the first step is to decide on your hull-form and then sketch it onto some stiff card
(a thin piece of plywood or masonite would be even better) get the edges as smooth as possible
tape the template to a likely-sized bit of blue board and fire up the hot-wire,
I am using the cutting table that I built and explained here ,
I attached the template to one edge and cut the corners first
I cut the templarte with that funny straight part at the end so as to make a "key" to ensure that I got it square after I flipped it over, there is only one because it only occurred to me after I had cut the other end, if you plan to do this learn from my mistakes
don't try to hit the end right off, cut in from the side
and head toward the ends of the template from there
one side finished and the template needs to be flipped over and taped back down
it occurred to me that I should have used the unmarked side first,
fortunately the block of faom was exactly the size I needed
an hour later and I had more hulls than I knew what to do with
by tilting the hot-wire in the clamp I was able to cut some with "tumblehome"
that funny inward taper of the hull as it rises from the waterline
the rest I cut square
eleven hulls in just about an hour (including time to draw and cut the template)
now all I have to do is finish them!
I will follow the progress of one of these in the near future, pointing out things that I learned the hard way while building the Armored Cruiser and (hopefully) suggesting better ways to do things.
In the meanwhile here are a few sources of info that I find handy;
The first and foremost; Conway's "All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1860-1905" it literally covers the entire PreDreadnought eara, lots of neat drawings (but no top-down views)
Second, VitualScratchbuilder, if he can do it in 1/700 I should be able to try in 28mm!!
Third, Big Bad Battleship lots of neat photos and drawings, clearly a labor of love by the author!