HMS Beagle Model Ship Project
Week One: Finding the wood (October 18-24, 2010)
As I said in the intro, the goal is to make a fun, working model of the HMS Beagle, with radio controls for her rudder, sails and some cool extras. Having no experience in any of the above, I started small by buying some balsawood blocks and a cheap X-acto woodcarving set.
After deciding on the scale of 1:36 I hand carved out the hulls of two whale boats using my trusty buck knife and X-acto tool. The Beagle carried seven boats onboard so lots of boat making in my future.
Happy with the progress I began to look around for a large log to carve the hull from, preferably oak. After difficulty finding a suitable one I decide to use the bread and butter method of gluing several 8 inch wide oak boards together.
Then the gods intervened with a massive storm in Indianapolis that knocked over the beautiful pear tree in the front yard of the Humane Society, where I volunteer. Having walked many dogs underneath that tree (including several Beagles!) the staff were more than happy to let me have what I wanted. The research book "Historical Ship Models" described pear as "one of the ideal timbers for period shipbuilding."
I began to hand carve a beautiful three foot section of the thickest limb with my old hand axe and a new chisel and rubber mallet. Over the course of several days I made a lot of yummy pear-scented mulch and the hull started to take shape.
Because of the width of the tree limb I considered downsizing my build ratio from 1:36 to about 1:40, since the tree only had a maximum width of seven inches instead of the needed eight. But as the hull started to take form there was an extra couple of inches at the stern that I didn't really want to get rid of, so I opted to keep the 1:36 ratio length and make my Beagle a little thinner than the historical ship. (The Cherokee-class brigs always looked a bit pudgy anyway, so think of her as a "Stretch Beagle".)