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    Home / Model Tips / General Model Building Tips
Cutting Out Printed Wood Parts
    Building Methods
    Here is a tip about cutting out small parts that might crack into tiny hard to reglue pieces, such as the small fingers of balsa wood left after cutting out stringer slots. Before cutting use rubber cement to paste some heavy Kraft paper on the back of the printed wood. The Kraft paper will hold all the little pieces in place since the paper has no grain to split. Then later on if there is a split in the wood rub a very thin layer of rubber cement over the front of the split part after cutting. When the cement is dry, peal the paper off the back of the wood, and gently rub with your finger to remove the rubber cement residue. This adds very little weight to the model, but a lot of extra strength.
    - Allan P. Weisman
    Trace the parts on the printed wood prior to cutting them out, in this way you will have a pattern for a Extra part should you make a cutting error. Another easy way to do this would be to photocopy the printed wood to make your patterns.
    - Allan P. Weisman
    While you are cutting all the fuselage pieces out, some pieces can get lost or destroyed, but fortunately there is a way to keep all the little pieces of strip wood safe from getting lost and in some semblance of order. All that is needed is a sheet of paper, and a roll of double sided tape. Hold the paper sideways, then put a strip of tape across the page near the bottom. You can stick your fuselage-bottom longerons on this strip. Now tape another strip a little farther up the piece of paper, on this you can put the extra uprights from the cabin area. Make another strip for the top-longerons, and then one final strip for the top and bottom cross pieces. Now you have all the strip wood pieces safe from getting lost. If you put them on in order to build the model it makes things a lot easier. This same system can be used anywhere you cut parts prior to construction.
    Tricks of the Trade
    - Allan P. Weisman

    Get some spruce sticks of various thicknesses, 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 3/8, etc. Cut the sticks into 6" lengths then glue different grades of sand paper on the edges of the sticks. You now have a set of sander blocks to use on the inside of stringer slots. Sanding blocks can also be made by gluing sand paper to various sized dowels and lumber trim shapes such as half round, quarter round etc. for sanding hard to reach places like the formers between stringers.
    - Allan P. Weisman
    Inexpensive sanding sticks can be bought at the local cosmetic department of any of the chain stores. They are inexpensive, can be cut to any shape and come in different grits. The clerk will probably know them as emery boards or nail files.
    - Dick LeClair

Building Methods

    Building Methods Building Methods
    Building Methods Building Methods

    When building a half shell fuselage usually only a one side view is shown on the plan. One side is built over the plan, and the other side is built on the first side this can cause a lot of misalignment when gluing the very small areas of the left, and right formers together. These problems can be avoided very easily. The steps to do this are simple.
    1) Make a duplicate set of center pieces that the half formers are glued to.
    2) If necessary enlarge the notch in the half former that goes over the center pieces.
    3) Build one half of the fuselage as usual using a triangle to insure that the half formers are trued up at a proper 90 degree angle to the building board.
    4) Turn plan over, and rub a light coating of cooking oil over the back of the plan in the area of the fuselage side view. This will make the plan translucent so that the other half can be built directly over the plan as the first half was.
    5) Glue the 2 sides together along the wide center pieces this gives you a large glue area, and you can use V notched wood, or spring clothes pins to hold the 2 halves together as the glue dries.
    - Allan P. Weisman
    I build all models on a plate of glass, such as that used for a picture, or one cut by a shop. I put the plan underneath the glass. The model is then built as normal on top of the glass, and the pieces held in place with masking tape. This ensures all parts and components are perfectly flat, as well as providing a better work area. Excess glue, paint, and other droppings are easily cleaned with a razor blade or Windex.
    - Rick Krakoff
    Here is another way to build both sides of half shell fuselages over the plan. Most models of this type build with a right side, and a left side. one side is built over the plan, the other is built in the air, which means one side can be perfectly aligned, the other might be built with warps. There are some models such as the Easy Built Gremlin which are built as top, and bottom. This type of construction allows you to build both halves over the plans. Converting the side built to top, and bottom built is not difficult. Simply glue the half formers together on a flat surface. Then locate the center side stringer notch (one that goes from nose to tail). Cut the formers apart across the center of this notch, enlarge the notch to take a full stringer in both halves. Now you can build the top half over the plan top view, using triangles to keep everything properly aligned. When it is dry, take it off the plan, and build the bottom half over the top view, using triangles to keep proper alignment. The completed halves can now be joined, completing the construction. If you need small building triangles, take a strip of balsa 1/4" thick, and 1" wide, now use a miter box and razor saw to cut out as many triangles as you need. They can be pinned to your building board where needed.
    It should be noted that this technique will make the model slightly heavier but may make it easier for some builders to get that straight and true fuselage.
    - Allan P. Weisman
    Some builder's are unaware they can build off simple ceiling tiles, which can be found at any hardware store (I prefer home depot). Ceiling tiles are very light, durable, and are also good for holding the parts down using pins. They also work for holding cutting tools in order (anything sharp sticks into it easily and firmly), and they absorb small glue spills.
    - Joey Sanchez
    When adding wheels to the landing gear wire, you will need to use retainers to keep them from falling off. The usual choices are:  
    A) Wrap soft wire around the landing gear wire and fix with solder. This adds weight, and may imbalance the model causing unwanted turns in flight.  
    B) Wrap heavy thread around the landing gear wire and fix with glue. This adds less weight than wire, but may also cause imbalance.  
    C) Build up a layer of glue on the ends of the landing gear wire. Unless exactly the same weight of glue is used on both sides, imbalance may occur.  
    D) Bend the ends of the landing gear wire. This does not affect in any way but one, it doesn't look good esthetically.
    Here is a great no-cost alternative wheel retainer that adds very little weight, causes no imbalance, and is virtually invisible. There is always a bit of celluloid left over after cutting out the window patterns for a model (other plastics can be used as well), use a paper hole puncher to easily make small round, invisible retainers of equal size. Now use a pin to make a hole that is less than the diameter of the landing gear wire in each of the retainers. All that remains is simply to force the plastic onto the ends of the wire. Friction will hold the plastic retainers in place, and they are invisible.
    - Allan P. Weisman

De-Thermalizer - The simplest way to deal with a kick-up stab DT,
would be to extend the fuselage back to the rear edge of the 
rudder, then build a subrudder to match the plan, and let the stab 
with upper portion of the rudder attached rest on the top of the 
fuselage. On my Miss Canada Senior, I ended the fuselage where the plan
shows and after building the rudder per the plan, I simply cut it in two pieces
on a line level with the bottom of the stab line, added a couple of 
reinforcements on each side of the cut, glued the upper rudder 
portion to the stab and the lower portion to the bottom of the 
fuselage extending aft as shown on the plan.  You'll need some better 
support than shown on the plan for the sub-rudder.  I also widened 
the fuselage about 1/8" at the point where the rear motor is located 
to make a blast tube easier to insert. - George White

Gang Cutting Ribs from Template

Wood Putty for Balsa

Gluing Up Your Model

    There is an easy way to insure that wing ribs, and fuselage clam shell type construction formers are held at a 90 degree angle to the building board while the glue dries. All that is needed is a supply of triangles that can be pinned on either side of the rib, or former. To make these triangles you will need various widths of 1/8 strip wood, a razor saw, and a miter box. For wing ribs I recommend 1/8 X 3/4, and for fuselage formers I recommend 1/8 X 1, and 1/8 X 2. Simply measure along the length of the wood, and mark off sections equal to the height of the strip. Thus you will have marked off 3/4 inch squares on the 3/4 inch wood, 1 inch squares on the 1 inch wood, 2 inch squares on the 2 inch wood. Then use the miter box and razor saw to cut out a supply of 45 degree right triangles. Now all you have to do is pin 2 triangles on each side of the rib or former to hold the part at a perfect 90 degree angle till the glue dries. Please note because of the dihedral on some models it is necessary to glue the wing root ribs at an angle. In these cases simply calculate the proper angle, and use a protractor to transfer it to the triangles used to hold that rib in place.
    - Allan P. Weisman
    When building a model, there is always the extra glue that has hardened around a joint and has to be removed. This can be minimized by using flat toothpicks as glue sticks. Instead of squeezing large gobs of glue onto the parts, apply the glue to the end of a flat toothpick and then transfer it to the parts. Not only does this permit you to apply the glue where it is needed and no where else, it also saves the cost of all the wasted glue, and the time and trouble of removing the excess later.
    - Allan P. Weisman

Tools for the Model Builder
    I have been getting e-mail requests about information on what tools are needed to build a model. Here is a picture of the basic tools required to build the framework of a model. Please note that the items shown are a representative. In other words the X-Acto Jr. knife shown might just as well be a #1 knife, and the saw shown might be a coping saw. This picture is merely to give the new modeler an idea of what is needed.
    Tools of the Trade
    The items shown are:
    PLASTIC WRAP: To cover and protect plans.
    T-PINS: To pin parts down.
    SANDING BLOCK: For clean up work, final shaping of nose block, and preparing for finishing.
    PUSH PINS: To pin plan and plastic wrap to building board.
    RAZOR BLADES: For cutting wood in straight lines.
    SAW: For rough shaping of nose blocks.
    TWEEZERS: For handling small parts.
    MODELING KNIFE: For cutting curved surfaces.
    HAND DRILL: For drilling out hole in nose block for prop bearing.
    PLIERS: For shaping landing gear wire.
    CLAMPS: For holding parts together while glue dries.
    GLUE: For gluing parts together.

    - Allan P. Weisman
Socks for your Tissue Iron

Make your own Glue Clamps
Covering Your Plane With Tissue
    Making the panel lines on models can be difficult if you don't know how to do it. Here are some of the easiest ways to do it:
    Some people like using pens and pencils to draw the panel lines. Round fuselages are the easiest to deal with, wind up the motor, hold the pen firmly extended, and while holding the prop carefully bring the spinning fuselage up against the pen. Just kidding, I found making a couple of plastic straight edges from .005 plastic to work good. Some of these are short, some long, some with rounded or square ends. Clear is nice because it allows you to pick up your location. Get a very soft artist pencil, these leave a nice dark mark without damaging the tissue, use these for your reference points when you are ready for inking.
    Another thing that has worked equally well for me is to enlarge a good, detailed three view to the size of my model. I cut out the various lines and features that I want to mark. Take your copy with the cutouts, make a few extra holes in the copy for catching reference points such as trailing and leading edges on the wing to be marked and then fold the paper over the edges. Lightly grip the structure with the pattern over it and start following the lines you cut. This is great for some of the wild WWII landing gear outlines. Sometimes I will make a little tick for continuing a line that will cross over an open space. This will be completed with one of the plastic rules after I remove the copy paper pattern.
    And yet another method is using a combination of post-its and 8010 magic removable tape to mask the lines and airbrush your markings on, my favorite, but time doesn't always allow for this.
    The easiest and most forgivable that I know of was taught to me by Paul Boyanowski. He would take this adhesive film tape, adhere black tissue to it, cut thin strips, remove the backing and apply. This allows for you to carefully position it as you go along. I modified it by using the glue stick in place of the tape and finish with a layer of clear Krylon.
    To each his own but I rarely, as in glues, use only one technique on a model. A final spray of the Krylon clear provides an even overall appearance. Have fun.
    - Dave Niedzielski

Rubber Motors
    Hi, I'll try to give you a real short version of my Hi Gumbandery piece that appeared in both the Flying Aces & the Famous Cloudbusters newsletter called "Twice Twisting Tan II".
    Here goes, Once you've decided the cross section you need, make up a motor that is twice as long and has one half the section. If it's a small motor, 1 or 2 strands, tie a 1" loop at each end of the big loop. If it's a larger motor, serve a small loop at each end with a small rubber band wrapping. Then, lube it. Then secure one end and put in 4-5 turns per inch winding in the same, I repeat the same, direction you wind in when flying. Then, bring the two small loops together and serve them together with a small rubber band. Then, "milk" the doubled over rubber until it forms into a straight braided motor. The two smaller loops will be relaxed, not twisted and will be easy to work with. On a smaller motor you can then insert a 1/2" piece of a large plastic straw into the doubled over end which would go into the rear of the model, the rear motor peg goes through the straw. On larger motors use a section from a ball point pen cap, it's stronger. You can use a motor 2 1/2 times the prop hook/rear motor peg distance with this method. Stretch wind in your turns, then just hold the model and be amazed as the rubber motor unwinds and bunches up in a series of twisted knots. When all the torque turns are out of the model, when the prop stops turning, there will still be considerable tension on the motor. It will not shift around and mess up the CG. No fancy stops needed. If you are free wheeling, you'll need a latch type free wheeler as the simple spiral catch won't work, there is too much tension for it. After the motor has unwound, you can grab the nose block and pull it forward and the bunched up motor will release about 50 turns and the motor will again hang out past the front of the model. Thank Andy MacIsaac and Don Srull for this great and simple method of braiding. No more need to have a tight large section motor peg to peg. You can extend it way beyond the length of the fuselage, calm down the climb, and extend the motor run, especially on unlimited's and old timers. Have fun.
    - Ralph D. Kuenz
Making Your Own Propellers George White made the jigs seen below so that he could make his own propellers.
General Model Building Tips General Model Building Tips
If you want to form your own props George White now recommends the Prop Forming Data Pack available at the Flying Aces Club web site. According to George the method described is a more accurate and scientific approach than the jigs he made. It can be found at http://www.flyingacesclub.net/volare/modules.php?op=modload&name=CCart&id=2

Here is the old fashioned way to carve a propeller. Some still do it this way, particularly when building a model for display.
Making a Prop

How to Make Laminated Props

More Ideas for Building with a Magnetic Building Board and Magnets
Below are some photos by Steve Kranish demonstrating some ways to build with magnets. Click here for a review of the Magna-Board™.
Build with Magnets Build with Magnets
Build with Magnets Build with Magnets
Build with Magnets Build with Magnets
Build with Magnets Build with Magnets
Build with Magnets


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