Sunday, April 27, 2008


Wood strips
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I love seeing behind the scenes, finding out how things are made. So today I was pleased to have the chance to visit model boat kit manufacturer Jotika with the rest of the KMBC members and poke around.

We learned loads. How to make plywood for example. The veneers are stuck together with 150 tons of pressure. Get your finger stuck in that press and you'll certainly know about it ! Once dried the wood is sanded down to give the correct thickness to an accuracy of a fraction of a millimetre.

Parts are then CNC milled on one of two machines. The larger one seems to spend nearly all its time making parts for the firms most popular kit - HMS Victory. It seems that this is the kit that all modellers of sailing ships aspire to. Looking at the impressive range I suppose I can understand why but they don't appeal to me.

On the other hand there is a large range of radio control models as well. I'll confess that I didn't know quite how many they produced. Of course I need another project like a hole in the head but if I am shopping in the future then having seen the care an attention to detail that goes into each model I'm sold.

The thing that struck us all most were the huge amounts of wood around the place. Just inside the door there is a serious bandsaw which reduces large chunks of tree (Jotika buy 2 a year and then leave these to season) to planks ready for finishing. There's also a huge chunk of scrap wood. Much of this has the good bits taken out but they are pretty exacting in their standards.

The main workshop has the saw for producing strip which it does in seconds making 6 strips at a time, hence the pile in the photo. There's also milling, sanding and other machines including a massive guillotine - another finger reducing bit of equipment if you are stupid !

We all really enjoyed the visit and were made to feel really welcome. Cynics might say that this was good salesman ship but I definitely felt we saw a family firm working hard. Trips like this are one of the benefits of club membership - you aren't going to get a personal tour as they haven't got time to stop work, sales are good so they need to keep the customers happy.

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