Note the “feet” that Tom
Hallman added to his
fuselage jig so that it can
stand upright. Hallman
Tom Hallman’s jigging technique
by Gene Smith
One of the secrets of building is the use of jigs. A jig is basically a fixture that holds parts in
alignment while the glue is setting. This
can be something as simple as using a
stick to prop up a wingtip to set the
dihedral, or it can be a fuselage building
box such as what is sold by Rocky Top
Models. The fuselage building box is
used to secure a half-shell fuselage while
attaching the stringers.
Jigs can also be custom-made, such
as the fuselage and wing jigs that Tom
Hallman uses to build his flying pieces
of art. Tom shared some pictures and
a description of one of his fuselage
jigs. Because most of these jigs are for
one-time use, it’s important that they
be made of flat, relatively inexpensive
material that is easy to work with. Foam
board fits the bill.
Tom begins by gluing the fuselage
plans to the foam board, then drawing
the former locations. He cuts out the
fuselage shape approximately 3/4 inch
too large and tack-glues verticals made
from 1/8-inch square balsa to the formers.
Using lightweight balsa verticals makes
it easier to slice them off of the formers
Tom drops the cutout fuselage shape
back into the foam board and marks the
top and bottom outline of the fuselage
onto each vertical. He notches the
formers for the top, bottom, and side
stringer locations then tack-glues the
entire former oval to the verticals.
Locations for the remaining stringers
are eyeballed on one side of the fuselage.
The stringers on the opposite side are
positioned using the tool shown in the
photo. The 1/8-inch square verticals will
be in the way of a few of the stringers,
but those stringers can be mounted after
the fuselage is removed from the jig.
Now Tom uses a sharp blade to carefully
slice the verticals off of the formers.
Tom adds a few small crosspieces on
the weaker areas of the formers. It’s
important to reinforce the launching
hold points on both sides of the fuselage
behind the trailing edge. He used a strip
of a 3/8 x 1/16-inch balsa crosspiece for
support. Who hasn’t broken a former by
holding the fuselage a little too tightly
while launching a model? I know I have!
After adding a reinforcing
crossmember on a few models while
repairing fuselages, I finally started
adding the crossmember during the
initial construction. Thanks, Tom, for
sharing your jigging technique.
That reminds me of more good
information I have gleaned from Tom. In
my September 2014 column, I featured
Tom’s Seafire, which was finished with
DecoArt Americana Gloss Enamels.
DecoArt also has a line of acrylic paints.
If you want to try this, purchase the
enamel product, not acrylic. (It is acrylic
enamel, although it doesn’t say that on
Using it with an airbrush, Tom thins
the paint with water to the consistency
of milk. The tissue is mounted on a
frame for painting. As with all painting,
several light coats are better than one or
two heavy ones. Tom averages four light
The water in the paint mix shrinks
the tissue on the frame, but leaves a
little shrinkage for the covering process.
DecoArt Americana Enamels are
available in many stores and online.
When Mike Pykelny purchased
StarLink Flite Tech Models from Larry
Since the new
the price has been kept
at $49 for the standard
model and $65 for
the version with an
RDT connector. A
119 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2016