Captain’s log: Friday, September 18th.
Construction of the new 1/350 Starfish project is well underway. Pic 01 shows the basics of what I start a project with, that is to say the original line-art, same-size diagrams, some blocks of modeling board, resin-cast blanks for turning the round parts, and some basic tools. The upper and lower forward hull will require some fairly big blocks to machine from, and of course those will need to be squared.
Which brings us to pic 02. Thankfully, my cross-slide table is long enough to accomodate such large pieces; otherwise, I’d have to mill two or three smaller blocks and bond them together. I try to crate assemblies in one piece as much as possible, if only to save time. These blocks will need to be properly squared and prepared for the next stage.
Pic 03: with the modeling board blocks milled perfectly square, I can now affix the paper-cut plots.
Pic 04: with the templates now securely affixed, I can use the band saw to begin basic separation and initial shaping. Not being a scroll saw, I can’t get very detailed cuts for fear of damaging both the blade and the blocks, so there’s still quite a bit of extra material to be removed.
At this point, I have a few options for more refined shaping: the mill, the belt sander, the (now deceased) drill press, and the Dremel. Since I’m still at a very critical stage where I need to preserve the cross-sections, the mill wil be the tool of choice, bringing us to pic 05. While this particular step is slow and tedious, it allows me to remove material while keeping the blocks perfectly parallel. Once this step is performed properly, only a few minor square steps will remain, and then I can get the block to match the template shape with some careful hand sanding.
Pic 06: here are two basic cutters used for milling: a standard square cutter on the left, and a bull-nosed cutter on the right. The latter is better suited for concave curvatures, whereas the former is used for square cuts and some convex curvatures.
Since the mill was now thoroughly filthy, I decided to foul-up my other machine by turning some blanks used to make the thrusters. Several years ago, I made a silicone mold of some cylindrical shapes of various sizes, which I then fill with resin to make machining blanks. While resin is certainly much faster to turn than metal, it doesn’t preserve its rigidity nearly as well under heat and stress, so requires careful attention to work. Pic 07 shows the one of the main thrusters under construction.
Pic 08: it took an absurd amount of work just to get to this step! Short to describe, but long and tedious to perform. In the upper-left of the pic, you can see a piece of « discarded » filler material which was removed by the band saw earlier. Being a precious commodity for me, this scrap of modeling board will be conserved, reshaped and repurposed in due course.
Pic 09: the very early stages of construction of the belly-mounted fighter bays which will mount on the ship’s belly. The piece of modeling board between the walls is actually a template which will be used to create the semi-hexahonal shape of the container, which will be largely made with styrene.
That concludes this week’s build log. Don't forget that you have until October 12th to get your deposit in to get your kit at $300 CAD. Next week’s update will already show a significant leap forward, so stay tuned!