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HMS Bellerophon 1786 by AON – scale 1:64 – 74 gun 3rd Rate Man of War, Arrogant Class

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My eyes are exhausted.


My brain is sore.


My fingers are numb.


I was fortunate to acquire 108 back issues (2000-2017) of Ships in Scale and 145 back issues (1951-1997) of Nautical Research Guild magazines at our last club meeting.

I already had the 2014 to present issues of NRG but went through those again as I couldn't recall what articles were in them that I might need down the road.

I've just moments ago completed reviewing them all, scanned the articles that captured my interest, or that I thought were going to be handy with my build later on.

I created Excel indexes for these ( plus the 1935-1939 issues of Marine Modeller and 1972-2008 issues of Model Shipwright) so they can be searched and recalled quickly.


I am certain I will wake up tomorrow and not remember a thing I just learned.


This magazines will now be gifted to another in our club.


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Yes they were in the boxes but were not really any help as I didn't really appreciate the importance of some nor of information contained in other articles until I looked at them and so may not have seen three quarters of what I should have. You have to remember I am a babe in the woods... or seaweed.  I flipped and looked at each page and read quite a few great articles and tips.  Funny how I kept seeing the same author names repeated over and over again.


Presently looking at how to make a block to hold two razor blades to slice my bamboo skewer rounded edges off to get a nice straight small square length to pass through the draw plate to make some treenails.  The skewer is about 0.121 inch (3mm) diameter and the largest hole in the drawplate is #59 (0.059 inch = 1.5mm diameter).

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The easiest way to manage bamboo is to take a sharp blade and split the bamboo in half. Halve each piece again repeatedly, until the lengths are small enough to feed into your drawplate. Discard any softer pieces: they will break as you draw them. If necessary, slightly sharpen the end to begin to feed it. Parallel pliers are best for drawing: they will not crush the fibers like a regular pliers.

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Of course you are right Druxey, but I cannot split them straight!  They wander to one side.  Must be my wonky eye!


I read that the round outsides of the skewer needs to be cut off to leave a square to draw through the plate.  Taper the lead end to feed.

So I thought two razors each mounted at 5° cutting relief angle opposite to each other would allow one pass followed by one quarter rotation to pass again giving me a square and eliminating the rounded outside bits.

This seems like a lot of waste. I played with modelling and it is do-able... on paper.


If I made a block with a small guide lead in hole sized for the bamboo skewer diameter, with a single razor blade on centre about 1" in the tunnel, and a larger discharge hole for the split pieces to come out I might have better success.  I can then put the two halves back together and turn it 90° to pass it through again and quarter it.

Theoretically this will leave me with four pieces that I can get 0.04" (1mm) diameter pieces from.  At 1:64 this is 2-1/2" (63.5mm).


If this works I could possibly have a smaller lead hole below the first to pass the quarter piece through to split it in two allowing a 0.028" (0.7mm) diameter piece.  At 1:64 this is 1-3/4" (44mm). 


If this works, making straight quick cuts, it would reduce my scrap and the number of draws to get it down to size.


I'll see if I can put something together this week.


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OK Alan and Druxey.  I'm curious what a draw plate is used for?  Is it to simulate nails?  Are there any other uses? And Druxey, what are parallel pliers?

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A drawplate is used to make round dowels at certain sizes, you "draw" a squarish piece of wood through a hole in the metal plate. At least that is what the drawplates used on MSW are applied for in general

Parallel pliers are pliers of which the beak is bent. When you open the beak, the distance between the tip of the beak up to the curvature, will be equal over that length, instead of getting smaller over it's entire length nearing the swivel point. The advantage is you get equal grip on that part of the plier

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Hi Alan. You could look at the Lie Nelson inlay tools. They have a tool that is used to reduce wood  and make it square like what your talking about. Plan on getting one, to help reduce the number of times you have to pull them through the draw plate like your talking about. Gary

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I spent a few hours this afternoon making a bamboo skewer slicer.

There are eight parts:

   1 - The front block with three holes at 0.14", 0.09" and 0.06" diameter, there is a bevelled lead in to help guide the skewer.

                       (Skewers seem to be 0.125" max diameter)

   2 and 3 - the screws to fasten it to the back blocks

   4 and 5 - the back block halves of which one has a pocket for the razor cutter

   6 - the razor cutter blade

   7 and 8 - the screws to fasten the back halves together.

Photos below will explain the assembly.


It splits the skewers like a charm.... just needs a tiny adjustment on the upper hole to centre the cutting blade better.


But that is for another day... MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone.



1 - all components.jpg2 - razor placed in recessed pocket.jpg

3 - exit halves stacked.jpg4 - exit halves screwed together.jpg

5 - entry side.jpg6 - exit side.jpg

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Sorry Derek, I do not understand your comment.

Would you please explain and help me to understand.

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Sorry Alan, just my stupid humour.  Pandas eat bamboo etc etc etc.  Wow, I just read my post and really have to apologize. The problem with writing posts is it doesn't show emotion, like how I was smiling when I wrote it.  I honestly hope I didn't offend you.  If so, I truly apologize.

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I honestly didn't understand.  I couldn't possibly have been offended.  Now that you explained it to the slow guy, I find it very funny.  😃


If you ever did offend me ....I know where you live 😈

(meant to be funny)


For everyone else... Derek and I are practically neighbours.  Just a small community college campus "of applied dreams" comes between us.

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So stuff has happened that has kept me distracted from the ship build.  Family, Christmas, New Years, meals, drinks, sleeping in.


I modified my bamboo skewer slicer (version 2.0).


I refitted/reworked the pockets for holding the razor in the rear block halves, then I took the face block, cut off the the top with the existing guide holes, flipped the bottom half to become the new top half, then marked off and drilled new holes.  It splits better now and I have made up some treenails at  0.033" (0.84mm) and 0.029" (0.74mm) which is 2-1/8" and 1-7/8" diameter at 1:64.  I will  be using the larger diameter treenails to pin the feet of the frames of the lower futtocks to the keel and deadwood.


It works better than a razor clamped in a vise... safer too, particularly as I am prone to accidents.

Try as I might, I cannot tack the bamboo skewer to slice through the razor very well.  It always wanders off to one side or the other.


1 - slicer 2.0 feed face.jpg

2 - slicer 2.0 discharge face.jpg

3 - sizing through draw plate.jpg

4 - bare razor with bamboo wandering off.jpg

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I have also started installing my spacer chocks between the frames to stiffen it up before fairing.  This work is quite boring.  So to spice things up a bit I attempted to make the rudder yesterday.  I am also waiting on delivery of some stainless steel #6-32 thread inserts for my mounting threaded rods.  I hope they will be in and ready to pick up on Monday.


The photos below show the work stages for my first attempt at this style rudder assembly.

Rough cutting.  Finish sizing, shaping and fitting the tabling, sanding the taper, adding the sole piece and then the backing piece.


I did not bother to finish it off (cut the chatter groove into the backing piece, cut the two 12" sq. tiller holes, or shape the leading edge corners - pintle side) - so it can rotate against the stern post) because I made one huge misteak... the head of the rudder is dimensionally too narrow.


It was a good first try!  Always time to do it again.


1 - rough cut.jpg

2 - rough fitted.jpg

3 - fitted and glued.jpg

4 - roughly sized sole + backing pieces.jpg

5 - backing piece glued and clamped.jpg

6 - sole piece glued and clamped.jpg

7 - sole + backing pieces done.jpg

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It seems my supplier may not have put my order in for my #6-32 stainless steel helicoil thread inserts as they are not in and they have no record of the order being placed just before the holiday shut down.  So possibly they might be in by early next week?


I took another shot at making the rudder and although it looks much better, I believe the third time will be the charm (practise makes perfect).  I decided to drill a hole to create the relief radius in the upper rear ornate shaping.  I should have possibly chosen a smaller diameter drill.


I was quite impressed with my first attempt at tabling (stepped cut and fitting of the two main pieces) and my second attempt was that much better.  The backing and sole plates were glued on prior to sanding down the tapered width this time.  This seemed to work better.


I cut the chatter groove in the backing plate without any real direction or description.  Where does it start and stop?  What is the width and depth?  With what I know about fluid dynamics, and realising the plates are 6 inches thick, I assumed 3 inch depth and 1/3rd the width would seem realistic.  I did not get it cut as straight and clean as I had hoped to, but the practise and process is tried.  I will practise on a piece of scrap to get a clean crisp cut for next time.


The two square holes at the head for the main and spare tillers were drilled out and the corners were filed to shape.  I decided to use one size though the piece where as in reality it was 12 inches square forward and tapered smaller to a square hole 1/3rd the width and height of the width of the rudder at that location.  My next and final attempt will be properly sized even though no one will likely see it.


While shaping the taper at the pintle cutout side corners I slipped and took a little extra off in one spot that no one will likely see ... but I know it is there and it bugs me.


So I will do it once again.  I've got the process figured out and the practise in. 

1 - drilling relief hole for the radius.jpg

2 - tabling and backing + sole plates glued up.jpg

3 - tapered + drilling for bolts.jpg

4 - installing faux bolts in the backing plate.jpg

5 - installing faux bolts in the sole plate.jpg

6 - finished.jpg

7 - finished.jpg

8 - finished.jpg

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Thank you Mike and Derek (and everyone else), but if you saw it up close in real life...


I just completed my 3rd and last version of the rudder, and will take it to our club meeting this afternoon.

I chose two slightly contrasting colours of costello to try to bring out the tabling a bit more clearly.


Also, I visited a club member last week and had a tutorial on making treenails.  His hands on method made minced meat of my block.  But then again he has been at it for ages.

I will be posting more later.

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So here are some photos of my last and final rudder. 

Major differences are:

1) the chatter groove is cleaner

2) the tiller holes are tapered at 12" square opening inboard; smaller square hole outboard measuring 1/3rd the width of the rudder head.

3) the table joint was made in two different shades of Castello to try  to make the joint more visible

After comments at our local club meeting yesterday I will be softening the rudder corners/edges some more with a fine grade sand paper, and squaring the tiller holes a bit cleaner with a micro chisel.  Files can only do so much to a make a round hole square... and I am certain talent plays a bigger part than the file.



Regarding my tutorial in making treenails last week... 


I was shown to hold the skewer perpendicular to the floor, flat end up, tightly against the edge of a work table with your thumb clamping it there (thumb safely below the top surface of the table so as not to cut your self).  There should be about an inch ( 25 mm) or more protruding above the table edge.  Using a sharp knife place the cutting edge on top of the end of the skewer, across the centre as best as you can and push down slightly increasing pressure so the blade slices through to the table top in a controlled cut.  Do not do this at your good dining room table unless you are a bachelor and want to remain so.  Once scored remove the skewer from the table and turn it 90° so it is horizontal to the floor and place the knife blade back in the scored/cut end.  Grab the parted end with your free hand and pull it through the knife.  You now have two clean straight cut halves (I haven't tried this yet but I saw it done multiple times).  Now repeat with one half, and again with one quarter until you have a length at a size that will feed into the largest hole in your draw plate.  You might have to sharpen one end of the piece to aid feeding it into the tiny hole.  Grab it with your parallel pliers and pull it through a couple times, then jump a hole and go down to a smaller hole and repeat the process until you reach the size/diameter treenail you need.


The draw plate has tapered holes so the smaller diameter on one side is the cutting edge.  On mine, the hole sizes are stamped on the large hole side, the out feed side.  You feed into the small hole side.  I was told that if the wood sliver piece is ever so slightly too large to feed into the small hole you can try pushing it in the out feed side to crush the fibres down to allow it to feed into the infeed side... or resharpen it to a point with a knife.


I have ordered the parallel pliers Druxey recommended in an earlier post (#999 above) as they are indeed instrumental in causing less damage to the tiny bamboo.  They have not come in yet.  I may make a video when the darn pliers show up.  It is a simple enough process once you've see it and have done it.




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Here is a video showing the method of making treenails that was shown to me by a very talented model maker that is in our local club.


Of course, for all that have done it over and over before, it is quite a simple process... but for the rest of us, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is priceless.

I always tend to make more out of things then they are.


Other things I'd learned.  Treenails and bolts are used in the planks on the sides of the hull.  The deck planks were spiked and plugged and the plugs were barely (if at all) noticeable.

The thickness of the hull planking determined the diameter of the bolt or treenail which were not the same size.

Bolting/treenailing patterns differed outside versus inside.  Wedges were driven into the ends of treenails to make them hold better.

Deck planking did not always run straight on the upper (weather) decks, in the earlier periods, up to somewhere in the mid 1700's, they bent inwards at the bow and stern.

The head of a deck spike was about 5/8" diameter.


Thickness of  hull planking / Diameter of Bolts / Diameter of Treenails (Wooden Ship Building, Charles Desmond, 1919 - same as ASA dated 1885)

1"  /  1/2"  /  7/8"

2-1/2"  /  5/8"  /  1"

3" to 3-1/2"  /  3/4"  /  1-1/8"

4" to 4-1/2"  /  7/8"  /  1-1/4"

5" to 5-1/2"  /  15/16"  /  1-3/8"

6" and over  /  1"  /  1-1/2"


Deck fastening details - Elements of wooden ship construction - curtis 1919.JPG

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