontal siding, companionway entrance framing, and curved roof rafters.   The last picture of the 3 shows the bottom, and how the 3D printed framework is holding it all together.








In the end I just sanded the posts down flush with the siding, which worked out a lot better for the next step, which was adding crown moulding for under the edge of the roof.  See this post on how I made it.  Then I glued thin narrow strips meant for the original construction to the roof, using the curved rafters as gluing points.  This is where I found out I should have had 2-3 more rafters to have more gluing points. 






Then the tracks for the sliding hatch, and a hatch door.   You can also see here that I scribed and marked the roof board joints with pencil, which made it look less like a large sheet of mahogany plywood for a roof.




Finally a little strip across the back to keep the hatch from sliding off the tracks, and a little door (that still needs handles).  Then some fine sanding and a few coats of satin varnish with sanding between.  In both these pictures I've just got it setting on the coaming frame - not glued down yet.






Oof, that gap under the door...




You might notice here I took the previously pictured caprail off.  I didn't like the way it fit, and am going to reattach it at some point.


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Posted (edited)

I've done a bit of this and that the last week, mostly focusing on finishing some of the deck furniture, the caprail, a hole for the rudder, tapering the masts and bowsprit, plus working out a new arrangement for how the bowsprit is mounted.


First, I fixed up and reattached the caprail, which helps bring it together well.  Next, I finished up the aft small deck house / companionway as well as the forward hatch cover.  The original kit had a second forward deck house / companionway as well, but it seemed a bit odd having two, so it became a hatch. 

Finishing these came down to putting some little metal fixtures on them such as the lift eyes eyes, as well as the small vent stack. 




I did have the original cheap metal cast stack from the kit, but in the last 40 years it disintegrated and was crumbling.  So what I did was build a new one using 1/8" brass tubing.  For the bend, I made a series of thin slices almost 3/4 the way through along the bend area, then bent it such that the saw cut kerfs closed and left a nice curve.  Then I used solder to fill in the gaps, and cleaned it all up with a file.  Here's a quick sketch showing the concept...


Then I made a small ring of brass wire, and hammered it flat into a disk for the base, then soldered it on as well.  To make it black, I just coloring it with a black marker then applied some matte varnish.  I've got some Birchwood Casey Brass Black on order, but figured this would work - plus be better on the soldered areas.


Next up the tapering the masts and bowsprit.  I had two 8mm dowels to be tapered from 8 down to 4mm for the masts, plus the bowsprit to taper from 6mm to 3mm.  I did the tapering by mounting the dowels in my drill press, using a small 608 bearing as a pivot to steady the longer masts.  Here's the basic setup, as well as how the shorter bowsprit was just mounted as-is with no end steady.  Tapering was done with a hand file as well as 80 grit sandpaper for the initial smoothing.







I also worked out a mount for the bowsprit, but I'm going to put that into a separate post to not let this one get too long.

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Posted (edited)

OK part two. 

So that bowsprit.  The way the model had it mounted just didn't seem right.  Here's how it's presented in the plans.




Basically that bitt was supposed to hold it in place, yet a) there was no actual hardware holding it in place vertically, and b) the vertical posts of the bit were a LOT farther apart than the width of the bowsprit.  So it really wasn't obvious how it would actually be held in place.


What I ended up doing is not tapering the last 3 or so centimeters of the bowsprit from bow to bitt, and also squared off the non-tapered part.  To square it off, I first made one face flat with a file, then chucked it in my vice with that first flat face on one jaw.  That gave me a new round side now at 90 degrees to the first flat, and flatted it.  Then rotate again and so forth.  Here's a sketch of how this works out, with the gray areas being the parts removed.  It assumes that the vice jaws are pretty good and parallel.



And here's the final state still in the vice.




Then I glued 1/32" mahogany to the newly flattened sides, and cleaned it all up to create a now squared off bowsprit.  Here's how that looks, along with the bowsprit bitt as it came with the kit.  You can see how wide apart the posts are, and how it's not got a chance to really hold that bowsprit in place.




Fortunately I was able to just cut a new notch in the crosspiece for one of the posts and trim the cross piece,  making it match the now squared up bowsprit.




Putting it all together as a dry fit, here's what I have now.  Seems like it makes a lot more sense to hold that bowsprit this way.






One bonus is that the now squared off bowsprit fits nicely between the two plywood bulwark sections, which weren't long enough to reach the very front of the model, so no place to drill a round hole for the bowsprit as the original plans had me do.



I’ll add a gammon strap across the top later.  

Next up is adding the rudder and tiller. I’ve got the gudgeons and pintles made, but waiting on the brass black to show up for those. 

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Posted (edited)

Been experimenting a bit the last few weeks with pintles, gudgeons, laser cutting, rudders, and tillers.  Also delving into blackening various brass parts with Birchwood Casey Brass Black.


Rudder and Tiller #1

First, building the rudder.  The kit's rudder is just a single piece of wood, which I didn't shape much beyond putting a bigger bevel on forward edge, plus trimming the length to not stick up too high into the stern.

I also spent some time carving down the tiller that came with the kit (a massive beast) into something that a person's hands could perhaps actually grip.  I used this design from Davis's The Built-Up Ship Model.  Dimensions are a bit shorter so it wouldn't extend the full 9 feet, else the poor tillerman would have no place to stand to actually operate it.  The tiller is then mortised into the rudder.




Pintles and Gudgeons

I actually made these several times before I got a set I liked.  I ended up using some thin 30g copper sheet, then small bits of brass tubing and rod.  I followed the "Making the RUDDER - RAGUSIAN CARRACK" video from Olha Bathvarov on YouTube for reference and encouragement.


I also used small brass pins that I cut down then ground the heads smaller.  Then treated all with Birchwood Casey Brass Black.







Ground down brass screw for small strap pin


Rudder and Tiller #2

With everything made, it was time to put it all together.  Here is the final result.  She's starting to look like a real ship now!








Oh yes in that picture you can see a little barrel resting on the deck.  This was one of the Syren Ship Model Company's QUICK barrels, which I got in the mail, along with some nice blocks.


Laser Cutting

Having access to a Glowforge lasercutter and a good collection of thin hard maple (unused violin sides), I decided to try making some belaying cleats to replace the oversized ones that came with the kit.  I used a small round file and fine (220 and 320) sandpaper to clean up the results.  Here are some pictures of the sequence - from raw cut, initial cleaning, and final cleaning.






Once I had some good sizes and a pattern worked out, I went ahead and cut a bunch of them with some varying sizes for future use.




Tool Notes

I ended up getting a new Proxxon Micromot and some fine drill bits last week.  I have to say I love that tool - it's helped me a bit with precision and is a lot easier to use for drilling small holes.




I also wanted to share a picture of my soldering setup.  I'm using a TS100 style soldering iron, which seems pretty popular now days.  I use it a lot for electronics projects, but also for my brass and copper soldering.   Here's a picture of my setup, and as you can see it's quite small (pencil for reference).  I actually use an 18v cordless drill battery to run it, with a home-made box on top with a power switch, holder, and meter showing battery voltage.  It heats up very fast, and puts itself to sleep if not moved for a while.  You can see the little readout on it showing the temperature.




Next Up

I'm currently reading a lot about rigging, as before I start attaching various rings, cleats and bitts to the deck, I want to get a better sense of how the rigging really should be.  I'm pretty sure the as-instructed rigging of the kit is lacking a lot in accuracy and detail, and want to put some time into thinking/rethinking the rigging to be more accurate.  @Dr PR's  Topsail schooner sail plans and rigging thread has been a good read, and I have a copy of Chapelle's The Search for Speed Under Sail and The Baltimore Clipper: It's Origin and Development on the way via AbeBooks for more reference.


Ah yes and some Gutterman Mara 70 and 100 on the way from WAWAK - this rope making thing seems intriguing...


Edited by Tim Holt
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Tim, I am loving your adaptation of the Swift. Your modifications are making me wish I hadn't built the Swift yet, so I could use your ideas. My version is the newer one, with lower deck areas for storage. I discovered at the "hoisting the sails" stage that the premade sails were too big, out of scale with the masts and booms. Unless the sailors crawl on their bellies, they'll get battered by the sails every time the wind changes. If I had known, I would have made the masts an inch or so taller, or had (*asked very nicely*) the resident admiral remake the sails a bit smaller. Just a heads up for you.


I'm looking forward to watching the rest of your build!

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12 minutes ago, Freezing Parrot said:



I'm looking forward to watching the rest of your build!


Thanks Mike.  I'm definitely making some mistakes along the way, and it's definitely a learning experience.  I'm willing to experiment with this one too since it's pretty basic.


I didn't go into it, but I had to patch and fill some spots on the rudder where my first attempt at pintles & gudgeons were (oops wrong spot).  And you don't want to see how the rudder hole in fantail looks, as it's off center from the stern frames.  This is basically because I didn't glue the plywood bulwarks on evenly in the back.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

I've not posted much the last few weeks, as I've been looking at how to change this model from the stock design of the kit to something more accurate.  I already knew the deck layout and rigging were suspect.  That's gotten me down the fun rabbit hole of research and buying books.


To start, I picked up Chappelle's The Search for Speed Under Sail" as well as "The Baltimore Clipper".  The first book has a plate (#37) that represents Steel's Virigina Pilot Boat, often referenced as the source of the AL "Swift 1805" kit concept.  Indeed they are fairly close.


The "Virginia Pilot Boat"

First, here's a picture from the book of Chappelle's interpretation of Steel's "Virigina Pilot Boat", with a bit of layout editing by me...




AL Swift 1805 compared with "Virginia Pilot Boat"

Here's a scan of some of the AL Swift kit plans roughly re-scaled and aligned to overlap with the above illustration.  A very rough side view of the Swift is overlaid, and the deck view mirrored below.




You can see that indeed they are pretty similar, including in size, though clearly the deck layout of Chappelle's version of Steel's drawing is quite different on the deck layout.  A few differences in the original that stand out include...

  • Aft cabin area doesn't appear to be a raised structure off the deck
  • Aft cabin area is further back, with the companionway entrance where the "sunken poop" starts
  • Aft cabin area includes a small hatch (or flat skylight?)
  • No stack in aft cabin area
  • Two pumps aft the main mast, compared to 1 forward the main mast in kit
  • Bulwarks are much higher on the model
  • No forward cabin, but instead a smaller square hatch as well as a smaller forward vent and stack
  • Bowsprit lays flush to the deck, which fits the idea of it being through-bolted / strapped to the deck and deck beam
  • Not clear in the picture above, but the original's bowsprit is a bit longer



The "Nimble" of similar size and layout

Another illustration Chappelle's Speed book has is the "Nimble", also of very similar size and layout.




A few differences (and similarities) with the AL Swift 1805 model include...

  • Aft cabin is similar, being raised and having a stack
  • Addition of a hatch in aft cabin
  • Bitts now just aft the foremast
  • Simplified forward chimney, losing the additional small hatch/vent that the Virginia Pilot Boat has
  • Rudder is vertical



The smaller "Swift", which shares a name and a few other details

Lastly, Chappelle's "Speed" book does include a small "Norfolk Pilot Boat" named Swift.  

  • 637404928_chappelleswift.thumb.png.f82347b41e1d6da678a32cd2df827fe7.png

It's smaller (by about 10 feet) but bears a few similarities to the AL kit, including...

  • Raised aft cabin with no hatch and small stack (close match to the AL kit style)
  • Angled rudder, though it does not come through the deck



Some conclusions / observations

It indeed seems that the AL kit has started with Steel's Virigina Pilot boat, but took a few ideas (like name and aft cabin) from the "Swift" also in Chappelle's book.  But then the kit took a few big turns like duplicating the aft cabin forwards, while eliminating the forward hatches and stack.   Additionally, the kit added bulwarks, and raised the bowsprit off the deck - which of course leads to an unrealistic bowsprit mounting approach in the kit.


Going forward with the build

Based on that, here are the changes I'm going to do on the kit...

  • Keep the aft hatch design (as I built it) as is, but move it aft to be as close as possible to the edge of the "sunken poop"
  • Two pumps instead of 1, placed as per the "Virginia Pilot Boat" and "Nimble" plans
  • Keep the bulwarks
  • Keep the off-deck bowsprit but build some kind of heel mount for it
  • Remove the forward duplicate cabin and replace with hatch, etc.
    • I already had decided to do this, but now will reduce the size of the hatch I made to a smaller square design
    • Add forward chimney and bitt per the "Nimble" plans - just because I like the look of the bitt



Future research

Rigging for sure is to follow.  I'm working slowly on a plan for both rope size, as well as appropriate use of blocks and hearts.  This will also help me determine where to put cleats and eyes on the deck.  


One useful reference I've found here is @Dr PR's thread on Topsail schooner sail plans and rigging.  The kit isn't a topsail but I've found the wealth of illustrations and notes useful.



Perhaps the one thing I'm still working on is what kind of rigging should be on the bowsprit - specifically whether to add a bobstay and shrouds - the kit has neither, but I imagine they should be there to help manage rigging tension on the bowsprit.


Edited by Tim Holt
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2 hours ago, Freezing Parrot said:

My hat is off to your research skills, good sir! I like your approach to combining actual historic details in a balanced way. I can't wait to see how this turns out!

Back at you Freezing Parrot.  I saw your  post about below deck design earlier and it prompted me to post what I’d been reading up on. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

A bit of deck furniture completed yesterday and today.  Per a previous post I’m modifying the deck layout quite a bit from the kit’s crude made up layout. 

Here’s a picture of the new forward bitt (just aft the foremast), chimney, and new grated hatch…



The hatch as well as heels for the bit are laser cut as I have access to a cutter via work.  


I tried a few techniques for the grate, including separately cut pieces, but the thin stock I have isn’t very precise for thickness so it was harder to make the notches work well.  So instead I went with the single top cut and etched technique Vanguard Models uses.  One cut, no assembly, and precisely square.  Here’s a picture of the cutting experiments, as well as a previous hatch I’d made with individual grating strips…



Here is one of the grating sheets cut out, before any sanding.  The laser char in the holes actually gives a blackout effect that’s not bad if there’s nothing to see below.  



As anyone who works with laser cut stuff knows, the char is a challenge at times. I found when sanding the gratings I’d pick up char on the sandpaper, which would then get embedded into the uncut wood, which darkened and dirtied it.  As an experiment I coated the top and inside the cut out square holes with varnish, which did seem to keep the char from dirtying up when sanding the grating top. 

I had to experiment a bit with different laser cutter settings to get just the right amount to cut while minimizing char as much as i could.  The completed grate on the piece of maple was one that didn’t cut all the way through so wouldn’t come out.   The maple by the way was originally destined for a violin side so has a bit of character. 

I’ve mentioned it before but this kit is a learning experience and experiment at the same time.  I’m playing with styles, designs, techniques, etc.  As an example,  I’m on my fourth hatch now, with a different approach to each as pictured below…


Left to right: a rather huge (but not bad) one, second try at making the grating fit the frame (fit the frame to the grating!), next with laser notch cut grating strips again (frame fit to grating), and finally the last done with a single laser cut and etched grating. 


Edited by Tim Holt
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