Saturday, 28 April 2012

Taking the Biscuit....Literally!


If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes!

Well I never! Just when I think I am back in a sensible frame of mind with some definite projects I can progress with and complete something comes in from the left field to upset the proverbial apple cart. I am talking about biscuits - and not the edible variety either. I mentioned in my previous post that I was visiting the local timber yard for the wood for the frame of my folding 6ft by 4ft gaming table. This was duly obtained (at a cost of £7.50 for the three 14 ft lengths) and as I was waiting to pay the man my eye was drawn to a bag of shapes hanging above the counter. These shapes were roughly 2 1/2" long and in a rough oval shape. My first thought was - ship hull shapes! The shapes are called biscuits and are used in biscuit joints (where dowel pegs used to be used) for joining panels and such like. The idea is that a hole is cut into either piece of wood requiring joining  and the biscuit is placed in between and glued. The biscuits are made from wood and designed to expand when in contact with PVA, thereby filling the join. My subsequent research has shown they are available in different sizes (from around 3" downwards) and appear to have a width equal to just under a third of the length and usually with a pattern embossed on them - this is to provide a 'key' for the glue to adhere to. Cost wise you could probably get a bag of a hundred or so for around the £6 to £8 level.

So what has this got to do with anything?

Well, the shape is virtually ideal for the basis of a ship model although I suspect they will need to have some work on them before use. I would have to see what effect PVA has on them when used as either a sealant or to assemble a model with. The embossing present could probably be filed smooth - at least for the areas of the ships deck that are exposed. They are quite thin but I reckon that they could be doubled up is need be. The sides would need to be sealed as they are not smooth and the plywood effect is quite noticeable. I would suspect that one end of the shape would have to be sharpened to get that pointed bow effect

I am quite excited about this because it could be the answer to the problem of uniform hull shapes and the cost is such that they will certainly not break the budget. I intend acquiring some of these to experiment with and will of course post the results on the blog in due course.

14 comments:

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

David,

What a wonderful idea! I would never have thought of using woodworking biscuits to make model ship hulls ... but it is truly inspirational.

All the best,

Bob

David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

I was gobsmacked when I saw these and will certainly be getting some to experiment with. I must confess to never having heard of a biscuit joint before but I am very pleased I have done so now.

I think depending on the type of biscuit used they will need some careful treatment but there is nothing unduly onerous in that. Wooden models usually need sealing before painting anyway.

Of course it does mean smaller models I suspect.

All the best,

DC

PS The first model I attempt will undoubtedly be a Garibaldi class cruiser....:-)

Phil Broeders said...

Great idea! I'm going down the timber yard tomorrow!

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Clever fellow!

David Crook said...

Hi Phil,

Let me know how you get on - I believe there are three main sizes so there should enough variety for most types - I hope!

All the best,

DC

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

I am only sorry I didn't think of his before! It will be interesting to see if it works out OK.

All the best,

DC

SAROE said...

Good luck! One of the local guys tried this several years ago, it didn't really work very well or look good. Maybe due to the expansion quality. I only saw him put them into action once. I thought about mentioning it when you started with the wood boats, but what you were doing was so much better. Hopefully, you'll have better results. Sorry to be a downer. Just thought you should know it might not be that easy.

David Crook said...

Hi SAROE,

I will have a play around with a few samples and see what comes out. I am visiting my joiner on Tuesday so will see if he has any going spare that I could 'borrow' to experiment with. they may not be the answer but could be of some use - I guess it is seeing if the game is worth the candle in the first instance.

Many thanks for your comment re the wooden models I have built thus far - I feel very much like another ship building splurge may be due!

All the best,

DC

Peter Douglas said...

David

I've used said biscuits for their intended purposes - I took a wood working course years back and used biscuits to join slats to make a table top. I'd never thought of using them for modelling, but as soon as I saw your picture the light went on.

Looking forward to seeing results. And yes I'd say a Garibaldi is exactly the right shape for these.

Cheers

PD

David Crook said...

Hi Peter,

It may work out or it may not - but I have just got to give it a try! They are certainly cheap enough to experiment with. I think the trick will be to make sure you can get a suitably smooth finish without using PVA. My thinking at the moment is to seal them with Rustoleum.

We shall see and happy to switch the light on!

All the best,

DC

MurdocK said...

Always 'defocus' your eyes from what IS to what CAN BE for games purposes.

The biscuits are often seen as cavalry bases. I have seen others that are less oval (more circular) being used as other unit bases.

Certainly cheaper than specialty cut MDF.

Sometimes it can be useful to go thru a hardware store with such 'defocussed' eyes and see only what 'games support' any item could have. Make an afternoon of it while your wife is out shopping for her fave's!

David Crook said...

Hi MurdocK,

Absolutely right re the cut MDF - I got some quotes for similar items and it would have been cheaper to buy 1/3000th models and have done with it!

I think most gamers develop a 6th sense around using materials from the most unexpected sources in ways the manufacturers would never have dreamed of!

All the best,

DC

A Heart Pumping Nitro said...

The shapes are interesting and I think could be used for a variety of eras. I'm new to this site so I'm not sure what eras you enjoy playing. So here goes with some general ideas.
Ancients: keep them the same shape as the triremes of the era were tear dropped. Tooth picks could make the oars and mast. Half a tooth pick could be stuck into a foam core base to simulate the oars being in the water.
Age of sale cut the ends off a biscuit to create the fore and aft castles as desired then cut the aft tip off after gluing these two pieces in place. Rigging of tooth picks.
Ironclads and later: could be created using dowel for turrets and toothpick (those keep coming up) for gun barrels.
This was all probably pretty obvious but I wanted to through out some ideas I brain stormed just from reading your post.

David Crook said...

Hi 'AHPN',

They are some really good ideas and you will not be surprised that ALL of them will be useful! Many thanks for the brainstorm - watch this space as I will probably do something based on them!

All the best,

DC