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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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