Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Fly Cutter

I recently completed a ship from The Story of Sail by Richard Woodman and Veres Laszlo.  The Fly was a ship purchased in 1763 by commissioned by the British Navy to catch smugglers on the English Channel. The large sails made her able to move swiftly in light winds.  I would post a picture of the plans but I really don't want to infringe on any copy rights.  I do however highly suggest you check out the book Story of Sail. It has a over a thousand plans and great ideas from the beginning of sailing history to modern day.

I used a couple of new techniques on this one first of which was how I created the hull.  Usually I carve the hull from a solid piece of wood but this time I tried an idea from David Luna de Carvalho.  Check out his blog here.

I first made a copy of the plans out of the Story of Sail and glued them onto pieces of cardboard.  I would have used wood but I didn't have enough at the time.  I glued the pieces of cardboard onto a wooden keel and this is what I got.

I then used match sticks to plank the hull like what was done on the real ship.  The trick is using an exacto knife to cut the match sticks thin.  Then soak them in water so they become pliable.  Once they started bending pretty well I glued them to the card board.  After I got the planking was done I cut out the middle of the card board and planked the deck.  

After getting the deck in I added the masts and deck details.  At first I planned on using a helm but David pointed out that cutters have tillers so I later changed it out.  Helps to have friends that know what their doing.

The other new technique I used is called thread blocking.  Since it's impossible to find block and tackle small enough for a ship of this scale thread blocks are created to act as such.  It's hard to explain how to do this with out being able to see it.  Luckily John Fox III created a great video that shows how to make them and how they work.  I was going to embed the video but it's on Vimeo and wouldn't cooperate.  See it by clicking this link.

Notice the long boat from my other post.  Ready the Longboats!

I used thread blocks on the bow and to rig the gaff and boom to the main mast.  I ran the gaff and boom line out the side of the hull.  This allowed me to put the rear sail into the bottle first.  Once the mast was up I tightened the lines pulling the boom and gaff onto the mast.  It sounds simple enough in theory but it took an hour to do just that.  In total it took three hours to get this ship set up in the bottle.  The final result was well worth it.

I wish I could show more but I sometimes get too involved building to take pictures.  Thank you for reading!  


  1. AMAZING!! Thanks for sharing all this. I've ALWAYS wondered how they got those ships into the bottles!!

  2. Hey I figured out how the comments work. Thanks I'm very glad you enjoyed it.