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I think everyone has their own method and sequence? I can only say how I'd do it - it's not necessarily the best way - just one way it can be done. There are guys here with god level crafting precision who can perfectly shape and get close tolerances on the fly. I am not one of them!

For me, the core - any core - is always the pilot piece that everything else follows. So, I always work out the core first for the scales to follow. I do this because cuts do vary even if following a predetermined template and this matters especially when using pins because we would be very lucky to get them to align if we drill the pieces separately. Of course, you can also drill through everything in one go after assembly - I just don't like doing it that way.

First thing I do is to mark out the shape on the core - I usually I just stick-on a printout. Then I would drill out all the pin locations. This piece then becomes my piloting drill points for the scales that will follow.

Then I use the old blue tape and CA glue trick. I'll blue tape the core piece on one side and blue tape a board that is meant for a scale. These pieces can then be temporarily mated with a few dots of CA glue.

With the parts in place, I can then drill out all the the pin locations accurately, following the stuck on core as the piloting guide. This would get pins to perfectly align from the core through to the scale. I will repeat for additional scales. Then I pull them apart and clean up the blue tape. This part is tedious but well worth the time for me.

Only when the pin holes are drilled through all of the pieces, I will cut out the core as close to finish dimensions as possible, maybe allowing marginal sanding excess only.

Sometimes, I cut out the core first before going through the piloting drill process above but it does make it a bit harder to clamp down.

With the core piece cut out, I'll then use it as the template, aligning it to a scale piece by using dummy pins to temporarily and perfectly place the parts together so I can precisely mark the outline on the scale pieces following the core as the template outline.

When I am done marking out all of the scales, I will cut out just outside of the line. This usually gives me scales pieces that are just proud of the core. It should be enough to take care of any inadvertent misalignment and the slight over-cut isn't going to be too much trouble to shape down flush with the core. If you are a very precise worker and trust yourself, you can go closer in tolerance... that's your call.

I repeat this process for as many layers as I want to use. When I am done, I have a core and scales that are perfectly aligned.

Next, I would "key" and de-grease the surfaces to be mated and "key" the pins as well. I now have parts that are ready to be assembled and can move on with most fun parts of a build...

If you visualise what you need to do each step of the way, you'll probably work out your own sequence and avoid potential pitfalls... It depends on the individual I think...

Anyway, this is just my process. Hope it makes sense to you. Others may do it differently. Whatever you do, have fun and work safe!
 
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