Top Netting

On occasion when I’m doing a task that is repetitive (like making rudder straps) I will pick a task that is fairly stand alone and work on that to break up the monotony.  I started the foretop when I started doing the center heavy deck planking and finished it up today while taking a break from the rudder straps.

I had a hard time with the plans on this one.  They were drawn with one half of the plan showing the upper side and the other showing the bottom.  The problem I had was that things like the bolsters were not clear to me, so I had to use backup sources.  Depending on what I’m am looking for, I have a couple of sources I refer to pretty regularly – ‘The 44-Gun Frigate USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides" (Anatomy of the Ship) (Amazon)’, and my primary backup source – the US Navy’s plan for the 1929 reconstruction.  I purchased all of the plans (536 drawings) on a CD from the Charlestown Navy Yard where the Constitution is currently berthed.  Their web address used to be but I have not been able to bring the site up for quite a while.  According to the internet wayback machine the site has not changed since (or disappeared on) February 14, 2008, however if you’re interested, the contact email address may still work. Update: I happened to stumble upon a site that had the link to the new constitution site (I guess the hosting was moved to a different part of the government.  The site is now part of the domain.  The direct address is

Today’s task was to finish the netting for the rails.  To do this, used a material called Tulle which is typically used for wedding dresses and decorations.  For my purposes, the scale is right (each diamond is approximately 1 scale inch too big which at 5/32”=1” is .013” too big).  What I did was stitch the shape of the net with thread, glue the seams and then trim the excess away.  It was a pretty straight forward process, but it took a couple of tries to get the gluing right.  I ended up using cyano even though I would have preferred to use diluted wood glue.  The problem with the wood glue was that unless it was full strength, all of the tiny threads of the netting didn’t want to stick to the thread, but if you used it full strength then it tended to clog the holes of the net around the thread.  If you choose to go this route, I wish you better luck then I had!

After the net was cut from the Tulle, I attached it to the railing of the topmast.  I used 34ga. wire because it was difficult to get normal thread tight on the tiny rail.  34ga is 0.0063” in diameter (0.48” scale).  I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have tied the nets to the rail with 1/2 inch line.

I don’t remember the source of the wire off the top of my head, but I know it’s printed on the spools, so I will update this entry when I go back down to my workshop. The source I used for the wire was Artistic Wire, Ltd.


The “stitched” netting ready for gluing* Top view of the foretop View of the foretop showing the netting a little better

* I used the small piece of wood tied to the end of the thread to keep it from pulling through when I stitched the first side.  Once you go around the corner, this becomes less of an issue.

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