Monthly Archives: August 2013

AL’s Independence – Planking the Deck, Part 1

After completing the hull framing, Artesania Latina instructions typically have you plank the deck next, before planking the hull. This has the advantage of making it easier to access the deck for planking details. I followed the steps, but didn’t use the kit included wood which is Ramin. Instead I had some boards of Castello Boxwood on hand, so I used that instead.

I mill most of my own wood these days and had purchased the boxwood from the ship model wood supplier called The Lumberyard. I’d gotten much better. Even so, for the deck planking it looked pretty natural, so I went with it.

To cut planking, I first cut and thickness sanded some boards down to 1/8″, which is the width I chose for the deck planks. At 1/48 scale, that’s 6″ planking. If I had gone with the kits 1/35 scale, the 5mm or 3/16″ width of the included Ramin would have been more appropriate, coming out to about 6-1/2″ at full size. 1/32″ thick slices were then cut from the edge of the boards to make the planks.

Caulking was simulated by clamping a group of planks together and then painting one edge with black acrylic paint. Some people prefer to use pencil, marker, paper, or other kinds of paint, but I like the thickness and easy cleanup of the acrylic paint. One method used widely among one of the ship modeling groups I belong to work for those who rip their own planking stock. That is to spray paint one side of the board with flat black enamel before slicing off the planking strips. They will then come out “pre-caulked”. Because this is done before the strips are cut, they don’t require any kind of cleanup.


The method I use is something of a carryover from when I buy the planking strips pre-cut. But, using acrylic paint requires only a light scraping of the planks after painting.


Before laying down the planking, I looked over some of the drawings from Harold Hahn’s book The Colonial Schooner to get a sense of the locations of the deck beams. I then pencilled in the center lines for the deck beams on the Independence. This is where the butts of the planking will fall. This is also where the boards would be nailed down.


I started laying the deck from the centerline outwards beginning with the main deck. I ran the first pieces full length of the deck. Even though it’s a bit of a waste of wood if you’re opening up the main hatch, laying the full strakes helps to keep the rest of the planking straight.

Once I planked out to the width of the main hatch, it was necessary to start considering reasonable plank lengths and the pattern of the locations of the plank butts. A reasonable plank length is about 20 feet, or about 5″ on the model. Now, the main deck at 1/48 scale is about 6″ long, and it might be reasonable to say it was close enough so that it could be planked with long continuous pieces. That’s particularly true if keeping to the original scale. But, for this model, it’s more visually interesting to use shorter planks and butt them together. On the forecastle and the poop deck, I went ahead and used full length pieces to plank them. For the quarter deck, even though it’s about 5″ long, I just thought it looked more consistent to butt the planks together like with the main deck.


Where there are breaks in the deck, I stopped short to allow room for edging pieces to fit across the deck. I didn’t add the actual final edge pieces though until a later stage to allow me room to easily plank the visible portions of the bulkheads. Instead, temporary pieces were pinned into place to be later removed and new pieces would be added later.

For no particular reason, I just used what might be referred to as a 2 butt shift planking pattern. That is, as you look across a single beam, there are two planks between the butts of planks. This really isn’t authentic, but works visually for this model. What would be correct is a 3 or 4 butt shift. Or, as I mentioned earlier, due to the short deck sections, actual planks might have been  full length.



AL’s Independence – Starting the Build

First off, a correction about something I stated in a previous post that I thought the kit was really just a version of the colonial schooner Hallifax. I take it back. AL produced a model of the colonial schooner Hannah at one time and I would now say this is something of a cross between that and the Hallifax. Still it’s basically a generic model of small merchant schooner of that period.

So, about the middle of last month, July, I started the work on this project, beginning at the beginning with the framing.

The framing went together quite nicely. As I mentioned before, the slots fit together perfectly. Things lined up well and I didn’t have to file any of the slots and there was absolutely no play in their fit. Because of the thinness of the bulkheads, I felt it necessary to add some support pieces in between them to stiffen them up. Also fitting the decks into place also serves to stiffen them, but I felt it better to be safe.


While the glue was still setting between the bulkheads and inner keel, I temporarily fitted the deck pieces into place using the included brass nails. Using an Amati nail driver was a little tricky due to the thinness of the bulkheads, but I got them in. The process too a little while as the inner keel piece had a slight warp in it and it took a lot of little adjustments to get it straight and to make sure that the frame was free of twists. It’s very easy to introduce a little twist into the frame and impossible to remove it later on, so spending extra time on getting the hull perfect at this stage is worth the extra effort.


This step actually took me quite a while as I kept finding the results not quite right and  had to adjust and readjust everything multiple times. But, finally, I had something I was happy with.


After this, the stern frames were added along with bow and stern pieces to support the planking, and then the bulwarks were beveled to adapt to the curvature of the hull planking. The beveling was actually quite easy on this model as the bulkheads are thin. The first two bulkheads at the bow required the most time.


Something to note is that there are no filler blocks, unlike with so many ship model kits. There are some small support pieces at the bow and stern, but these appear to be only for providing a good surface to secure the ends of the first planking layer. Time will tell if this is a good thing or not, but it certainly keeps down the amount of time spent on sanding.

Higaki-Kaisen from Woody Joe

A recent addition to the Woody Joe line of wooden ship model kits is the Japanese Edo period boat called Higaki-Kaisen (hee-gah-key kah-ee-sen). This was a cargo transport operated by the Higaki guild of Osaka. The boats of this guild were given the charter to ferry goods between Osaka and Edo (Called Toyko today). I don’t know when this particular boat showed up, but similar vessels were around throughout the Edo period, roughly 1600-1868.


At 1/72 scale, the Higaki-Kaisen model measures a bit over 16″ long and 16″ high. This one is particularly interesting as it includes interior detail. I haven’t seen the kit personally, but I’m told that the kit is of typical Woody Joe quality with lots of precision laser cut parts and well illustrated instructions. Fellow ship modeler Richard Rubinger, a professor of Japanese history, is currently working on the model and a provided a couple in-progress photos posted here with his permission.



While he reads Japanese, Richard comments that kit is so well illustrated and clear that you don’t actually need to read Japanese to be able to build this model. This has been my experience with Woody Joe’s Kanrin Maru kit too. But, I would recommend some ship model experience if you don’t read Japanese as these kits are quite pricey and you probably don’t want to be making your first ship modeling mistakes on them.

Also, unlike with many western companies, Woody Joe sells these kits as final products and does not provide after market support. If you lose or break a piece it’s pretty difficult to get a replacement. If something is actually missing, that may be another matter, but don’t expect anything close to Model Expo’s parts replacement guarantee – Another reason to have some building experience before trying this kit.

One more good thing about choosing this kit over the other Edo period Woody Joe kits is that this was is a fairly large boat but at a smaller scale than the other Edo period ship model kits put out by Woody Joe, so it’s much lighter. That means that shipping is notably cheaper.

Woody Joe does not market internationally, so you’ll have to go through an online hobby dealer. As always, I recommend Zootoyz in Japan. They provide good prices and fast service. To get right to the page with the Higaki-Kaisen kit, click here. Being the newest, the kit is the last one listed.

Here’s the product page from the Woody Joe website…


And here is a photo of the full sized replica at sail…


If you’re interested in learning more about this type of vessel, Kyushu University has a an english language page here. Ω