Saturday, April 13, 2013

Let's make a Mini-Widget...

 Basic Shape:  The Mini-Widget is a variant of the “mini-Simmons” design, and is a shape that lies somewhere between my T-Belly, belly board and my Widget mid-size shape. The common ground here is maximum planing surface and volume in a very short length. Wide-tails are notoriously hard to turn, so I like to use single-or double-wings in the tail (depending on board length) to loosen things up a bit. The diamond-tail also helps here as well. The T-Belly and the Mini-Widget also share some Simmons-esque features, i.e. belly in front third, flat in middle and progressive tail-concave through the fin array. The T-Belly and the Mini-Widget also have a beveled rail that starts just in front of the fins and continues out the tail. The bevel increases the rail-rocker in the back third of the board (another turning-aide). See Widget   T-Belly

Getting started:  I design all new shapes using Aku shaping software, and the Mini-Widget was no exception. While I handshape probably 95% of my boards, using the software has three advantages: (1) I can place the profile of my new shape over the profile of the blank I intend to use to see if it fits or if I need to make adjustments to rocker when I order the blank, (2) the software will print out a full-size outline which I’ll use to produce the template for the board, and (3) the software has a feature that allows me to view the shape in 3-d from all angles.

rough-cut template
The Template:   I print out and trace the outline on a piece of Masonite. Since this is a “spin template”, about 2/3 of the outline curve is on one side (nose to just past middle) and 2/3 of the outline curve is on the other side (tail to just past middle).
I’ll be able to use this same template when shaping MWs a little longer or a little shorter. 

Finished  spin-template

Ordering the blank:  This shape calls for a very wide outline with a very low rocker curve. While a fish blank has the width, thickness and full nose I need, surprisingly it doesn’t have the low rocker numbers I’m looking for. While I could order a fish blank with less rocker, the amount of decrease in nose rocker I need is so high, that it would require extra stringer thickness to prevent the blank from “springing-back” to its original shape, adding weight to the finished shape. Instead I chose an 8-6EA, and after cutting off about 18” from each end, I had a rocker curve very close to what I needed, enough width to accommodate the full outline, and could stick with the light 3/16” bass stringer.

After trimming off both ends, and cutting blank to length

Finding the best location for outline on the 86EA. 
Outline cut

Shaping:The MW is a challenge to shape, with the multiple bottom-contours and the “spooned-out” nose on the deck. Main consideration is to try to take most of the excess foam off the bottom. Foam blanks become less dense (softer) as you plane away the excess foam. You want to leave the deck as dense as possible to alleviate excessive heel denting (“Blue” density foam was chosen for this reason as well). The shaper also has to keep in mind the desired thickness of the finish board (in this case 2-5/8”) and not exceed it.

Finished blank showing belly flat middle
Finished blank showing tail concave and rail bevel
Finished blank showing belly in nose
Finished Blank:  This blank will receive full resin-tint color, which means the blank itself had to be sanded with progressively finer grit until it had almost a polished look. After the blank is finished, I mark the fin placement and place it in the rack where it waits its turn. Attached to the blank is the production order which calls-out the glassing schedule, color, logo placement and fin-box type.

To be continued...

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