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Whittling and Modern Model Making

December 21, 2016

As if I'm not busy enough with the professional model making business, keeping updated and learning the latest technology like CAD/CAM software, laser cutting and engraving, 3D printing, converting my mill and lathe to CNC, learning additional technology to enhance the models, miniatures, shadowboxes and dioramas, such as, Projection Mapping, Computer Generated Imagery, Virtual and Augmented Reality, video, audio and motion, controlled by microprocessors like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi,  constantly adding content to my website, all the social media, now I need to have a Blog for SEO, blah, blah, blah.

 

I long for a simpler time, when I could just work with my hands and create something unique, something from a block of wood and whittle it down to what I wanted it to be, hopefully without cutting myself and bleeding out. It was called workmanship, craftsmanship, being an artisan. A time before the days of creating something in CAD and pressing Go/Start on the laser cutter, CNC mill and lathe or 3D printer. It is not that I don't appreciate the quickness and precision of the modern tools of model making, but except for the differences of the CAD Designer in creating the file, the same thing will be created by anyone that presses the Go/Start button.

 

When I was a young boy, my Dad gave me a pocket knife as a present. He "gave" it to me, but he would not let me have it, not until I learned how to appreciate it and use it correctly. My Dad would show me how to whittle, to carve the wood, keeping the knife moving away from the body, hands and fingers. How to cut the wood with the grain, not against it. I still remember what he taught me and I use it today. I carved a hand grenade out of a chunk of 4 X 4 post. I still hadn't learned about the different species of wood like balsa or basswood, a softwood, easy to carve. I just picked up whatever free wood I could find. I did a lot of whittling in the Boy Scouts on camping trips and it made great kindling for the campfire.

 

 

I bring this up, because I was able to do some whittling and carving on my last model making job. Sure, I still used the modern tools on the Offshore Supply Vessel, but I was able to take some time and remove everything that wasn't a rescue boat with a knife by hand. I didn't use wood, but Renshape, a urethane substitute with no grain, but still, it was like the old days. The days when my Dad taught me to whittle. Thanks Dad.

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About

I built my first model when I was 6 years old. Unbeknownst to me, the kit box had been opened and the instruction sheet and decals were missing. It didn't matter. I had to have a model of the jet that flew over my house as it approached for landing at the Naval Air Station. I built it and painted the markings using the raised decal locator lines. It was messy, but it was mine. And I have had a passion for model making and thinking "Outside the box" ever since.

I was influenced by the film, Star Wars. I liked movies and I liked model building. I had to find a way to combine both into a career. I worked my way through college as a self-employed professional model maker, building architectural and engineering models.

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