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Jan 17, 2019, 07:45 PM
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Build Log

Building and Alignment Jig, CAUTION Lasers inside!

So this is a continuation of my Building Jigs? Brainstorming... thread. My original goals have been met and exceeded! It is time for a new uncluttered thread though as the setup is well prototyped, proven, and the working version is mostly sorted out and built.

Originally Posted by BiggsDarkLighter
I have two goals. Ideally, I would like to see these combined into one setup. A building jig for bulkheads. And a setup or platform of some sort to assist with aligning hull, fin, rudder. I really don't think the two are combinable though.
A bonus added feature would be using this to build airplane wings and fuselages. Easy enough and I LOVE the concept behind Airfeild Models Magnetic Fixtures Sets: This backbone would replace the steel building board they use. The steel building board setup was almost a winning idea for this too, but this is much better for boat building.

I know, I overcomplicated it as always, but it has lasers so

Here is what I have so far. I am using 80/20 Inc aluminum extrusions for the backbone(s) and for the add-ons. I do need some more bits for the add-ons. but that is irrelevant right now. Those add-ons are the holders for the laser alignment references. I have several simple laser cross and line holders, and also a Ryobi PhoneWorks laser that lets me get everything level, and get perfect angle adjustments, like mast rake.

I went with the 80/20 system as it gives infinite adjustability and configurability. Plus it allows quick add ons of additional modules and ideas without needing to drill more holes and align things. Its nature gets you perfect angles to align to (as long as your getting CNC straight cut parts to start off with).

The end supports bars will have feet so I can quickly level the "board" or backbone. Not needed most of the time, but important when doing final setup on the boat. Remember, this is an alignment jig as well as a building one.

The "backbone" can easily be changed out for different length boats. No point in using a 70" backbone while building an RG65. Also when aligning the boat for final assembly, likely to be using a longer backbone than it was built with.

There is a lot of thought and poking about in the workshop that has gone into this. Why? I want boats built straight and aligned correctly. My RS540 I spent so much time on (my first build) has a slight side rake on the mast that is going to be a nightmare to fix . Using the prototype for this, I made and aligned the Footy Razor 3 hulls in no time. Perfectly. I was able to see, and easily correct, twist I had in one of the hulls too. While building this setup has taken a lot of effort, the time spent in it has already paid off in the time NOT spent frustrated with trying to get everything perfectly aligned.

It has been worth every bit of effort and funds that have gone into it!!! I seriously can't wait to use it on a big build, like the Dawn! Or bigger even! But the 50" Dawn will be the first one to go on it.

Yes, I could have just taken a flat wood board and screwed stuff to it, but adding lasers to that isn't fun. It takes up a good bit of time to setup, and isn't easy to move around the workshop or store when not in use. I enjoy making things, especially tools. And this will be LIGHT, portable, and not warp. Possibly too light, but if so that would be an easy fix. Best thing about this building board system is I could easily secure it to the wall out of the way when I have to use a workbench for something else during a build. So yeah that "portability" does matter to me.

I have two questions, easy one first!

1) What would be the most glue resistant finish to apply to the oak?

I am thinking along the lines of something slightly oily might work. Maybe a paraffin/linseed oil type finish where I warm them up?

2) Do I clamp the shadows, or glue them?

I don't think glueing them will win though, this should really just be asking about ideas for clamping them lol!

Alright, this is what I am getting at. If the shadows get glued to wood blocks then bolted down to the backbone, pretty simple. I would need to make up new blocks each time. Not a big deal. I should probably also make s simple jig for cutting and drilling them. Alignment will take some care during initial setup, a pain but not too bad. Durability will suffer at adjustability though. Getting the shadows perfectly perpendicular to the board would likely mean oversized holes to get the adjustment room needed.

While the above is much simpler overall, the "hard parts" get repeated every new build. Also the blocks are one time use and your either cutting the shadows off of them, or taking the shadow out while it is still attached. I am thinking if this was the route I was going to go, should have just made it on a board and deal with the shortcomings there. I am mostly leaning towards the next option, it fits in with the whole reusability of the tool concept much better.

If the shadows are clamped to the backbone, I obviously need to make some fixtures up to do so. I am thinking some angle aluminum cut to equal lengths will be the simplest option. Using anything from 80/20 Inc here will likely skyrocket additional costs, and possibly take up too much room for narrow station spacing.

I can just bolt the shadows to this, but I again loose simple adjustability of not only the centerline, but horizontal and vertical. So makes more sense to clamp between the L bracket and a flat bar, or another L bracket. The flat bar would allow me to utilize wing nuts to clamp it, so that seems the smarter choice.

With the flat bar, I can also cut some shallow slots underneath it, and make it long enough to use for rubber band building clamps. One small shortcoming I can imagine in using this building board vs a wood base.

So there are 5-7 dimensions that need to be accounted and adjusted for (depending on how you count them).

1) Height, mostly resolved by the shadows themselves and the bit added onto them for the building board. Any small adjustments needed would be taken care of with the clamping room.
2) Horizontal, adjusted along with above
3) Vertical, mostly taken care of by routing the shadow holder portion flush to the board if those are accurately made, clamps again take care of small adjustments needed
4) Centerline, dealt with when vertical adjustment is checked
5) Shadow faces 90 degree to the board, this is all in a well built jig/holder and flat shadows. It would be impossible to make a simple adjustment here. quality parts solve it anyways.
6) Twist, this is a harder one to solve, lets get back to it in a moment
7) Distance between stations. Easy, measuring tape or a dowel or something cut to length so you can set them quicker.

Twist.... The shadow faces need to be 90 degrees to the board and 90 degrees to the board centerline. This is where using specialized 80/20 parts would fix this, but GREATLY increase the cost. Probably to no longer worth it levels. I need a simple and cheap solution here. Up to this point, making the shadow clamps is easy. This part will add some complexity, but this should be done in a way it only needs to be dealt with on the first setup.

The rest of the setup can quickly be aligned with a cross laser at one end. Align laser to centerline. Place the station clamp, align shadow to crosshair, tighten. Space next station, repeat. All stations could be placed in a couple minutes that way. Not that saving a few minutes on a build that will take days to months to do matters, but whatever.

I need to see if I can find any 80/20 parts that would affordably solve this, or make some sort of side cheek bearing blocks that would keep the clamps 90 degrees to the backbone. Or maybe even simpler, make a t-square like fixture that holds the station clamp faces square until they are tightened down. Kinda like this last idea.

EDIT: Okay I actually bought the "fancier" 80/20 parts that should have solved this issue, they didn't. It is still an issue I need to work out... I will likely resort to making the alignment square fixture. Sure, just a simple square would work. But making a custom fit fixture will take less time than fiddling with a square for setting up 15 stations.

Chances are there is something out there that would solve this last issue. But it would need to be good, and cheap enough for me to justify buying 12-15, one per station. I am going to take a look at Rockler woodworking and see if they have something that would do the trick. But, an alignment square tool might just be the best and simplest solution.

I will grab a couple pictures from the old thread, but no new ones just yet. I have a ton of parts already on hand, but will still likely need to place another order. I don't think I have a backbone long enough for the next build. Plus I figured out what I wanted for my laser fixture holders and some parts for a storage rack. With the effort I have put into building it, it will get s nice storage solution that shows it off a bit too!
Last edited by BiggsDarkLighter; Nov 19, 2019 at 12:42 AM.
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Jan 17, 2019, 08:29 PM
Could you elaborate a bit on your thinking?
Jan 18, 2019, 01:53 AM
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Sometimes sarcasm does translate over the internet! But if you really want me to, I am sure I can write a book....

PS: I am 100% sure it is some sort of mental disorder. My cars, I have modified every single one I have owned. My shoes, added the Nike sensor. Stock sailboats? Naw, I have added or subtracted something. The list goes on and on.

So if I am making something from scratch, yeah it will get silly.

This post? I modified it...
Last edited by BiggsDarkLighter; Jan 18, 2019 at 02:05 AM.
Jan 18, 2019, 11:04 AM
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vintageone's Avatar
BiggsDL, I like your ideas !!! I think you are on the right track with this, (pun intended)!!! The building board is after all the Foundation of a build and if your Foundation is straight and true, then with easy adjustments your following steps should go together smoothly !!! You are on to something that should have been developed along time ago, for all us boat builders !!! Kudos to you, I would definitely be interested in purchasing one of these units when you finally develop it. Ingenious thinking on your part,I am a fan !!!
Jan 19, 2019, 08:03 PM
Will fly for food
davidjensen's Avatar
My building board is a flat granite (simulated) countertop. Very heavy but flat. I glue the shadows down with extra supports and then tie them together with some balsa stick. Its all that's needed.
Jan 20, 2019, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by davidjensen
... Its all that's needed.
For sure! And you have a garage full of boats to prove it too, if memory serves me correctly lol... There is at least one thing here that a simple flat build board can't do though. Alignment jig. I didn't think at first I could incorporate the two, but I pulled it off, and nicely too.

And that flat heavy board has one big disadvantage in my shop. I don't have a dedicated space I can leave alone for just building boats. I need to be able to move a boat out of the way and hang it up on the wall. Sure, I could come up with something to make a setup like that work, but I came up with this instead!

vintageone, I'm glad you find it exciting too, thank you for the encouragement! The thought did occur that a few people might be interested in buying a set of these. I have actually given this a bit of thought the last year or two as I tinkered with this. I don't know how economically feasible it would be for me to do though.

First off, the parts to make it are NOT cheap. The cost of the parts plus what I would have to sell it for to make the effort worth it, would likely take it way out of most budgets. It would be a big risk to tie up that much in inventory even for just one set to sell.

Second, most of the effort in this project, is researching and digging for the right bits and the brainstorming behind how to do it. There are only going to be a few parts completely handmade on it.

Sure, I could make up plans and sell them, but honestly I wouldn't feel right doing so. This community has given so much to me, it is the least I can give back. Besides very little in the plans would be mission critical measurements.

But, if there is enough interest I might make up some "short" kits. Basically with just the custom parts made up ready to go, and the rest left up to end user to sort out. The most likely outcome though will simply be too well document it here and supply any templates I make up for free.
Jan 23, 2019, 01:55 AM
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So tonight I went hunting for some parts to finish my workbench, and spent a good bit of time staring at the aluminum bits in Home Depot while I was there. I picked up the parts I wanted for the station clamps, then stared at my pile of workbench materials need and put the aluminum back.

1" angle iron (well angle aluminum lol) at 1/8" thick looked perfect alongside some flat 1" bar also 1/8" thick. Wasn't too expensive either, maybe $15 total?

I am mildly concerned about cutting them though. Sure, a hacksaw is doable, but I want speed and accuracy too. A quick Google hunt tells me I can cut them with my Delta miter saw. A suggestion of using a 10/90 dish soap water mix is thrown out there. Go slow, wear safety glasses. Surprisingly, woodworking blades can be used. I also have the Dremel table saw and a bunch of spare blades. But I haven't made or bought a crosscut sled for it yet. The Delta will likely win. It will handle the wear and tear better too. Maybe I will grab a proper bi-metal blade for it just to save my nice woodworking blade.

Still haven't decided on the method for truing the shadow clamps. I am leaning heavily towards the simple making a special jig/square for this. Staring at all the pieces 80/20 makes though gives me an idea that might just work...

I would probably need to use slightly wider 1 1/2 aluminum L bracket, but two holes perfectly drilled per track guide, so 4 holes. would self center. A drilling jig would need to be made. Should be pretty easily doable though. Already needed to make a drilling template for the other holes, but this level of precision wasn't as important.

My drill press has never run true, so I will have to bite it and replace it.
Oct 20, 2019, 10:55 PM
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So final push here! About to start actual construction on my "big boat" project and need to finish this OLD project!

I have stared at the first batch of parts on and off for two years or so now. I just wasn't coming up with a simple and elegant solution that didn't require a LOT of additional time out in the workshop building fixtures, drilling holes, and making up repetitive parts. As much fun as making tools from basically scratch is, my drill press is less than ideal. I had seen some brackets that looked promising, but they were not cheap. So nothing got done.

I finally decided the smart money was to eliminate as many extra projects as possible, by purchasing whatever I can get pre-made. While materials to do it myself were only $15-30 tops that way, the time saved by just purchasing premade parts was WELL worth it. From 80/20 Inc. the brackets I wanted were $80 + stacked shipping on each item. But I stumbled across another place (TNutz) selling comparable hardware and the same 15x brackets from them ended up being $40 + a flat shipping rate.

One thing I wanted was the ability to hang an unfinished boat back up on the wall, SECURELY. I don't have tons of workshop space, so if I need to use the workbench for something else during a build, I want to be able to safely put the boat up out of the way.

Turns out I probably should have ordered 30 pcs instead of 15... The Dawn has 15 stations, so I just grabbed 15 brackets. I worked through a bunch of ways to use the brackets on hand. But they took up too much room, required me to make up parts, or both. Staring at the parts, I realized the best solution is to double up on the brackets and use two per station... I can use them as the clamps, and I also get 4 holes to align them.
Last edited by BiggsDarkLighter; Oct 20, 2019 at 11:00 PM.
Oct 20, 2019, 11:20 PM
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Well I only took one picture with the next stage of hardware, and it was accidental... It was just sitting in the background of another picture. Nothing impressive really, I just put it together with the lower fixture bolts and captive slide thingamajigs.

I have come across one small potential design flaw with this current setup. With reasonable force, say maybe a vigorous sanding pressure amount, this long beam has about 1/8" of deflection. I was using the hand that I was holding the ruler with to apply the downward pressure. So not ideal, but still likely a touch more than it would see under normal building conditions.

I am including a picture of this.

There are a couple fixes. Well I could start with simply ignoring it altogether. But it bothers me a little bit. Most likely once a keel board is in place, it would become a non-issue. Maybe. But the point of a building jig, is perfection. And that flexing at the wrong time of the build could be a problem. I think the possibility is negligible, but it is there. I can come up with scenarios where flex might happen, like maybe hammering in plank pegs, or using a chisel and hammer to shape something for some odd reason. At the shorter lengths, like a 36/600, RG65, or Footy (lol right)), flex shouldn't be a concern.

Anyways, I am going to give this some thought to see what I can come up with as a good/simple/inexpensive solution.
Last edited by BiggsDarkLighter; Nov 18, 2019 at 10:53 PM.
Nov 19, 2019, 04:00 AM
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So in my original thread, Building Jigs? Brainstorming... an idea was expressed to make this an "all around" jig and that it would be super cool to utilize for wing building too. I bumped that back up as it is a better place to discuss it than here.

Buried in my first post here, are a few design issues I still need to solve. And the biggest one left, and would need to be solved for a wing jig setup also. That is keeping the stations perpendicular. This post isn't written in chronological order, and I am wondering if the solution to this, could possibly be the solution to the issues in the post that will follow this...

This still leaves a few other design issues from the first post. Let me bring up two. The rest will be solved later, or by the solutions I work out for these.

1) What would be the most glue resistant finish to apply to the oak?

I am thinking along the lines of something slightly oily might work. Maybe a paraffin/linseed oil type finish where I warm them up? I need something that cyno, epoxy, and Titebond type glues won't easily adhere to.

2) Do I clamp the shadows, or glue them?

The choices went from clamp or glue, to just clamp, or clamp AND drill. Or heck, all the above. Currently, I have all the hardware on hand to make the clamp and or drill method work perfectly. Well almost perfectly I guess. The clamp only method doesn't have a lot of clamp grip room above the last bolt holes. An unfortunate bump could cause a shadow to move. The drilled and clamped stations would be more secure, but not allow for as easy of shadow alignment during initial setup. Making the holes big enough to allow that wiggle room back in, would also increase the likelihood of a bump, misaligning a shadow.

Maybe the solution is all three, and utilizing my Cricket to make shadow holders. With the Cricket I can cut, and draw too if I want. I could make holders with the center cross lines drawn on them that bolt to the building board, and glue to the shadows. This would be a PERFECT time to utilize hide glue. Would be easy to pop these off with an application of steam.

Another concern from the first post not perfectly solved, is getting the stations a perfect 90 to the backbone. This should have been solved with the L-brackets. But I bought 80/20 "alternative" brackets from T-Nutz. Not sure if the 80/20 ones would be any better though. But when flush against the backbone, and sitting next to each other, there is a slight gap up at the top. Obviously, they are not a perfect 90. So while the compression give in wood might compensate for a lot of this, just using these brackets as clamps would also increase the chance of the shadow wanting to slip upward.

Every solution, seems to include a few more issues, needing more solutions to solve... Yep I know, lots of writing and it would have been much simpler to just use a flat board, yada yada do. But this "build" thread exists because I am now committed to this idea, with a lot of time and materials invested in making it work. The prototype idea has evolved into a lot more, and it is sitting, mostly completed, on my workbench now! And as I go back through the rabbits warren of threads related to this, and write out my thoughts, doing that alone helps me work towards possible solutions. Plus the help and input from you guys! I still have another post in progress thinking about the sag issue in the post above... I will put that and more pictures up in the next day or so.
Nov 20, 2019, 08:17 PM
Thomas Armstrong
This is how I did it for RG65 boats. More here (scroll to the end, shows all building photos):

Nov 21, 2019, 12:51 AM
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Thomas, I loved your nArrow build! Thank you for posting that up on here! Perfect example of how simple and effective a building board can be. And we all know my obsession with tools and overcomplicating things, so yeah lol. Lasers. I have lasers!

But really, I'm simply an artist. I love to build and create. I am technically obsessed (it challenges me and keeps my interest), so I primarily enjoy making things I can physically touch and use. For me, the space I work in and the tools I make to do it are as much a part of that process, as what I create with them. I'm apparently an artist with ADD so some months I will be building a car (lets not talk about how many cars I own...), sometimes drawing (I had some formal training, then got bored haha), building boats, various woodworking projects, etc. It is probably why I always come back to building boats. It is why ones like the Dawn fascinate me. Classical Masterpiece. An old well used workshop full of vintage and loved tools, is my personal cathedral. My point being that the effort I am putting into this, is not lost. It will hang up in the workshop when not in use, and become part of that. Anyways...

Building my Building board, turned into a build thread all its own. It has been an adventure for sure. And it isn't quite over yet. It has been a month since I discovered the sag-snag... I have kicked about a bunch of ideas.

The perfect solution would have been realizing I would have this problem at the very beginning. I could have just used the double square tubes. But the shorter backbones I got, didn't have any flex. And that took me to the final solution, with a couple other stepping stones along the way.

Easiest: Another support stand in the middle. But my workbench are not all perfectly flat and white I plan to have adjustable feet, adds too much setup complexity. I also use a padded mat, or frequently a cutting mat on the workbench.

Next: Use an aluminum backbone doubler underneath. While I don't have a second backbone the full length, what I do have should do the trick. The end foot brackets aren't quite thick enough for another brace underneath. Simple enough to remake, or just ignore. With the leveling feet, I would have enough room. But, I don't think this idea holds up...

Finally: Make a wood doubler underneath. I think this is the ideal solution at this point in the game. The cost of more wood vs more tie in plates and hardware, the wood wins.

For now I am going to start off with about a 30" length, the size of one of my shorter (shortest maybe?) backbones. I won't permanently mount the end stands to it. If that proves unstable (I don't think it will be though) then I will make a longer doubler that can be used for the longest backbone. The doublers can at least be left bolted to the backbones.
Nov 30, 2019, 06:43 PM
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Super annoying... I need to find LED lighting that doesn't tint the pictures purple. Or for that matter mess with the colors when I am looking at stuff. I hate having to edit it out of all them... Oh well.

I didn't really find the feet I was after at Home Depot, so I modified them. Got rid of the plastic adjusters, and changed out the felt pads for some grippy ones. Since these are 1/4-20 thread, I can easily change them out later I am sure.

Got some "cross dowel nuts" to hold the end pieces on. Lots of 1/4-20 hardware to utilize!

As for finishing I was going to go with MarcSmith's suggestion of stain and varnish, then use mold release. I found this awesome water based stain though, and it suggested the lacquer next to it. I stared at all the cans for a while and the varnish was picky about the types of surfaces it could go over. Hopefully the lacquer will work just as well. I think I actually have spar varnish somewhere too...

Anyways, I am hoping this aging stuff turns out looking nice. Big can, but I will likely use it on the tool holder fixtures, and I am sure I can find plenty of other uses around the shop.

I also picked up some more oak planks for the backbone doubler, and other future projects. I was going to just remake the feet taller, but I think I will just glue a piece to the bottom instead. My rude experiments showed that the oak doubler might not be thick enough, so going to get a little more room to work with.

Well out into the shop to try to get my cuts made and at least get everything glued up. I am looking forward to trying out the stain! Maybe I will try it out on one of the tool fixtures first...
Last edited by BiggsDarkLighter; Nov 30, 2019 at 06:49 PM.

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