Stockade fort FIW SYW
A stockade fort in the wilderness
10 Feb 2017 / Nino /

Some times back my teenage twin Sons and I built the model of a small stockade fort, or rather a fortified fur-trade post somewhere deep in Indian territory…

The base is a rectangular piece of 3-mm thick cardboard, approximately 25 x 35 cm wide.

The posts are cut from pieces of the roots of  some (unidentified) shrubs I once found growing on a sandy beach. These shrubs covered the sand dunes facing the waterfront, and their roots pushed out from the exposed side of the dunes in long, straight stretches. They were very flexible, they were straight, their bark had a nice texture, and with a diameter averaging about 5 mm they happened to be just about the right size for the posts of a 1:32 scale model stockade fort.

We cut the posts to a height of about 8 cm and sharpened one end with a small knife, and then we glued them along the sides of the cardboard base, leaving a 1-cm edge all around. We made one post every five shorter, about 4-cm high, to create firing positions. Along the inner side of the palisade we glued longer, slightly narrower root pieces to represent the strengthening crossbeams.

We left a 6-cm wide gap in the middle of one of the long sides, and a smaller one in the other. These are for the main gate and for a smaller one on the back side of the stockade fort. The planks of the gates are made with 2-mm thick card strips, as also the rails and diagonal cross-pieces which they are glued to. We made the forged iron hinge straps with card strips glued to small brass tube sections. The large flat-headed nails that secure the straps to the gate rails are made of DURO putty. The pintles are small pieces of wire bent at 90° and stuck into the gate posts. For the sake of simplicity, we did not make the gate latches, but we may add them at a future time.

The model of the cabin is loosely based on buildings reconstructed on the site of the 17th-Century Recollect mission of Ste. Marie aux Hurons, Midland, Ontario. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to visit the site, but have managed to collect a few books on the subject, including a truly fantastic cut-and-assemble booklet we used as our main reference.

This type of building is probably representative of most early French-Canadian dwellings, although a variety of other timber construction methods were also used in French America throughout the 17th and the 18th Centuries.

The house is a simple, one-story gabled building with doors and windows on two sides only. The attic has two small dormers (perhaps an unlikely feature for a make-shift wilderness cabin, but I like dormers and think they add a lot to a model building…).  The stone chimney is on the back side of the house.

In the real thing, each of the walls consisted of two offset frames of vertical timber posts holding together two parallel sets of wooden planks laid horizontally, the space between the walls being filled with dirt and stones for insulation.

In the model, which is meant to be seen from the outside only, we have omitted the inner posts and plank walls, and we have glued the outer ones directly onto a 5-mm thick corrugated cardboard structure. Before gluing the four sides together and to the floor, we cut openings for the doors and windows with a sharp knife. Finally, we framed the sides of the openings with thin card.

We have cut the posts from 3-mm thick cardboard, while the planks are 0.5-mm card strips. To represent the rough texture of the axe-cut timber, we gave the card an irregular spread of neoprene glue before washing them with a coat of diluted greenish-brown acrylic paint. The final effect is rather realistic, I believe.

To make the roof, we cut the wooden shingles from narrow card strips, which we then glued to a thin cardboard base.

We made the stone chimney with papier-mâché plastered upon a slightly tapered corrugated cardboard structure.

The cabin’s doors and window shutters are made in a similar way to the stockade fort gates.