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Info on making sails out of wood

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Forum topic by JVallario posted 06-26-2010 03:08 PM 1716 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


06-26-2010 03:08 PM

Been searching the net on how to make wood sails for a model sailboat. Not the mast but the normally cloth sail portion. Just a standard sail shape but contured as if it is full of wind. Anyone have information on doing this? My bandsaw is only a 10” so trying to shape it on that would be an issue. Any help would be appreciated.

-- John


27 replies so far

View terrilynne's profile

terrilynne

834 posts in 2354 days


#1 posted 06-26-2010 03:20 PM

Try shaping it with a drum sander like we do in intarsia. You would be surprised of the detail you can get.

-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

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m88k

83 posts in 2412 days


#2 posted 06-26-2010 03:38 PM

How big of a model? I’d consider strip-building to achieve the compound curve if you’re having trouble, but Terri has got the right plan. Might use basswood or something else that is easily shaped.

Option #2: Make a thin slice of sail with your bandsaw and steam-bend it to a form. I’d say this is the way to go if you want to show off that the sails are wood, whereas the carved/sanded basswood would likely be more subtle.

-- ~Mark

View Paul2274's profile

Paul2274

330 posts in 2572 days


#3 posted 06-26-2010 05:29 PM

I’m with Mark on option #2.

I’ve done some steam bending. Best to use a slightly softer wood as hardwoods, unless sliced very thin, are harder to bend and sometimes they tend to crack or split.

If you cut a piece thin enough you might be able to place in a veggie steamer for 30 mins or so, check after that to pliability, then have a mold in the shape you want and press it. One suggestion though… make the curve of the sail a little more “drastic” or pronounced then your final shape to allow for “flex-back” of the wood as it dries. The wood will try to return to it’s original shape so over compensate the curve so when it dries it will be the shape you want.

Would love to see the ship when you are done. I love model ships and all the details.

Paul

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m88k

83 posts in 2412 days


#4 posted 06-26-2010 06:08 PM

There are lots of lists available online of woods that favor steam bending; maple looks like a big no-no. I love the idea of some well-figured walnut sails. I’d be interested in trying it myself if I didn’t have a dozen other projects to complete.

-- ~Mark

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JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


#5 posted 06-27-2010 12:32 AM

Thanks for the responses – I’m thinking of a boat 12-14 inches long – nothing too fancy. I don’t have a drum sander but may be able to plane down something thin enough by attaching it to a thicker pc with double sided tape? I’ll have to think on bending as I havent tried it.

I think my major problem with woodworking is that I never do anything twice – every project is whole new experience. Perhaps I should plan on making at least 2 of everything?

-- John

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Sailor

543 posts in 2725 days


#6 posted 06-27-2010 12:56 AM

I say sand it. Depending on how accurate you want your model to be.

As my name implies, I have been on a sailboat or two but that doesn’t mean I know how to make a sail out of wood. I have made a sailboat out of wood (8’ dinghy) but the sail I sewed out of dacron.

To get a really good shape, I say look at some photos and go to town with your sander on a scrap block. Shouldn’t take to long if you aren’t using a very hard wood.

-- Dothan, Alabama Check out my woodworking blog! http://woodworkingtrip.blogspot.com/ Also my Youtube Channel's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SailingAndSuch

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fussy

980 posts in 2511 days


#7 posted 06-27-2010 05:25 AM

You might think about hot pipe bending. Stringed instrument makers do it and get some amazing shapes. I have watched the late Homer Ledford bend sides for his dulcimers, violins and guitars. Just heated it on the pipe a few seconds, bent it where he wanted it to go, reheated as needed and made it look easy. You can find a sort of tutorial at www.finewoodworking.com. Just type hot pipe bending in the search.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View JVallario's profile

JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


#8 posted 06-27-2010 07:08 AM

Sailor/Dothan – I’ve been thinking about sanding – an angle grinder might be better but I dont have one so I may give it a try with a hand held belt sander.

fussy/Steve – I watched the videos on hot pipe bending – very interesting stuff. Not sure how it would work for what I’m after (3 straight edges with a concave interior, but good info non the less.

-- John

View wseand's profile

wseand

2754 posts in 2502 days


#9 posted 06-27-2010 11:38 AM

Have you tried using a veneer, there are different thicknesses. Woodworking source sell in small pack they are 1/42” you could steam those and then shape. If needed you could sand them thinner. You could make the shape out of a foam block than hold it in place I think many use a vacuum seal plastic bag to hold the form. Or find another way to hold the form.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

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JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


#10 posted 06-27-2010 05:57 PM

DaveR – thanks for the education. Having only been on a sailboat once in my life I’m fairly ignorant of the terms but I did look them up after seeing your reply. I haven’t made any firm decisions on the wood type yet – I know the norm would be a light or blond wood with vertical grain but part of me is thinking of horizontal grain to give it a “windy” feel if you know what I mean. Right now I believe I’ll do the first run at the hull with redwood – which I have a bunch of laying around. I may try the sail in some pine or poplar I have for the test pcs. Once I can get the process down I’ll decide on the wood for the final design.

-- John

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JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


#11 posted 06-28-2010 02:19 AM

Well I gave this a shot today. Used 3/4” redwood and the end portion of my belt / disk sander. Tried the hand held belt sander but it was too hard to hold steady. The conclusion is this will work though it is a lot of sanding. Definitely had to use the goggles and dust mask. The wood wasn’t thick enough to make a decently curved leech and it also delveloped 2 cracks – one on each side. I’m thinking 6/4 lumber would be enough to get bow and curve I’m looking for.

-- John

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JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


#12 posted 06-28-2010 05:44 PM

Here are some phone pics of the first attempt. I only have redwood and oak in the shop now that is thick enough for the second at

tempt.

-- John

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JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


#13 posted 06-28-2010 05:45 PM

-- John

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m88k

83 posts in 2412 days


#14 posted 06-30-2010 01:47 AM

Another thought for bending; if the compound curve is your concern, you could try using woven veneer to make the sail. Saw a couple videos where they were making massive amounts of veneer “cloth” to make the outer skin of a wooden supercar.

-- ~Mark

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JVallario

76 posts in 2611 days


#15 posted 06-30-2010 03:52 PM

Mark – I did some searching on woven veneer as I hadn’t heard of it before. Most of the images I saw did not have the continous grain pattern I would like. The car looked very cool though. DaveR and I have been brainstorming some ideas offline. If we come up with something worthwhile I will post it here for anyone interested.

-- John

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