The Basic Guide to "Stick Framing" a Fuselage
In recent months we've seen many "converts" from ARF-ing to Modeling. And with so many new builders
cropping up, it looks like the time is right to offer a bit of "How-To" on the subject of Stick Framing. Stick
Framing is not difficult, but as with everything we do, there is a learning curve involved. However, once you
learn the basic techniques, you can build anything.

The tools required for Stick Framing are minimal and basic. Here's what you'll need to get started:
1-    X-Acto Knife
2-    Sanding Block - I made one 2 1/4" X 4" from 3/4" thick pine with 100 grit on one side and 220 on the
other. The Sand Paper is glued on with Super 77 spray adhesive.
3-    24" Aluminum Straight Edge
4-    Small Dress Makers pins - available from Fabric Shops
5-    Building Board - I made my 18" X 48" board from 2 layers of Ceiling Tile glued together with Super 77
spray adhesive.
6-    2- Machinists Squares - available from Hardware Stores or Home Centers
7-    Waxed Paper to protect the plans
8-    6" Steel Ruler

In addition to the basic tools, a few lead weights will come in handy, as well as a few other items you'll discover
along the way. Be creative, you never know what might work for you as your building style develops. And the
type of glue used is strictly up to the individual modeler. For basic framing I use medium Cya, but any good
quality wood glue will do nicely.

The whole concept of stick framing is not new, and has been common to free flight modeling since modeling
began. The idea is to build a strong, yet very light structure that just can't be achieved using large sheet balsa
or plywood parts. And though each model you build will be different, the techniques are common to all, so
rather then cover specifics to the model used to demonstrate the process, I'll speak general terms that can be
applied to all of the models in my Short Kit line.

Wood selection is also a factor in getting the frame built straight and true. For the longerons you'll want to use
a medium/firm wood for stiffness, and durability in handling. Match the wood for both sides so that it will bend
similarly so's not to build in a pre-load that will induce unwanted warps. Firm wood should be used in the
higher stress areas like landing gear mounts and such. Then for the vertical and diagonal bracing, a medium
wood is fine, especially at the back end where overly heavy wood will be a penalty in balancing the finished
Study the plans to find any items that might need to be
pre-assembled before framing begins. Also note that not
all wood thickness is the same, so be careful to make a
L. H. and a R. H. assembly where applicable.
The secret to a good strong frame is in the joints. A good fit
is absolutely essential, so take your time to get the angle
cut properly. I begin by scoring the wood with the knife in
place. Then cut the stick and test fit the part. Use the
sanding block to true up the final fit through trial and error,
and don't glue it in until it fits. You want a nice snug fit; too
tight will induce twists and warps -- too loose will make for
a week joint.
To start the assembly process, pin down the main former that will set up the frame
alignment for assembly. Then pin the top and bottom longerons in place, gluing the
joints where contact is made between components. I like to add the 1/8" Sq. balsa
main structure first along with all of the cut parts where they mate up with the
primary structure.
After the main structure is glue together, then the vertical and diagonal bracing
can be added. Fit the bracing carefully to insure a good fit and glue joint. The
compound angles of the diagonals can be a bit tricky, so work slowly and
carefully to insure an accurate fit before gluing it in place. Then with the first side
frame finished, the second side will be done in the same fashion. But be careful, if
the sides are dedicated Left and Right, be sure you build in the differences. If
necessary, you can coat the plans with either WD-40 or Wesson Cooking Oil to
make the plans transparent and build over the back side.
Pick a flat spot on the frame and pin the frames over the Top/Bottom view of the
plans. Add the main formers on top -- or bottom if the fuselage would be easier to
pin upside down -- using the machinists squares to align the frames vertically.
While the fuselage frames are still true and secured on the plans add the
remaining formers where the sides are parallel.
With the top formers in place, build up any sub-assemblies involved and start adding
the bottom former or cross pieces. Keep a close eye on the alignment at this point,
though once the first couple of formers are in place the frame will stiffen up nicely.
Once the first former(s) are in, the remaining bottom
formers or cross pieces can be added in the parallel
cabin area.
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