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How to Taper Masts?


mkmossop
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The answer may be - it depends! :huh:

 

If you're starting with a square billet of wood, then you can mark the taper out and plane down to the taper first, then when you round your spar the taper is already worked into it.

 

If you're starting with a round dowel then, assuming you don't have a lathe, many people chuck the dowel in a drill press or a hand held electric driss that has been clamped in a fixed place and then use files and sandpaper to taper the rotating dowel.

 

John

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Personally, I work with dowel or a piece of square stock and work it down with a miniature plane.  I don't believe there is an advantage in either case, both are very easy to do.  Just remember to take very small amounts of wood off with the plane, it takes time but it's the best way to procede.  It's also important that your plane is razor sharp and adjusted properly before you attempt to taper your mast.  Do sample cuts on a "Test" dowel or or square stock before you tackel the real thing.  Always take your time and remove small amounts of wood and check the diameter often.

 

Tim

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Personally, I work with dowel or a piece of square stock and work it down with a miniature plane.  I don't believe there is an advantage in either case, both are very easy to do.  Just remember to take very small amounts of wood off with the plane, it takes time but it's the best way to procede.  It's also important that your plane is razor sharp and adjusted properly before you attempt to taper your mast.  Do sample cuts on a "Test" dowel or or square stock before you tackel the real thing.  Always take your time and remove small amounts of wood and check the diameter often.

 

Tim

 

 

Hmmm... do you rotate the wood along the lathe or move the lathe along the wood?

 

You might check another thread here on this forum. http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/334-my-variation-on-lathe/

 

Wow cool... I think I'll give this a go first and see how it works... thanks!

Edited by mkmossop
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  • 2 weeks later...

A tool I find handy for tapering is a Stanley knife blade for cutting carpet.It is curved and you can either use as a scraper or as a blade for cutting.

 

Tony

 

 

current build MAYFLOWER

Edited by tony
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I did a presentation on masts and spars for the club I belong to.  (Shameless plug for the The Nautical Research and Model Ship Society of Chicago.)  I've attached the presentation.  I use a small lathe made by Harbor Freight Tools, a digital caliper and a file.

 

Hope this helps!

 

 

 

Dan

Masts and Spars.pdf

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For those who work exclusively by hand (or those of us not to be trusted with power tools :)), I included a brief description of some of my tapering methods in my log.

 

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/217-bluenose-by-bhermann-model-shipways-2130-164/page-3

 

Check posts #33 and 34 for the details.

 

Bob

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I used the dowel-in-drill trick tonight and it worked very well and was quick. I used a rough sandpaper to get it down to size quickly, and then a much finer one to finish it off. It may not be as accurate as some people like, but it did a good enough job for what I want.

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Never had any sucess with either a lathe or plane so I cut the dowel to the required length, mark the with a flet pen dot to the required  finished yard diameter, then mark off the taper profile on the dowel. Rough shape the yard with a small fine file, usually resting the dowel in a small notch on the edge of my bench, file and rotate the dowel slowly to get the profile finishing with various stage sanding with good quality abrasive papers, not cheapy sandpapers. Must have made 30 odd by this method to date its accurate and fast. I check the diameters using a vernier and I can get within 0.2 mm normally or better without much fuss.Considering I have yet to find a concentric dowel.

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  • 1 year later...

Interesting discussion, as I was wondering how to give my masts the proper siz since the beginning of my first build. I was planning to buy a lathe, but I do not have any experience with it. I have no idea if they are easy to work with or even what brand is the best buy. Maybe I will try to do it with sanding paper only, although I think it will not give a satisfying result.

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Hi Ken, there are many ways to get the shape, and the least expensive is the sand paper and electric drill method.  You can get the proper shape without a lathe. 

 

The lathe is another method but requires different techniques and some experience.  If you go this route, do some practice to get the feel.  You will also likely use sand paper. 

 

Have fun.                                       Duff

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I use a small lathe but that's partly because i really enjoy wood turning and it gives me an excuse. The main problem is the workpiece pushing off as the dimaeter gets smaller. So I built an adjustable steady which helps. But anything smaller than about 3mm needs mostly sandpaper. To control a taper I divide the taper length into 'portions' then do the same for the diameters (same number of portions). Then turn/sand to the required diameter at the required distance. gets pretty good results, can normally hold to within 0.1mm


 


Nick


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For a better controlled process, build yourself a simple jig. Get 2 paint mixing sticks (for free from Home Depot), cut them to appropriate lengths (slightly longer than the length of your mast) and glue to each on one side a strip of medium grade sand paper.

At one end of such stick glue short piece of wood (spacer) of same thickness as the top of your mast, and at the opposite end glue two other spacers as thick as the bottom diameter of your mast, leaving center hole empty. Glue both sticks together. Especially helpful if you fabricate many identical parts.

 

 

 

Clamp your jig to the worktable.

 

Insert one end of your dowel into a chuck of a handheld drill and place the opposite end of the dowel into this center hole of your jig. Start your drill and gently press it into your jig, until it goes all the way. It will be stopped by the smaller spacer at the other end. Voila!

 

I saw this concept in the Polish shipmodeling forum - one modeler was fabricating a few dozen oars for his model. You can see it here (scroll down the page half way to see appropriate pics).

 

http://www.koga.net.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=44911&p=57251&hilit=galera#p57251

post-6975-0-67684300-1401934297_thumb.jpg

Edited by Dziadeczek
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  • 3 months later...

I use Bob's lathe and file method. I first tried the sandpaper method but found out it would not keep the dowel round as I sanded as material was removed faster in the plain grain areas than the quarter grain areas. The file helped me control that. I used fine sand paper glued to a tounge depresser to finish it off. I did the step-downed section of the tips by hand since the wood is too thin to keep from breaking in the lathe.(Ask me how I know).

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