Daily Archives: September 11, 2013

AL’s Independence – Planking the Deck, Part 2

At the edges of the deck, I cut some 1/32″ thick boxwood sheet and create a margin plan that the deck planks would be joggled into. The round shape of the Forecastle deck required me to make that margin plank from several pieces. I’ve always had a problem trying to figure out how to make scarf joints so that they don’t interfere with the joggling of the planks. I did my best, but I obviously still need to work on my technique there.


I’m not positive on this, but the Joggling or nibbing of planks may not have been necessary. Some reference I’ve read suggested that it was not done on small ships and that it’s not clear just when the practice began. It was regularly seen on ships of the 19th century, but not so much information prior to that. Model Shipway’s instructions for their Fair American kit says that the ship was too early for nibbing, and that was writting by master ship modeler Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.  That was written in 1978. Have we learned something more since then? I don’t know. I just followed the examples of other ship modelers who have nibbed planks on their models of the same era. If you want to keep things simple and skip it, there’s certainly good precedent for doing so.



One thing I’ve always enjoyed doing on my ship models is to add treenails to the deck, either actual or simulated. I like the process and I like the detail. Real treenails don’t stand out on deck planking, so I try to keep mine subdued. I’ve never liked light colored wood models speckled with dark treenails that make them look like they have a bad case of the measles. Also, treenails should be to scale. A 1″ diameter treenail, at 1/48 scale, should be about .021″. That’s a #75 drill bit, which is what I chose to use here.

As mentioned in my previous post, lines were drawn on the decks to represent the locations of deck beams. This served as a guide for laying down the butts of the planks. This also serves as a guide for locating the treenails. The pattern of treenails came from an illustration in the book Historic Ship Models by Wolfram zu Mondfeld. There are a couple patterns as shown in his book. I’m hesitant to post published materials, but I haven’t had a chance to create my own illustration for this and I’m only showing a piece of one of his illustrations (yes, I’m making excuses), so I’m showing it here.

Scan 3

From Mondfeld

The pattern on the top is the one I used. I’ve noted that Don Dressel’s book Planking Techniques for Model Ship Builders only shows the lower pattern. I don’t know if that one is more common or not, but certainly the pattern I chose is simpler.

I decided not to make actual treenails, something I’ve done many times in the past, but to simulate them by filling the holes with sawdust and glue mixture. Afterwards, the deck was lightly sanded and wiped down with a very light coat of Watco Natural color Danish Wood Oil.

Once the deck was planked, I went ahead and added the planking for the exposed portions of the bulkheads at the breaks of the decks. I used 3/16″ cherry for this, laid vertically, and edged the planks with pencil. The bulwarks interior will be done with cherry also.

Finally, the boards that edge the deck were laid and I went on to the planking of the hull.