Skinning the Wing


November 1998

Just a note to pass on to other builders that really works for patterns for skins. Like other builders, I used posterboard for sizing and fitting before I cut out the plywood skins. But I found that if I cut it to the exact size, it wouldn't fit as closely as I wanted. My friend Ray Thompson suggested I use the same thing he was using for the sizing of the aluminum skins he was cutting for his Spitfire restoration. I did and they work like a charm! They are a little expensive but you can cut "right to the line". "They" are sheets of Lexan about 1/16" thick. You get no sagging or curling like posterboard. I don't know if this will help anyone but it works for us.

Bill Russell

From "Construction Notes" Falco Builders Letter, June 1986

Terry Smith skinned the wing using the procedure spelled out in the new construction manual; that is, with the wing vertical and skinning both the bottom and top of a section of the wing before moving outboard to the next section. He used Karl Hansen's method of gluing the scrap piece of 20x20 pine to the plywood, but Terry said he found that bar clamps worked better than the rubber straps. After the bottom skin was glued in place, Terry clamped a two-by-four along the spar with Jorgensen clamps to give him something to clamp to. When he got to the wing tip, this method wouldn't work, so he had to build a little scaffold of board and clamps. Terry said the clamps pulled the plywood around the leading edge beautifully-the only way to go, he says. He says it is important that you position the 20x20 piece of pine within about half an inch of the bend or the plywood will pucker up and pull away.

From "Construction Notes" Falco Builders Letter, September 1986

Jerry Walker has an interesting technique for marking his plywood skins. He uses dressmaker's tracing paper, which is a type of carbon paper, but it comes in larger sheets which are folded. Jerry first tapes a number of legal pad sheets together with scotch tape-although a roll of drafting paper would be better-and he marks the outline of the ribs and spars on this paper. Jerry then places the tracing/carbon paper on the plywood, covers this with his assemblage of legal pad sheets and goes over each line with a pencil, and the lines are transfered to the plywood by the tracing/carbon paper. After the plywood is cut out to shape, Jerry turns the legal-paper-assemblage over and uses the tracing/carbon paper to mark the other side of the plywood. Slick trick.