Solid-Hull Models Present a Challenge: Finding a Large Enough Block of Wood
Bread-and-Butter Solid Hull Construction Makes Scratch-Building Easier
Cutting Planks to Ship Plan Waterlines Shortens Hull Shaping Time
One of the most popular methods of scratch-building a solid hull for larger ship models, called the bread-and-butter technique, reduces the thickness (and expense) of wood needed as compared to the solid block method.
This method uses the waterlines from the ship plan to cut out several planks that will be layered like slices of bread to create the solid hull, and glued together (the butter).
A major advantage of this method – in addition to less cost for wood than a solid block – is that since each plank is cut to the breadth of the hull at a certain level, there is less filing and sanding to reach the final shape than a single block of wood, which must be cut to the widest breadth of the hull.
I checked that book out week after week, and read it front-to-back, back-to-front, middle-to-ends and any other way possible. My favorite part was (being a child in a state surrounded by the Great Lakes) the chapter on building an electric lake freighter.
I didn’t have access to a saw, but I found some 2x4s in the garage that had been cut with stake-like pointed ends. I stacked them, nailed them together, and found other bits of wood from which to make the freighter superstructure and funnel. I even found some small nails and string to model the stanchions and railings surrounding the bow and stern on real freighters I’d seen.
Excited to launch my new “scale” model of an actual lake freighter, I insisted we take the two-foot long chunk of lumber with nails sticking out of it with us on our trip to our summer cottage. My mother, however, drew the line at letting me carry a potentially dangerous weapon on my lap during the two-hour car ride. She made me put it behind the seats in the cargo compartment of our Buick station wagon.
When we arrived, I immediately changed into my swimming trunks, and insisted we go swimming. I carried my model carefully down the trail through the woods that led to the lake. Casting aside towel and sandals, I dashed into the cold water almost to my waist, and carefully set my lake freighter model in the water.
Imagining a band playing a John Philip Sousa march appropriate for the launching of such an impressive vessel, I carefully let go of the model.
And it promptly capsized.
I never did get that darn thing to float right, but I kept it on a shelf in my room for years.