Pattern Making ???

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Project by shipwright posted 06-05-2012 06:42 PM 4961 views 1 time favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few days ago poopiekat posted a forum topic about pattern making. I thought these photos may be of interest to enough of you to warrant posting them as a project. When you build custom boats it is often not possible to get the fittings you want or need these days (or even about 28 years ago in this case) especially in bronze.

Back when I was doing that I made lots of patterns and sent them off to the foundry to be cast. I always used aluminium bronze.

Since this is to be a project made of wood, the first photo is the actual Honduras Mahogany patterns, my actual contribution to the process. Sorry about the condition. They have spent the last two and a half decades in a box of junk.

The second photo is of a shaft strut, along with the pattern. When the core is a regular shape, like a cylinder the foundry supplies it. The bottom of this pattern, that represents the hull of the boat, required a core box though.

The third is a gudgeon fitting to hold the lower end of the rudder shaft, with its pattern. Sorry, the core box pattern is long gone.

Number four the strongest backstay lever I’ve ever seen, with patterns.

Number five is the same lever, all assembled and ready to install.

The last one is of the rudder gudgeons on “Sylvester” one of the Benford catboats.

For the record it’s even harder now as small foundries that will take small orders like mine were are all but gone. The one that cast these closed about twenty years ago and is now the site of a condo development.

C’est la vie !

Thanks for looking, questions, comments etc always welcome.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

25 comments so far

View Kookaburra's profile


749 posts in 3564 days

#1 posted 06-05-2012 06:46 PM

This is fascinating! my grandfather was a boatbuilder – I now wish I had talked to him more about the process. Thank you!

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4916 days

#2 posted 06-05-2012 06:58 PM

Thanks Paul very interesting explanation of what pattern making is. The photos help a lot to demonstrate the process too.


View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5740 days

#3 posted 06-05-2012 07:32 PM

Pattern makers were the backbone of industries. Making a master out of wood so it could be case metal.

I had a paying hobby making puzzles out of peoples names. I was contacted by an advertising company working for GM that wanted two letters to be interlocked and made out of wood. They were then going to make plastic copies and give to every dealer to sit on their desk.

I never saw the final product.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View mafe's profile


13695 posts in 4429 days

#4 posted 06-05-2012 07:37 PM

Hi Paul,
Beautiful work, I especially love the shaft model, it could stand in my livingroom.
Best thoughts from Mr- Espresso,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5221 days

#5 posted 06-05-2012 07:44 PM

Wow, you’re old.

Seriously, this is cool. I have spent my life in electronics design, and things have really changed here too. But I never got to have something cast out of bronze. Neat. Really neat.

Thanks for the post,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View mafe's profile


13695 posts in 4429 days

#6 posted 06-05-2012 07:51 PM

This is from my living room.
Just to explain.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4674 days

#7 posted 06-05-2012 08:20 PM

Interesting post Paul. You have to know a thing or two to make those patterns. My casting experience is limited to some metal rings made from silver solder for the opening on some hollow forms I turned. It was fun, but not in the same league as your bronze patterns. I find it sad that so many small manufacturing firms, including foundries have disappeared.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27258 posts in 4445 days

#8 posted 06-05-2012 08:32 PM

Nice patterns. making them is fun and it is nice to see the cast product from them. Thanks, Paul!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View peteg's profile


4438 posts in 4162 days

#9 posted 06-05-2012 09:29 PM

Paul, systems were simpler back in “the olden days” but extremely effective, as Karson said the old pattern amkers were the lifeblood of so many industries, Thanks for the Revisit of plesant times where tradesmen took real pride in their work

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View madts's profile


1959 posts in 3679 days

#10 posted 06-05-2012 11:26 PM

Boy, that back stay leaver goes back 40 plus years. remember them well.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View sras's profile


6519 posts in 4469 days

#11 posted 06-06-2012 02:19 AM

That is really interesting! Thanks for sharing it.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View rance's profile


4281 posts in 4500 days

#12 posted 06-06-2012 04:24 AM

All I can say is WOW. Oh, and yeah, you sure are old Paul. :D

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Doug's profile


1279 posts in 4100 days

#13 posted 06-06-2012 11:27 AM

I worked in a pattern shop for a little while when I was younger. The skill that it takes to make the pattern or mold for something never ceases to amaze me. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the trade long enough to be taught any of that skill.

-- Doug

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4182 days

#14 posted 06-06-2012 03:03 PM

Missed this,cause it didn’t come up when you posted. Nice work as always. Interesting that we were once a nation of builders and craftsman. Now we are the business center? We speculate on the value of wigets????

Did the place close due to lack of business, or old age?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View shipwright's profile


8781 posts in 4137 days

#15 posted 06-06-2012 03:10 PM

From the sag in the roof that was there as long as I can remember, I might say old age but I know that it just became too tough to make a go with a small foundry.
It was a lot like the old shipyards I worked in as a young guy, run down buildings low light, at the mercy to some extent of the weather, and turning out amazing work.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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