Scratch Building: Transfer A Drawing To Wood

1928 Fairchild FC-2W2

1928 Fairchild FC-2W2

We’re converting a Hobby Lobby Telemaster into a 1928 Fairchild FC-2W2 for a National Parks Service program. This aircraft was the first ever owned by NASA and later the first owned by the National Parks Service. Information link at bottom.

While making a complex former, I felt the method was simple, interesting and important to share. Having arrived at the shape, I used the following method to copy it onto the material I wished to cut it from. The simple technique could help you build any aircraft from your own or purchased drawings.

Drawing of Fairchild FC - 2W2 Former

Drawing of Fairchild Former

1. First we need a drawing. If your making “one off” parts as I am in this example, simply draw the part on standard 20 lb copier paper using pencil. I make lots of changes and mistakes as I go, so it’s important to have an eraser equipped pencil.

Headless Telemaster/Fairchild

1B. Here is the front of the modified fuse where our soon to be made former will be installed.

Fairchild Imagination

Fairchild Imagination

1C. Holding up our drawing to imagine what it’s going to look like. Does it look correct?
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein

Former Drawing and Copy

Former Drawing and Copy

2. If your using an obtained drawing or you wish to preserve your drawing, use a copier or all in one printer to make a copy of the area containing the part you want to make. In this case, I made a copy of my pencil drawing just in case I discovered and error and wanted to alter the drawing before I finished.

Fairchild Former Heavy Pencil

Fairchild Former Heavy Pencil

3. Heavily pencil over the lines we wish to transfer to the wood. I used a standard #2 pencil.

Fairchild Formula 560

Fairchild Formula 560

3B. There are multiple uses for Formula 560.

Fairchild Former Drawing Face Down

Fairchild Former Drawing Face Down

4. Place the drawing, heavy pencil down against your material. You will notice the grain is running the wrong way in this former. However, it’s just a jig for building the nose, it’s not intended to provide any structure. The nose of this model has many facets of 1/4″ thick balsa. Although I’ll leave the former in the model, it could be removed if I wanted too. As this model has a short nose needing weight up front, I’ll be leaving it in.

Fairchild Plan Pin Down

Fairchild Plan Pin Down

5. Place two pins through the paper into the wood to prevent the drawing from moving. I choose top and bottom locations. Notice you can see the drawing through the paper. Makes me feel like Superman, you?

Fairchild Nickle Rub Down

Fairchild Nickle Rub Down

6. Find something curved and smooth like a coin, I choose a nickle to rub the pencil into the wood.

Fairchild Lift & Inspect

Fairchild Lift & Inspect

7. Because we created a way to register the drawing to the wood, we can lift the paper up and look at our results as we progress. No danger of losing our alignment.

Fairchild Former Transfer Finished

Fairchild Former Transfer Finished

8. Ahhh, thats what I’m talking about! The drawing has new been transferred to our material. It will be easy to cut it out now.

Fairchild Former On The Bandsaw

Fairchild Former On The Bandsaw

9. Doing what the band saw does best.

Fairchild Drill Hole

Fairchild Drill Hole

10. Drilling for the Scroll Saw

Fairchild Former Installing on Scroll Saw

Fairchild Former Installing on Scroll Saw

11. Installing on the Scroll Saw

Fairchild Scrolling Along

Fairchild Scrolling Along

12. Doing the inside, what the scroll saw does best.

Fairchild Former Against Print

Fairchild Former Against Print

13. How does it look against the print?

Fairchild Former Goes About Here

Fairchild Former Goes About Here

14. The former goes in about this position.

Fairchild Former Positioned

Fairchild Former Positioned

15. Former positioned and ready for addition of next nose sheeting segments. Since we are working with a model that is already built, we elected to jig the next two formers to the front of the fuse. when the 1/4″ thick balsa segments are added from the front of the fuse to this former, many facets will be formed representing the nose of this model. Using this method, we only need to make the 3 sides of each sheet accurate, they can be allowed to extend past the former. We can cut them off and sand them down against the former as we go. After all plates in position, we’ll snap out all the scrap sticks used to hold the former in place. The sanding bars are banded tightly to the fuse sides so I could measure and put the former in the center. They make a great straight edge.

I thought solving the problems of making and installing this former would be interesting to readers and hope you made it this far into a very long post.

Story of the National Parks Service first aircraft in the National Parks Traveler

Stars And Strips, a Fairchild FC 2W2 at the target=”_blank”>The Virginia Aviation Museum.

Byrd's Fairchild

Byrd’s Fairchild


Admiral Byrd used the Fairchild FC 2W2 as a Aerial Photography Platform including in the South Pole.

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