USS Constitution – Hull – Diorama 1

With the hull installed in the base, I began to create the shipyard scene on the unfinished, port, side of the hull.

I wanted to show many of the activities that might happen in a ship yard of the late 18th century.  To do this, I had to compact some of these to fit in available space, and I also included activities that might not have happened simultaneously, but rather in linear stages as the hull was constructed.

The activities I chose to include are the following:

  • timber/lumber sawing – pit and platform sawing, crosscut sawing
  • timber squaring, adze work to shape curved timbers
  • planking hull – drilling holes for iron bolts, installing trennels
  • lathe turning – spindle turning, turning of deadeyes
  • black-smithing, iron forging, charcoal making
  • using crane to hoist timber onto hull
  • final fitting and carpentry on interior of hull

I started by building a shed to protect the two pit saws from the weather.  The pits were made up from small stones glued to mat-board, then installed into holes cut into the higher end of the base, near the bow of the hull.  I then built the shed as a pole barn with open sides and made it high enough to provide lumber storage on a second level.

The figures were made up from Sculpey(TM) polymer clay.  I collected fallen branches and twigs on daily walks through the neighborhood to use for modeling timber and to saw with band saw to make lumber.  I also collected moss and lichen for later use in scenery.

I modeled one pit actively sawing, the second pausing to off load cut planks.  Once the shed was completed, I glued it to the base and then used latex wood filler to model the ground around the pits.

Early on, it looked like this.

Next, I went to the other end of the base and built up a bit of ground to install the “smithy”.  I wanted to place the two structures at each end first, to better gauge the room I had for additional activities.

The smithy forge and chimney was built from small wood blocks glued to mat board, then painted.  The whole thing was built on a small piece of mat board, which was then glued to plywood for mounting to the base.

Forge in process.

Once the timber framing of the smithy was done and walls added, I made up the bellows and a couple black smiths as well as anvils and tools to hang on the wall.



Here the interior is nearly complete.  The mat board is ready to glue to plywood, which is then elevated on some small blocks to raise it above the level of the ways and to about the same height as the opposite end of the base.


Here the smithy is fastened to the corner of the base and the ground around it modeled with wood filler.  There is a line of pilings along the edge of the banking.  Also, there are some shelves beside the forge area to hold metal stock.

Another shot of the interior of the smithy with the smiths working on the iron work for deadeyes.



Once I had the two shed structures at the corners, I next build the scaffolding along the hull.  This was made from twigs lashed together.  I did this next to see how much room it would require and how much room I would therefore have left for the activities I wanted to model.

I first glued upright large pieces to the base.  Once the first group was in, I added horizontal and diagonal bracing.  Note that several of the uprights are taller, to form the crane to be added later.


Here are shots of the first row of uprights, then some of the additional rows of uprights, the horizontal and diagonal bracing members.

Note the large stockpile of twigs.

Once the scaffolding was roughed in, I modeled the ground with wood filler.