HMS Warrior 1781

February 23, 2007

Stem – fatal screw up?

Filed under: Keel,screw ups,Vol. 1 — admin @ 4:32 pm

So, I’ve been working on the stem this week, cutting and fitting…….

The practicum recommends spot gluing a few pieces of scrap wood around the edges of the construction and running it through the thickness sander, this seemed like a good idea as my wood was a little too thick anyway:

What seems like a good idea at the time, isn’t always, (which also explains most of the major injuries of my life). So……….. I ran the construction through the thickness sander like Romero shows in the practicum except that the very tip of the stem (the apron hasn’t been put on yet) strayed over to the rougher side of the Byrnes sander and got a little too much taken off and the top – the 1/2 inch or so above the terminus of the rabbet is now 1/4 inch instead of the 9/32 it should be. I’ve taped on temporarily the top part of the apron for comparison in this pic:

I’m trying to decide how big of a mistake this is going to be and if I need to rebuild the stem . I’m open for comment, I can’t be the only goober to have done this ……. ummm ……… am I?

February 17, 2007

Starting the Stem and 2 scroll saw mods

Filed under: Keel,Vol. 1 — admin @ 9:58 pm

Looking over the 4 pieces of Pau Marfin, I picked out the best one, glued down the stem-post patterns and started cutting. Having practiced the week prior, I felt pretty confident in my abilities. What I failed to take into consideration is that Pau Marfin is a lot harder to cut than the basswood I had been practicing on. I tried a few different blades in the scroll saw, the one that works best for me is the Olson 62200 plain-end crown tooth blade, the kerf is only .013″ and has 20 tpi. It is a very fine blade, and is not much thicker than the lines on the pattern, has no tear-out on the top or bottom of the piece, and the cut edge has a very finished “sanded” feel. They don’t however, last as long as heavier blades and I went through 3 cutting out the stem post pieces. These blades are a real pain in the ass to replace in my trusty old Dremel 6271 scroll saw. Fortunately, Sears makes a quick change attachment for their scroll saws that also fits my saw (the original manufactures must the same I imagine). This little mod is great and changing blades is now so much easier than before:

I also rigged up a dust collection system with a few plumbing supplies from Home Depot.

OK, so the first cutting didn’t really go too well and I will probably only be able to use about 1/2 to 1/3 of the pieces I cut, but I did learn a few things. Cut really slowly, stay to the middle – outer edge of the pattern line, try not to start and stop in the middle of a cut, and make damn sure the table of the saw is absolutely perpendicular to the saw blade. I tell you, I really can’t stress this last point enough. After my last saw blade change (which I had to do because I wandered while cutting a piece, got pissed off and ripped the whole thing out including the blade -anger management anyone?) I forgot to to check the plumb of the blade and as a result the last 5 pieces I cut were all at an angle (including all 3 of the stem-post pieces). What a dumbass. I tried sanding them, but that failed miserably so I decided to re-cut them. Looks like I’ll need to order another piece or three of Pau Marfin. Interestingly, Pau Marfin kind of smells like buttered popcorn when it starts to heat up with the saw – makes me hungry. Here’s the second stem-post (pieces 1,2,3), I gotta admit the scarfs came out dead on this time around:

Here it is with a few of the salvageable pieces:

and finally gluing up pieces 1,2,3

I’ve laid everything out on a piece a long piece of glass, Starboard and Port views as well as the gluing up sequence:

This little miter sander I bought at the local hobby shop comes in handy for the “flats” and even-ing out the scarf joints.

it’s late……………………………………..

February 14, 2007

Wood arrives and Thickness Sander mod

Filed under: Vol. 1 — admin @ 9:19 pm

So my wood arrived today – Holy smokes, I don’t know what I was expecting but that was one big package of dead trees.

Unpacked and stored on some hanging shelves I installed just for that purpose:

I chose Pau Marfin for the keel, (as recommended) and Cherry for the frames. I hope the two don’t clash too much, the Pau Marfin is quite yellow when laid up against the pink of the Cherry (and which will only get darker with age). The color difference isn’t as striking in this picture as it is in person.

The wood isn’t milled to a real exacting standard and will all have to be fed through the thickness sander to get it to the proper dimension, for example; the piece of Pau Marfin for the stem post should be 9/32″ thick but is actually closer to 19/64″ and so will need to be taken down 1/64″ to get it just right. I imagine this is by design so I can finish the piece to my own standards (at least I hope that’s the reason) as the surface is still a little rough.

One of the problems I have when using the thickness sander is that I tend to lift the wood when pulling it through and end up taking too much off the ends. I had some hardboard laying around the shop left over from making the frame cutting jigs and, so I put it to good use and made an extension for the table of the thickness sander to support the wood as it comes through ( I love that stuff):

It’s a pretty simple construction and just clamps on to the back part of the table making it as long as the front.

I cut out the center so I could see the adjustment wheel. I have since found that spring clamps hold it more securely than the brass clamps in the picture, but I’m too lazy to fix the image. Works well though.

February 9, 2007

Scrollsaw practice and reading ahead in chapter 4

Filed under: Vol. 1 — admin @ 9:43 pm

So, the jigs are all done, now I’m just waiting for my wood supply to arrive. I figure it’s a good time get some scrollsaw practice in. So, I bought a few pieces of basswood and glued the stempost patterns to them, and started cutting. I’m glad I did this, as I really need to refine and practice my scrollsaw technique. OK, here’s a couple of things I ‘ve “discovered” that have improved my scrollsaw abilities. I was originally looking at where the saw bit into the wood from about a 45 degree angle, I’ve found though if I get right above the blade and look straight down it, I tend to cut much more accurately. Two other things I’ve found (after much experimenting) is that slow is always better (my wife might agree with that statement too), slow blade speed with a slow feed and leave as much wood around the piece as possible so you’ve got something to hold onto and maneuver. At first I was cutting everything away from the different sides and angles, now I try to cut the piece out from an intact piece of wood (that is, like a jigsaw puzzle piece). Some of these pieces are quite small and difficult to manipulate otherwise. Now this may strike some as stupidly obvious, but………well there you go.

I gotta admit, after cutting out about 3 practice stemposts, I’m getting better.

Y’know, chapter 4 is completely schizophrenic. The good Rev. is all over the place in this one – he skips around from topic to topic, he comes back, he starts over, he tells you to glue it all up then tells you not to, sand the rabbet, no don’t sand the rabbet, cut on the line,no cut to the outside with the edge of the blade down the center of the line, he repeats himself, he contradicts himself. And to top it all off what’s the deal with the advanced and beginner level keels, Hahn method and contemporary? If you ask me the one isn’t that much more complicated or difficult to construct than the other. The whole thing is just one big confusing read. I think I’ve finally made sense of it, but I wish he would have gone back and collected his thoughts better – makes you wonder about his sermons. 🙂 (Just kidding Rev.)

The workshop (if anyone is interested):


February 6, 2007

Up to date, choosing wood, and bagpipes (of all things)

Filed under: Vol. 1 — admin @ 8:30 pm

Ok, as of now the blog is up to date, that is, this is exactly where I am in the practicum. I have spent the past few days posting what I had already done. Everything from here on forward happens in “real time”, so to speak.

The next step in the practicum is making the keel, however, I am still awaiting my wood supply from the Lumberyard.

Which brings me to another point that I failed to mention, wood.

I went back and forth on this point and even had an extensive on-line conversation with Rev. Romero about it.

The practicum recommends using Redgum for the frames, however this is pretty much unavailable now that Warner Woods West is no longer dealing in lumber. There is absolutely no source for this wood that I could find anywhere.

Padre Romero recommends against using Maple or Swiss Pear as he says they are very hard and difficult to work with, I have had others tell me this isn’t true – I think it must be a matter of personal preference. I chose to to make the frames out of Cherry – it’s not too hard and I love the color of the wood. Dave at The Lumberyard was very helpful in talking with me. I went with the recommended Pau Marfin and Mansonia for the keel.

The Rev. tried to get me to try my hand at milling my own wood, and I came very close to choosing this as an option, but then I got thinking. I’ve never made a real POF ship before, there is enough to learn and enough opportunity to screw up (ahem, which I’ve already managed) without adding an added level of complexity. Perhaps later on in the practicum I’ll try milling wood, but right now I think I’m better off using pre-milled wood. Interestingly, I have a friend who makes Uilleann (Irish) bagpipes for a living, he cut down an American Pear tree and has been seasoning it for a few years now. He has offered me the wood should I want it in the future. It’s highly figured, but maybe………………. someday……………….

Here’s a pic of an uilleann pipe chanter he made from the wood (from

Incidentally, if you tool around the images at his site, you can see my set – the mopane chanters and the drone set with the antique cherry mainstock and cocobolo drones and regulators.

Ok now, here’s the tie in to British warships and the uilleann pipes. If you watch the movie “Master and Commander”, there is a scene where the sailors are having a sing-song on the deck. The fellow sitting down and playing the odd looking instrument is playing the uilleann pipes. Watch closely though because you only see and hear him for a few seconds.

That is all, carry on men.

February 5, 2007

Making the frame cutting jigs

Filed under: Vol. 1 — admin @ 8:34 pm

The practicum provides templates for building the frame cutting jigs (and the frames as well), however if you are building in 3/16″ you have to enlarge these 150% (just like the plans), fortunately you can also buy this absolutely HUGE supplementary plan from Rev. Romero with all of the jigs and templates drawn out for you to scale. I bought one, then took it to Kinko’s and copied it so that I would have a clean backup copy (especially since you have to cut the templates out of it. Here’s a picture of the plan – it’s 8 feet long (the amazing thing is that the large format copier could handle it), you can see the frame cutting jig templates in the middle portion of the plan:

frame plan

The practicum doesn’t make any really strong recommendations for what to build theses jigs out of (I think he used 1/4″ plywood). I chose 3/16″ hardboard instead for a couple of reasons; it’s cheap, very stiff, has a nice smooth surface on one side to attach the templates to, and since it has no grain, long straight cuts in it are easy with the scroll saw. I love the feel of the stuff too. I cut out the blanks first with a table saw, glued on the templates with rubber cement and then cut out the slots with the scroll saw – reverse cutting, pin-end blade. Here is a front and back picture of two boards, I was a little worried how the rough side would slide over the table saw, but it moves just fine:

If you have a Preac saw, you must build an extension to the table to accommodate the jigs in 3/16″ size, however the table of my Byrnes saw is 10″x12″ and easily supports them without any extensions (score 1 for the Byrnes saw). I cut the miter gauge adapter bars from strips of 1/2″ pine and then sized them in the thickness sander (damn that thing is handy). I tried fitting them like the Reverend shows in the practicum by pushing the jigs up against the blade and drawing lines on the under-side and readjusting – I just could’nt keep everything still enough to do this with any accuracy. Then I remembered the rip fence on the Byrnes saw – that thing is ram-rod straight and ridiculously accurate. I dropped the blade, brought the rip fence over and was able to easily glue each miter gauge adapter bar to the frame cutting jigs very easily, very accurately, and very quickly – another point for the Byrnes saw.

Setting the rip fence:

Gluing the jig to the miter gauge adapter bar, each slot in the jig is up against the rip fence:

The stack of finished frame cutting jigs:

Building the framing jig part 3

Filed under: Vol. 1 — admin @ 4:49 pm

I departed a little bit from the practicum when building the box for the framing jig. The practicum recommends 1″ x 6″ pine, I chose to use 1″ x 4″ pine instead to make the whole thing less bulky. It is important that the whole construction lay flat without any wobble to ensure that the frames are lined up correctly (or so I believe). Once I got the frame assembled there was a small amount of wobble in one corner. Despite using “select” pine and looking for the straightest pieces, there was a little warp to one of them. To fix this, I inserted 2 brass washers along the edge with the screws  – the whole construction now lays perfectly flat. Here’s the corner in question:

warped end

There is also a length of plywood placed inside the box and up against the framing jig board, this forms a “floor” to keep the tops of the frames all even. Rev. Romero says to cover this with tin foil to keep the frames from sticking to this board when they are glued in place. I think this looks goofy, not mention that foil is fairly fragile and tears easily. I decided to use clear packing tape instead, you can just see it reflecting the light in the following picture:

jig with tape

Here’s the finished box from the top (you can see the clear packing tape in this image too) :

and from the bottom:

framing board bottom

Ok, so I made a few changes in finishing the framing jig “box”, hopefully they won’t come back to haunt me later.

Building the framing jig part 2

Filed under: Vol. 1 — admin @ 10:00 am

Since I had decided to start over on the framing jig and do it right this time, I needed to come up with some 3/8″ cabinet grade plywood. That’s a lot easier than it sounds. I dragged my shaggy ass all over town looking for this stuff. I must have visited 20 different lumber dealers. I was ready to give up, but then I remembered we have a Woodcraft store here in town – I usually don’t think of them because they tend to be expensive and feature a limited lumber supply. Well they had it, a nice 5′ x 5′ piece of 3/8′ Baltic birch plywood board for about $30. That’s twice as much wood as I need, but at least I had back up in case I screwed it up again.

So…………. I took the plans to Kinkos again and made another copy of the framing jig and mounted it on the board. This time I pre-drilled the board in several spaces to facilitate changing blades as well as changing directions and removing large pieces of the center portion. If you look closely in this pic you can see where I’ve put some pencil X’s on the plan where I want to put the drill holes. There are a few “stepped” points along the jig where it is just easier if you stop there and reposition the board (click the image for a larger version of this picture) :

board 1 icon

Rev. Romero shows in the practicum that in order to cut the whole board out and maneuver around the limitations of the arm size of the scroll saw, you will need to mount the blade backward to cut out the second half of the jig. Well, I don’t know what kind of saw he has, but mine allows me to mount the blade either front/back or sideways. So I mounted the blade sideways and was able to cut the whole thing out without having to worry about the arm getting in the way. I used a reverse cut pin-end blade to cut the center section out.

board 2

The good reverend recommends cutting the frame notches out by hand with a jeweler’s saw. That’s nuts, not only would it take forever and be interminably tedious (I know, I tried), it’s just not necessary. I was able to do the whole thing on the jigsaw. I switched to a crown tooth plain-end blade, mounted it front to back and cut all of the “verticals”, then I re-mounted the blade sideways and cut out each of the horizontal sections in two pieces just like he shows in the practicum. It took a couple of hours tops, if I’d have done it manually, well…. I’d still be doing it.

notche close up

I’ll tell you what improved my scroll saw abilities immensely. I was at a woodworking show this weekend and one of the vendors was selling foot switches for tools. What a difference that makes, step on the pedal and the saw is on, let up and it turns off. It really gives fine control over the cutting process without having to fumble for the on/off switch with the blade running. Nice.

February 4, 2007

Building the framing jig, part 1

Filed under: screw ups,Vol. 1 — admin @ 8:25 pm

Since I enlarged the plans to 3/16″ size, I needed to buy a piece of 3/8″ plywood to make the framing jig. Unfortunately neither Home Depot nor Lowe’s had cabinet grade plywood in this size, they only had 7/16″ thick plywood. I figured what difference does that make and bought the plywood (I was ultimately wrong). I glued the framing jig template to the board and started to cut it out.

Ok, so the last time I had actually used my scroll saw was about 12 years ago and I was a little out of practice. What I didn’t realize was how hard it would be to cut this thing out and maneuver the board around. I sawed all the way down to one end and then realized I had to back the blade all the way out to go in the other direction. I ended up needing to drill holes all over the board in different places so I could easily rotate the board and to facilitate getting out some of the larger center pieces. To make a long story short, I screwed the whole thing up and what’s more someone pointed out to me that by using 7/16″ plywood instead of the recommended 3/8″ I would need to add 1/16′” to each frame. No big problem, except that I know I’d forget to do it when the time came. So I decided to scrap the whole thing and start over.

The plans

Filed under: The beginning — admin @ 7:33 pm

Unfortunately the plans for the Warrior do not come with the practicum, you need to order them separately from Harold Hahn. What’s more they aren’t even the plans for the Warrior, but rather the plans for the HMS Alfred – another 74 gun ship in the same class as the Warrior. Fortunately the framing and basic construction is the same so the plans work well. The Warrior has different carvings and decorations, but Rev. Romero provides those later. Make sure to ask Mr. Hahn for a copyright waiver when you order them so that no one will question you if you want to enlarge or copy them.

When the plans arrived, I unrolled them and laid them out on the floor. They are drawn in 1/8 inch scale and my first impression was, “hey that’s pretty small”. So I ran down to Kinkos and enlarged them by 150% up to 3/16″ scale. Wow, what a difference that makes, as my son said, “now those are real man sized” Here’s a pic with the original 1/8″ plans laid on top of the 3/16″ plans (with a 12″ ruler thrown in for scale) :


The large format copier at Kinkos did a great job enlarging the plans, I made 1 inch vertical and horizontal marks on the originals and they were exactly 1.5 inches long on the enlarged copies.

3/16″ seems to really be the perfect size for this ship model. 1/8″ is too small and 1/4″ would be absolutely HUGE.

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