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How to carve a canopy plug
May 12th, 2022 at 12:54am
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You'll find as you build your skills in modeling you'll begin to build from plans instead of kits.  Building from plans won't include all those plastic parts that come in kits.  We have a section on making props in the Props and Noseblock section.

Today we'll talk about carving a canopy plug for plunge or vacuum forming a canopy. 

1. 1st pic shows laying out a balsa block to carve a plug from.  You can cut the canopy shape from the plan using the side view and top view.  Copy or cut them from the plan. and trace around them onto the balsa block.

2. & 3.  Show the first cut following the side profile of the canopy.  Use a coping saw or razor saw for the major cuts.  Once you have the shape rough cut leaving a 1/16" away from the lines.  Start sanding with 150 grit sandpaper.  Once you've gotten the basic shape.  Start smoothing the plug with finer grits of sandpaper, 250, 350, to eventually 600 grit.  You want the plug as smooth as you can make it.  Any marks left on the plug will be reproduced on the canopy.

4. Seal the canopy with your choice of grain sealer and repeat the 400 to 600 grit sandpaper. Once sealed you'll need to elevate the plug so you can plunge mold or vacuum form the plug.  Not having a vacuum form box made I drilled a 1/4" hole in the bottom to receive a 1/4" dowel and held the plug and dowel up with a locking clamp.   I then took a sheet of clear plastic (this was found in the old clear binding of school binders.  I heated this over an electric stove burner (wear gloves or build a frame of wood to hold the plastic) approximately 8 to 12 inches above the  burner till the plastic sags in an area larger than the canopy plug.  Then quickly plunge the plastic over the plug and pull it down hard over the plug till the plastic is close around the bottom of the plug.

5. You'll have a completed canopy.  Don't be discouraged if you don't get it the first try.  Gently lift the  plastic off the plug and stretch it out as best you can using gloves re-heat the plastic.  It should shrink back and then re-sag.  Let it sag till the plastic is pliable then re-plunge. Don't ask me how I know abut this! Embarrassed Cheesy Wink

6. My first attempt was pretty good, but there were a few small wrinkles at the rear of the canopy.  I had more plastic (bakery clear plastic boxes are a good source also)  So try again.

ATTENTION BEFORE PLUNGING THE PLASTIC OVER THE PLUG DUST THE PLUG WITH SOME BABY POWDER THEN BLOW IT OFF THIS IS A PLUG RELEASE FOR THE PLASTIC.
  

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1_Layingouttheblockforcarving_1.jpg
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2_MARKINGTHEBLOCK_2.jpg
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STARTCUTTINGBLOCK_3.jpg
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4_FINAL_shape_SANDING_4.jpg
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5_FINISHEDBLOCK_5.jpg
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6_FIRSTPLUNGEDCANOPY_6.jpg

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