Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Bow and Stern Main Rail: FIXED!

August 26, 2016

Day 147.

In my last post, I showed how the Model Shipways Bluenose kit’s provided laser-cut pieces for the main rail at the bow and stern didn’t fit.  After reviewing everything, I think the pieces are fine, but I’m having a problem because of how my hull differs slightly from the plans.

Today I worked on making my own custom bow and stern pieces for the main rail, tailored specifically to my physical hull.

Since I’m primarily a tech guy, my goal was to get the actual hull size/shape into the computer, then use software to draw properly sized templates.  I’m sure there are many ways to get the actual size/shape into the computer, but I came up with a fairly simple method.

I started by putting some double-sided tape on the bow and stern.


To get a drawing of the actual hull shape at the bow, I started by liberally applying some double-stick tape.

Then I stuck some card stock (really heavy paper) on top of the tape.


I stuck some card stock to the tape.

Using a fresh knife blade, I trimmed this down to fit the shape of the hull.  I only focused on the outside edge.  The inside was left with some extra card stock.


I used a #11 X-Acto blade to trim the outside edge of the card stock to match the lines of the hull.  The inside doesn’t matter as much.

Once this was done, I pulled the card stock off the hull, leaving the tape on the card stock, and stuck it to some paper.  Next I used my dividers to transfer the various dimensions onto the cut-out.  Since the outside shape was accurate, I used that as a reference.

I repeated the process for the stern.  This gave me a sheet with the outline of the bow and stern.


The card stock was removed and stuck to some paper, then the measurements for bulwark thickness, stanchion size/position, etc. were transferred.

Next I scanned this into the computer.  I scanned at 300 DPI (and noted that, since I need to maintain the same DPI throughout the process to ensure I stay in scale).  This gave me a digital ‘plan’ to work from, showing the actual shape of the bow and stern.

I also scanned in the appropriate parts of the plans, so I would have 300 DPI versions of the laser-cut pieces from the kit.

I imported all this into Adobe Photoshop, and added the drawings and laser-cut outlines into a single document.  The first step was to verify that I see the same sizing/alignment problems here, which should verify that I have everything at the right size (and accurately reflecting the problem I saw on the actual hull.


After scanning the drawing in the computer, along with the related parts of the kit’s plans, I verified that the drawings of the kit’s parts didn’t line up.  (Kit parts in pink.)

Then I carefully repositioned the laser-cut pieces, cut them up, and re-built them in the software so they fit my ship.  I was careful to keep the ‘width’ of the rail the same ( I didn’t scale that).  Once I had these to my liking, I cleaned them up, and looked at how my new and old pieces compared.


An hour or so of work, and I have custom bow and stern pieces drawn.  The custom pieces are grey, and the pink kit pieces are overlaid for comparison.

Once I had everything looking good, I turned off all the extra layers and created a clean ‘template’.  I printed this at 300 DPI (same as what I used to scan).


Once the new pieces looked good, I disabled the other parts of the drawing to create a ‘clean’ template suitable for printing.

Before I start hacking away at wood, I decided to cut up the page and use the paper templates to verify everything looks good.

I added the bow and stern pieces, using the paper templates.


The bow piece was cut out, and the paper template was tested against the actual hull.


The stern piece was also tested using a paper template.


Looks good!

Next I printed off another copy of the templates, and stuck it on some 1/16″ basswood sheets using double-sided tape.  I did a couple quick cuts to make the pieces more manageable.


Using a fresh copy of the printed template, I attached the paper to some 1/16″ basswood sheets.

Then I started cutting!  There’s actually a number of very straight edges here, so I used a 6″ ruler and my X-acto blade to get those straight.  Once the pieces were cut, I did some quick sanding while I still had the templates attached.

Once I had everything cleaned up, I removed the paper templates, and was able to compare my custom pieces to the kit’s laser cut pieces.


After cutting out the pieces with a #11 X-Acto knife, the new pieces (top) and the kit’s laser cut pieces (bottom) are compared.

Final step is to test-fit the actual pieces on the ship.


The final ‘new’ bow piece is tested on the actual hull.


The stern piece also gets a real test-fit.

I’m not gonna say “perfect”, but those are pretty perfect.

I’m still days (or more) away from actually installing the rail, so I’ll wait to do final cleanup on these pieces until then.