Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beginners Schooner

When I first started this blog I posted instructions for a simple schooner.  I'll be honest.  I didn't know much about ship bottling then.  I probably still don't in comparison to others I associate with.  Since then though I've come a long way.  I have created a new simple schooner that reflects easier and better techniques then the first.  This one was created for a children's class I taught at a Jefferson County Library.  Download the plans by clicking the link.

 To get the supplies for the schooner you'll need to run to your local craft and grocery store.  Pick up the following.

Bass wood - as close to the dimensions on the plans as you can.
 Sketch Paper
24 gauge wire
Blue Construction Paper
Sauce Bottle
Paint, Crayons, Colored Pencils - what ever you want to use to add some color.
White Glue

If your starting completely from scratch you will need the following tools.

Small Saw
Sand Paper
#60 drill bit
Wire Cutters

Now your ready to begin.  Start by cutting your wood to size.  It doesn't have to be exact but try for a 3/4" x 3/8" x 2 1/5" block.  Then cut out a diagonal line into the bow and stern.  These don't have to be exact either.  You can cut them close to what the plans show or try different angles for some customization.

Next sand it down.  Make the wood nice and smooth and round out the edges a little bit.

Once the sanding is done it's time to add the deck house.  Cut out a 1/8" x 5/8" x 3/8" block and sand it smooth.  Then glue it just in front of the middle of the ship.  See the plans for reference.  Now you can color the ship any way you like.

Get out your drill and #60 drill bit and drill six holes as indicated.  The important thing to remember is to drill the two holes on the left and right side of the ship well behind the holes drilled for the mast.

Now time for the masts.  Get out your toothpicks use one to clean your teach or to look cool and two more for the masts.  Check them out first you want a good thick solid tooth pick.  Cut them to size for the mast and the boom and drill holes in the end of the boom and two holes in the mast according to the plans.

Once the holes are drilled you can set the mast.  Get the 24 gauge wire and cut off piece about an inch long.  Push this piece of wire into the hole in the bottom of the mast.  Center it then fold it down either side of the mast.  This will make the hinge that will allow the mast to fold up and down.

Insert the wire into the holes for the mast.  It will be a bit long but that's okay.  Now cut off small pieces of the wire bit by bit until the mast just touches the ship.  If you go to far that's fine it can still work.  It's just easier to get it just right.  Once your there dip the wire in glue and put it in the holes.

Once the glue dries you can attach the boom.  Put the thread through the hole in the boom around the mast and tie it down.  You'll want to leave a little bit of wiggle room so the boom can fold with the mast.

To tie the back stays push the thread through a hole in one side of the ship and tie it down.  Then push the thread through the hole in the middle of the masts and through the hole in the other side of the ship.  Now the tricky part.  Tie a loose knot around the hole on the side of the ship.  With one hand hold the mast upright and with the other pull the knot tight.  It is very important that when the mast is pulled tight against the back stays that it is straight up and down.

The forward stay is then tied to the top of the mast and threaded through the hole in the bow.  Leave enough of this line so that it can run out of the bottle neck.  You will use it later to pull the mast up once the ships in the bottle.

The boom will need to be tied down so that it it's straight.  Tie a line from the top of the mast to the end of the boom to hold it straight.  Then tie a line from the end of the boom to the hole in the stern so that when the mast is upright the boom is held tight.  Your almost there.  

Color the sails before gluing them onto the boat.  To get a nice wind filled look pull the sails between a pen and your thumb.  This will give them a nice curve and make the sails look like they are full of wind.  Glue the main sail onto the mast and then glue the other end to the boom.  Fold the jib sail over and glue it to the forward stay.  Be careful that the line is not glued down to the boat yet.  You want the sails to be able to fold back to get the ship in the bottle.

Color a larger piece of paper blue to represent the sea.  This will have to be measured carefully against the bottle you are using.  If your bottles round make sure it' thin so it doesn't obstruct the view of the hull once in the bottle.  Now she's ready to go inside.

Funny anecdote on this part.  When I did this project for one of the Jefferson County Libraries I helped ten kids put these in bottles.  Some parents dropped the kids off and then left to do other things.  When they got back they asked their kids how they got the ship into the bottle.  Their kids told them,  "We can't tell you it's a secret."

Well here is the big secret.  Carefully fold the mast back against the hull.  You will have to take care not to crinkle the sail.  Push the ship though the bottle neck and into the bottle.  Once inside use a stiff wire like a coat hanger to hold the ship still while you pull the line running out the bottle to pull the mast up.  Once you get the mast up and looking correct let it loosen a little and put a dab of glue onto the line just above the hole in the bow.  Then pull that line tight.  This will pull the glue into the hole and glue down the line.  Hold it tight until the glue dries then cut the line with a long thin pair of scissors.  Try to gut it as close to the bottom of the bow as you can.  If you use super glue wait five minutes before putting the cap on the bottle.  The vapors from the glue can cause fogging.  

You've done it!  The ship is in the bottle.  

 This little ship is actually my wife's first (and only so far) ship in bottle.  She did all the coloring and knot tying.  I had her help me in preparation for the kids class at the library.  For those that would like to try a similar project I'll throw in a few words of advice.

Don't worry about whether or not the kids can tie these little knots.  They will surprise you with what their little fingers can do.  Most tied knots better then I can.

If your doing this for a group of kids teach the adults helping how the entire process works before hand.  This is a craft that will easily descend into chaos if you don't have enough help.  The more that know how it works the smoother things will go.

If you want to get pictures of the kids to post on a website or other media bring consent forms.  This is a rule I didn't think about with the class I did so I don't have any pictures of it.

That's it.  Thanks for reading and good luck on your next Ship in Bottle.      


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