Andy’s Little Lumber Store

I’ve spoken of some of Andy’s products in the past – a number of design templates provided by downloadable PDF as an alternative to computer design packages such as Google Sketchup.  His latest concept takes the design process one significant step further, away from 3D drawings and computer renderings, and back to a very traditional place – actual small scale modelling.

During the early phases of the $5 billion+ ANZAC Ship Project, the first few ships were physically modeled by a ‘small’ scale model (by small, it still filled an entire room!)  During the build of the first few ships, it was common for the fitters to head into the model room, and measure lengths and angles of the pipe they are constructing in scale, and create the full sized version simply from those measurements.  I don’t remember how much the model was worth – in excess of $250k at least, given the Dutch(?) expert modelmaker employed full time to keep the model up to date with the constant design changes (and being able to replicate each ship and the differences between them).  In time, TENIX moved to a suite of draughtsmen using CATIA to maintain a virtual ship model, and the actual physical one was retired.  As much as I know that for something as complex as a ship it was cost effective to have a computer model rather than a physical one, I know a lot of the fitters who lamented the loss of access to the physical one.  One thing they could do with the physical model was to take the item they wanted to fit into the ship and actually work it through the model to see how to twist and turn it to get it into the required compartment.  But progress rules, and computer modelling is always superior to physical modelling.  Right?

Being able to create an item first in model form is a powerful tool – testing the initial design, construction methods and forms required before having to scale the project (and the associated costs) up to full size.

Little Lumber

What Andy has come up with is a “Little Shop of Timber” (Feed me Seymour – if you can get my vague movie reference!) – scale wood lumber in 1/10th scale to the typically sized DAR timber.  You can scale-build your project, checking fit, material sizes, and overall design ideas.  How many times have you built a project, and either had a change of mind/design partway through requiring rework, or gotten to the end saying that you are satisfied, but would do it differently/better next time? Having the first build done in scale provides an extra opportunity to iron out those design issues.

There are a couple of starter kits, one for indoor projects, one for outdoor, and then a general lumber store where you can order all the different sizes as required.  The timber is primarily basswood (see here for a comparison of basswood vs balsa for modelling), plus plywood panels (in scale of course!)

Example of a 1/10 Model Bench

I have one of each kit, and my intention is two-fold.  Build a scale model of the workshop (which I need for planning layout optimisations (I used to have a cardboard scale model for that purpose)), and then use the indoor kit to conduct a test design and build of a workbench.

The indoor kit consists of 6-1×6, 12-2×4, 6-1×4, 6-1×12 and 2 plywood panels.

The outdoor kit consists of 24-2×4, 6-2×6, 6-4×4 and 4 plywood panels.

2x4

1x12

In each kit, it includes a scale ruler, plywood template and PDF wood calculator

PDF Calculator

When joining the project up, I’m sure it isn’t necessary to go as far as miniature dovetail joints etc (unless you are a masochist!)  – a hot glue gun should normally suffice!

The way things are going, I guess it is just a matter of “Watch this Space” to see what Andy and his EZ Woodshop comes up with next!

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