AL’s Independence – New Stem, Sternpost and Keel

After the initial planking went on, it was sanded down carefully where it will meet the keel, stem and sternpost. The kit calls for adding the second or finish layer of planking next. This is a common practice with the AL kits and it works very well. The planking strips that are provided are very thin and flexible and with the keel, stem and sternpost out of the way, it’s quite easy to glue the planks down where you want them. Once this is done, the keel and such are added. To get a good fit, you may have to trim a little of the planking and sand the inner edges of the stem and other pieces until you have a perfect fit with no gaps. But, this is where I am deviating from the standard instructions.

I decided I’d add these pieces before planking and I would create a rabbet into which my finish planks would fit. It may actually be harder to build the model this way, but it feels more authentic. For most people, particularly beginning modelers, I recommend simply following the kit instructions. The method is pretty easy and it works very well and I think you’ll be very happy with the results. This is a feature that I think makes AL kits easier to construct than others.

I had decided from the start to replace the finish planking in the kit with either cherry or pear wood. I’ve done other hulls in cherry and used cherry quite extensively, but I’d never done anything using pear. I have some pear that I bought from The Lumberyard and I thought it would look nice and the model. I’ll also be doing deck furniture on the model in cherry, so I thought a different wood for the hull would be better. So, I went with pear for the hull.


The kit drawings were then photocopied to get the shape for the stem and sternpost and then outline the stem for the individual parts that make it up. Speaking of making it up, I really don’t know much about stem design, so I dug through some of my references and just came up with something that seemed to look correct.

The drawing was then cut up and glued to a pear sheet that I’d milled down to 3/16″ thick. The pieces were cut apart with a scroll saw and then worked to shape using the bench sander. Final shaping was done by hand until the pieces fit nicely together. I used a little black acrylic along the edges of the joints to get the seams to stand out and then glued the pieces together using thick CA.


After gluing up the pieces, the holes were drilled in it for the gammoning rope and the bobstay. The stem was then sanded to a nice gradual taper, and then I went over the seams with a scribing tool to enhance them a little.

Fitting the pieces into place required a bit of work. For the planking to lay flush against the sternpost and keel means that the hull has to be sanded down so that it is thinner than the these parts where they meet, allowing room for the planks. Also, it means that the parts have to be perfectly centered when they’re attached, so extra care is required there.


For the stem, I glued on a narrow strip of wood so that a rabbet is formed where it meets the hull. Still, the hull planking has to be trimmed so that the stem fits properly and so the planks will run nicely into it.


From a distance it looks really nice and you can’t see the scars and the filler used on the inner hull planking. All of this will be covered by the hull planking anyway.





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