My Workbench

Friday, April 13, 2018

Making Sails for Wargaming Ship Models

I am going to divide this post into three parts

I: Making & Dressing Ship Sails
II: Making Brass Sails
III: Making Sails for a Cutter

The most important tool I use for starting scratch built masts or sails is the Mast Log I created.

In this Mast log I have recorded the lengths of masts from every size and type of ship I have purchased. In addition I have traced most of the sail sets from Langton Miniatures, GHQ and several from Davco.

When I want to make a set of sails I flip the log open to the sails for the size ship I want and use a small sheet of old fashioned carbon paper to trace the sails onto a sheet of heavy bond sketch paper.

I: Making & Dressing Ship Sails

For full sail rigs I like to cut the sails out in blocks so I can keep them straight. Sometimes, when I have to stop working and come back later, I will store them in small zip-lock  bags marked with what mast they go to.

Next step is cut the sails out then give them the proper shape. I do this by applying Elmers white glue (PVA) to a smooth surface cylindrical object like a marker pen or Xacto knife handle then press the sail onto the glue in the proper orientation to form a curve.

After the sails and glue dry they will pop off fairly easy as long as the marker surface was clean. And this is what you get:

At this point I measure across the top of the sails plus a bit of overhang on each side then mark it out on a length .015 or .020 gauge music wire I purchase at Hobby Lobby.

Super glue does a good job of affixing the new spars to the new sails. After the sails have been painted and dried, single rows of window screen mesh are cut and glued to the larger sails for reef points.

Then I start tying on the leech lines. These will be used later to tie onto the masts.

Sometimes I will just use a colored pen to add in the reefs and leeches. I will do it that way when I make single piece sail sets like the picture below.

After painting the spars it is time to attach the sails to the masts. I always start with the mizzen mast, working bottom to top, then forward to the next mast.

As shown the leech lines are wrapped around the mast and tied with a drop of super glue.

Ship with full sail compliment

II: Making Brass Sails

I use thin brass shim sheeting you can buy in rolls for about $4 to $6 just about anywhere from Walmart to Lowes. A little more expensive at auto shops. The sails are traced out the same way as with the paper, then cut out.

After shaping the sails over a marble, details like the reef points are added the same way with single rows of window screen.

Prime with black primer, measure and cut spars. Attach with super glue.

A finished ship with scratch brass sails

III: Making Sails for a Cutter

Sails traced for two cutters

Shaping the sails

Dressing the sails. Adding the reef points

That is all there is to it


Brent said...

Thanks for the tutorials! The sails are simply beautiful - great job.

A Miniatures Hobby Room said...

Thanks Brent

Stew said...

Nice post, very helpful for scratch made sails. I’ve been using the white metal sails so far as the brass sails seemed intimidating.

Interesting that you put the masts to the hull and then attach the sails. I might consider that.

A Miniatures Hobby Room said...

"Interesting that you put the masts to the hull and then attach the sails"

Stew that just seems the easiest way for me to attach them and orient them to the wind from starboard or port or dead astern to match the wave pattern on the base I made.