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DIY Wood Model Stand

DIY Wood Model Stand

While some RC’ers like to use PVC pipe and fittings to make stands to transport their planes, I prefer to use my carpentry skills to make them out of wood. I have made several of these stands out of thin plywood and yellow pine boards and they hold up very well. I suppose the PVC stands hold up well, too, but we all have our preferences. One of the benefits of these stands is that they are light weight – usually around 5 to 7 pounds, which is pretty light considering they will carry a 25 to 35 pound plane. And an important thought, resist the impulse to “overbuild” as this only adds weight, may increase cost, and is usually not necessary.

To start the project, you need to get a rough idea of what it will look like and then make a drawing with the dimensions you will be cutting to. Once that is established, begin laying out your end panels made out of 1/4 inch plywood. Now, this is not the aircraft grade RC plywood as it would be astronomically expensive and wasteful, but the usual finish-grade plywood (birch or luan mahogany) like you would find at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Usually costs about $15 a sheet. Half sheets can be found at the home centers as well if you don’t want to buy a whole sheet. Depending on what your dimensions are, you may be able to get by with just a half sheet. For my stand, I decided on a width and height of 20 inches for the upright end panels with a radius of 8 inches for the cradle. Also, very important are hand holds in each of the uprights. These are made with a 2 inch diameter hole saw. Overall length of this stand is 32 inches which is about as wide as is comfortable for one person to lift using the hand holds. With a base width of about 22 inches, the stand rides very stable. But, keep the height of the stand as low as possible to make the center of gravity low to help prevent tipping. I usually carry my planes in the inverted attitude to keep the CG low as possible.

 

End panels or uprights are laid out, cut, and stood next to the previous stand I made several years ago. They are a bit wider this time for a warbird with a larger cowl than fits in the old stand.

Once you have the end panels completed, you need to rip some 1x2s out of your yellow pine board with the table saw (yellow pine is usually the least expensive lumber, but use nicer wood if you don’t mind the expense. The 1x6x8 foot board I used only cost $3.59). These boards make the base/bottom of the stand and are only 2 inches wide to keep the weight down. Begin the base by cutting the cross boards for the end panels and glue/nail/screw them together. I prefer to use my pneumatic brad gun and yellow wood glue. Make sure the base boards are clamped tight before you join them to the end panels as you want them to sit flat on the floor, even with the plywood. Do both end panels and then cut the long base boards and glue/nail/screw them to the end panel base-boards. To make it easy to get them square use the corner of your work table and secure them with clamps as you go. Assuming you built your work table ends square, you will be good to go here. Corner braces made from scrap keep the base boards together nicely and add little extra weight. And for the last components, make some 45 degree diagonal braces to hold the end panels upright. When using yellow pine, I recommend pre-drilling all holes if drywall screws are used to prevent splitting. And of course, buy a NEW bottle of quality Yellow Carpenter’s Wood Glue!

Base boards glued/nailed/screwed to the end panels and to the long base boards. Corner of work table provides a square work pattern. If you recall my article on the rolling shop table, I mentioned leaving some overhang on the top work surface for “reasons unknown at this time.” Well, this is one of those previously unknown reasons – a handy clamping 90 degree surface.

 

Once you have the base boards attached, use a long glue clamp to add lots of pressure to the joint. Keep the clamps on as long as required to make sure the joint is tight.

45 degree blocks (scrap lumber) are added to the corners to add strength to the base. Again, glue/nail/screw the blocks to the base board at all corners. A cross piece is added to the center to eliminate a bow.

 

Before adding the diagonal supports for the end panels, clamp your combination-square to the base board and end panel so you can make an accurate measurement for the length of the diagonal brace.

 

Cutting to the chase a bit, all four corners have been supported with diagonal braces at a 45 degree angle. This is a simple process of taking a measurement between the end panel and center of the base board on each side and cutting the braces. These braces are 3/4 inch by 1 inch and about 21 inches long. A bit of additional support for the diagonals at the end panels has been added under each one and glued/nailed/screwed. As a note, I use 45 degrees for the diagonal end cuts since that is an easy mark to determine and cut; also a 45-degree platform is on all combination-squares and builders have a 45-degree triangle in their tool collections. Figuring/cutting oddball angles is hard to do and very time consuming – no need for that here as the stand is not a piece of furniture or work of art!

For this stand, and after completion as an afterthought, I added a “scab” brace or gusset on each diagonal support made from 1/8” Aircraft plywood I found in the scrap box. Glued and nailed.

Almost finished!

To finish it off, I added some pipe insulation to the end panels. One smaller layer inside a larger layer. A water-weenie for the pool works well for this too.

I needed a subject in the photo to show the stand’s capability and drug out my Meister Zero, work-in-progress. Although not made specifically for the Zero, it would work if need be. The Zero really needs a longer stand. Inverted carry is usually the best approach.

I usually add a coat of gloss Polyurethane for a bit of moisture protection, especially on the very bottom side, but this is an optional step.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY LANE CRABTREE

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