Hi John I carved (not much carving, more cut out the shape and sand) a Cooper T73 from 1964, using the plans from the model car magazine. It was a very basic shape, I use the resin body in the VRAA competition. Regards Nigel
I would also like to ask for advice about carving bodies. Any tips on tools, techniques, materials would be very helpful.
My attempts have not been very successful. One problem that I am aware of is that I have been carving hardwoods. So for my next attempt, I will use a soft wood such as balsa.
Another problem is symmetry, or the lack thereof. Getting the shape symmetrical is challenging. As can be seen in the photo, I've employed a number of tools. Most of the shaping is done with cutters in a rotary tool. I thought the contour gauge and the calipers would help, but I'm not sure if I am using them correctly. I guess I just need to practice.
I tried to use printed patterns. I glued the printed paper pattern onto the block of wood to rough out the basic shape. I cut out the cross-sections patterns from paper, and then held the patterns up to the body. I've also tried using the contour gauge, match the contour to the printed cross-section, and then transferring the contour to the wood.
I don't think carving bodies is rocket science. Heck, I could carve a decent Pinewood Derby car when I was 8 years old. But for some reason, I'm struggling with it now. Maybe it's just that I expect a better result now.
I see a lot of nicely carved bodies out there. I think the key is practice, but I'm wondering if I'm missing something. Anyone have any tips?
Aurora, obviously, practice is the best tool. What you have there are all the right tools, although I don't like those carving sets as the metal is usually very poor and they lose their edge quickly. Don't be tempted to go for balsa, because it is easy to damage, too soft for detail and steers the edge tools in its open grain. Stick to hardwoods with little grain and figure. Keep your edge tools razor sharp at all times or you'll slip and cut yourself. Symmetry is best done first by eye, then make templates. Get the left hand side shaped and to your liking, then make templates in 30 thou. styrene, mark where they were made to and use them to check your work on the right hand side. Make sure your templates go to the centre line exactly and sit on the datum of the bottom of the body, which should remain flat right through. Use chisels to take the bulk off, then a rasp, finer files and only very last use sandpaper. Don't use a rotary tool or you'll make way too much dust. I have just given up using Ureol block for carving because of the dust and am now using Perspex (Lucite, Plexiglass). It's harder to file, but the dust is not so fly-away as Ureol or even wood. Failing that, do it outside. Wood dust can be even more dangerous than some chemical based blocks. Mahogany is carcinogenic, Mansonia and Pau Rosa have barbed dust and pearwood makes my skin flair up with tiny blisters and these guys will tell you how much I love my steamed pearwood! But most of all, have a critical eye and preferably, don't use Walkden Fisher's crappy drawings!!
Last Edit: Feb 14, 2013 16:21:47 GMT -5 by whittler
Hi Matt, I know Martin is a master model maker and his advice should not be ignored, but as a first time carver I did several bodies out of balsa, cheap, easy to cut/sand, very quick to have a rough finished body and spot all your mistakes. The thing is, I got great encouragement from going quickly from not having any bodies, to having some bodies that actually looked like what I wanted them to. Far from perfect, but my criteria for accepting they were OK was, if scalextric offered them for sale at their usual price I would have been happy to pay for them. Walkden Fishers plans are a problem, but you still get a representation of an actual car. We know all too well that bodies made by well respected slot car companies can be out of scale or distorted, so if you do something yourself and you are happy with the result, what more can you ask. Oh and lastly, when the body is painted, especially with enamel paint they are surprisingly strong and of course very light. Give it a go. Regards Nigel
Thank you both Martin and Nigel. Conflicting advice about balsa, but it's all useful information. I still haven't found a suitable stock of balsa, so I'll continue to practice with hard wood.
Martin, your perspex carving is new to me, never thought of using that material. There are some plastic supply shops in town where I may be able to get a block of acrylic. From a quick search, it appears that the type of acrylic that is best for carving is cast, as opposed to extruded.
I've seen several criticisms of Walkden Fisher's drawings. What is wrong with them?
Post by David Lawson on Feb 18, 2013 3:55:42 GMT -5
You will always get lots of different opinions when you ask a question on a forum.
My view is have a go with the balsa carving. It costs pennies and you can produce a bodyshell in a day for some instant gratification!!
All materials have their pros and cons but you can achieve a nice result with balsa. The eye is your best tool, get a drawing of a car you like and as many reference photos as possible from all angles, then have a go. Balsa is so easy to work with that you need minimal tools - I use a model knife a junior hacksaw and a few small files, emery boards and various grades of sandpaper. As you work keep looking at the shell and the reference pictures and your eye will tell you how things are going and once you get the hang of it you won't worry about templates.
You are right it isn't rocket science it's just developing a few techniques, a bit of practice and just have fun - the worst that can happen is that you go wrong and throw away about 30 pence of balsa and start again.
I know this isn't a single-seater so shouldn't really be on this forum but the Lotus 23 was a converted Lotus Formula Junior.
This was carved in a day and while I never pretend that I produce 100% accurate bodyshells, I'm happy enough with them and I love racing them at my club and at open meetings.
Post by Mark Huber on Jun 15, 2013 16:27:33 GMT -5
I have drunk the Kool-Aid.. bought a used Mattel Vac-u-form, bought Milliput, bought balsa wood, bookmarked all of the "how to" pieces I could find on some of the other forums.. (many thanks to Mr. Lawson and Mr. Boor for most of these), so I thought I'd search for a few "How to Carve a Race Car out of Balsa Wood"
I enjoyed this bit on a Soviet fighter--(although I winced a couple of times when the fellow was carving towards his thumb):
I couldn't find anything as nifty on an F1 car, but I located a bunch of videos on building a Pinewood Derby car (aren't those supposed to be built by the Cub Scouts rather than their dads??).. oh well.