Tonight I made a start on turning the twin 30mm cannons. After a lot of deliberation over material choices, I’m experimenting with pine, section at a time. I’m turning the details on the outside to diameter, then boring out the inside to slide onto a pipe and save weight. It’s worth a shot while the materials are free and available. This wood is from the old posts on my patio roof I just pulled down for renovations.
I’d like to think it would work doing the whole thing in pine as it is cheap and readily available. If I can’t get the biggest diameter, then the rest of the weapon will likely be a hybrid of materials to get the job done.
It’s coming out surprisingly smooth and in good condition considering how old it is and that the ends of the posts are rotten.
4 December 2018
Experimenting with some cheap wood. Glued and doweled together, I will knock 45’s off the corners and turn on the lathe to 148mm diameter, then reduce where needed for details.
5 December 2018
Unfortunately I don’t have a wood lathe, but with a bit of creative thinking, I was able to make a tool rest for woodworking chisels and get things moving. The carriage on my lathe gets right in the way of large diameter stuff, so I pushed the tailstock back as far as it would go and cut my boxed timber in half.
After mitring the corners off the boxed timber with a circular saw, I mounted plywood plates to each end for the centres and turned it from octagon into cylinder and went from there.
8 December 2018
MASSIVE DAY! I decided that, while the canons I have turned on the lathe look OK, they are not great. So, my friend Myles, who runs a furniture designing business and workshop, offered me a professional solution.
I spent most of today with him, watching and helping with my jaw on the ground as to the processes involved in high-end woodworking. The cuts are so sharp! The surfaces so flat! The angles so precise! Wow!
For the coopering, we started with rough timber, planed, then kerfed and thicknessed. Myles knows his stuff about tensions in the grains releasing as you cut it, causing bends and twists, so we did everything in increments as we cut, adjusting where needed when something bowed.
We calculated two different diameters and thicknesses, one for the rear of the cannons and one for the front. We got as far as biscuit joining them all together, to be glued later for turning.
11 December 2018
Another big day in a pro woodworking studio, building 30mm mass accelerator cannons for the Viper. Glue-up day. We placed spacer blocks inside first, to centre our support pipe.
We also made driver blocks to attach to the lathe on the faceplate and the live centre on the tail stock.
Today was a good little trip out to Myles’ place to finish turning the cannons. I brought the barrel ends home tonight with a couple of borers, to drill them out to 30mm as per the ammunition calibre.
17 December 2018
After work this afternoon, I returned to Myles’s workshop to finish gluing up the cannons. Myles had a few nice little tips and tricks that made things go smoother, plus because of his earlier precision, I was able to use the octagonal arbours we made to fill the end of the guns and centre and seat the barrel. Not shown, I dowelled the octagons and removed the screw. Myles suggested that I might want to bore the barrel end out later and the screw would get in the way. I agreed.
I spent all my earnings from a recent knife sale and bought paint and glue for the next few stages. Last night I stayed up until well after midnight to paint an engine exhaust and one of the guns.
30 January 2019
Chiselling detail and painting.
31 July 2023
While working on the hull fibreglass and waiting for more money to come in for materials, I made a couple of quick jigs for my palm-router. These guided the router straight and even so I could carve in better detail and consistent depth because my chisel work is crap.