Updated: May 19, 2020
So, how does it all begin? Making a model from scratch is no easy task. It's even more challenging when it's an object that already has been built full size in the real world. Now we must capture as much detail as possible, but in a smaller scale. In the grand scheme of things - there are 3 key aspects for a successful model - it must be easy to manufacture, easy to put together and easy to fit in a box for shipping.
Well... how is it done? How do we start?
Research... Lots & Lots of Research
After deciding which model to do. It all starts with research. Lots and lots of reading and researching of material. In the case of bible models, we always start with the biblical account. We read every detail contained in the bible and take notes. Then we research different biblical encyclopedias, biblical dictionaries and biblical magazines. We look at different illustrations and see why some biblical scholars illustrated it differently from others. As we are doing research, we sketch out and dimension as much as possible. This will help us out later when it’s time to draw. Which takes us to the next phase.
Drawing the Blueprints
From the sketches, dimensions and illustrations, we begin to draw our object full scale in a CAD program. We draw the objects from all sides (top view, side views, front, back). This allows us to check for accuracy and gives us the blueprints to scale our model from. Once the full scale object is drawn, we pick a scale that will fit in our cutting machine. This is critical - once we pick the scale and start scaling everything down, it's a lot of work to change scales. As we scale the object down we have to make sacrifices in order to make the models sturdy and easy to build. Sometimes that means adding supports that wouldn't be in the real life model. We try by all means to keep these small changes to a minimum. At this stage, we also start breaking the object into pieces - pieces that when put together will look just like the full scale object. Once we are happy with the scaled drawing of the object and the pieces, we convert it to a 3D model.
This is one of the funnest parts of the whole process. We take all the pieces and bring them into a 3D modeling software. Each piece is modeled and then we check them to see how they fit together and if there are any conflicts. This is as close as it gets to building the model in real life. The 3D software allows us to observe the object from all angles. If we find a mistake or a conflict, we can fix it before we send it to the cutting machine.
Bringing it to life
After we are confident we have found all the conflicts and mistakes, we develop a set of prototype CAD drawings and send it to the cutter. This machine will cut the pieces that will ultimately become our model. Once our prototype is cut, we start putting the model together. This is also a fun part of the process. It lets you finally see your scaled model and at the same time it lets you evaluate other conflicts you didn't see on the 3D model. Putting the model together for the first time lets you gauge how the pieces fit together - are they too loose, too tight, will it be hard to put a piece in or is it too fragile. A lot of time goes into this step to make sure the model we finally build is strong and will hold together. At this time we make any corrections that needed fixing to the drawings and then..... we cut again.
We Cut, We Build, We Fix - Again.... Again.... And Again
After we cut, we build the model over and over and over. This lets us find any mistakes or cutting errors and lets us find what's the easiest way to build the model. After we put it together, we take it apart and build it again. We also have some of our friends put it together and give us feedback to make it better. We all need a little help from our friends.
Are we done yet?
Well... not quite. Once we have built it many times and have gotten the feedback, we produce a final set of cut drawings. We optimize the drawings for space, so we utilize the least amount of wood and we also optimize it for cutting time. This also allows us to arrange the pieces in a way that saves space and we can ship it using standard box size.
So How Do I Put This Together?
The final step in this long process - the instructions. Others have to be able to put together the model and enjoy doing it. Since we have put the model together and taken it apart so many times, this allows us to produce instructions that will make it easy to assemble and avoid any conflicts. We strive to make the instructions without any text, with large pictures. It's a time consuming process, but well worth it. We also produce a parts guide that identifies each part in the model and let's the user know that they aren't missing any pieces. And last but not least - a paint guide. This easy guide let's the user know how to paint each piece. FINALLY..... we are done.