Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 6
July 2008
Scale Model of a Satellite

Completed model
The completed model on its stand.

Only a few rocket scientists will see a satellite during assembly; after it's launched, no one will view it up close ever again. A model gives control-center operators something tangible to focus on and can even be used to plan and analyze complex maneuvers.

The actual satellite is over 50' long. I built the model at 1:40 scale—any smaller and the details would be difficult to create in wood, any larger and it would be difficult to handle. I chose maple and walnut, which contrast nicely.

For the solar panels (the two wings) and other light-colored parts, I used a maple baseball bat blank. For the main antenna (the longest strip on the base of the satellite), I used a slightly warped walnut short I found in my shop. I keep a few boxes of offcuts, which makes it easier to find blanks for small parts and repairs. The main satellite body and smaller dark parts were made from a 2" blank from my assorted wood shelf.

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