Monthly Archives: May 2015

Miniature Shipmodeling Book by Robert Wilson

Those of you who fancy miniature ship models, may be aware of the work of Robert Wilson. He has focussed on merchant ships of the late 19th and 20th centuries and his art is out of this world. I’ve had many conversations with him on the web and by email and he’s a big proponent of miniature ship modeling and of modeling merchant ships, and nobody does it like him.

Broompark (Large)


Olivebank (Medium)


For those ship modelers who are interested in trying out building in miniature, you’re in luck because Mr. Wilson has created ebooks on the subject, and just recently self-published a 158-page soft cover book in a nice, large format. Both the ebooks and the printed book are available direct from his website:



He claims that building these models is much simpler than building a larger wooden ship model kit. And, he does build several of these models a year, so there’s got to be something to what he says.

I myself bought his early CD on scratch building merchant sailing ships (in miniature), which he still sells, though in ebook form now. I also only discovered the new book’s availability a couple weeks ago, but I made sure to order a copy right away, because if I can build a model half as nice as some of the work he’s done in the past, I’d be a happy man!

As it is, I did start to do a miniature version of the Japanese screw steamer Kanrin Maru. So, maybe in the near future, I’ll be showing what I’ve learned from Robert Wilson’s teachings.

New: Swan IV Revised and Sail Making Supplement

David Antscherl’s series of books on building a “Fully Framed” model of the British sixth-rate sloop of war Swan, or one of her sister ships, is know to ship modelers everywhere as the definitive guide to building a plank-on-frame ship model as a miniature replica down to the last bolt. The series, published by Seawatch Books, has seen revised versions of the first two books in the series. And now, there is a revised version of the fourth book in the series, which details the rigging.

The book is not only revised, but it has been expanded to include a section on making and installing a full set of sails. The revised version is available for $70 plus shipping from Seawatch Books.

Image 1

For those who already have the original version, a 16-page supplement has been published which includes the full text on sail making. The supplement is only $7 plus shipping from Seawatch Books.

Lessened Activity

My apologies to anyone who has been following my blogs over the months. I work a “day job” doing some consulting work and things have been oddly crazy these past few months. This month alone was easily the busiest month I’ve had all year and this last week was the busiest week all year. Don’t know why that is, but historically, work comes in waves. This last month must have seen a tsunami…

Also, I’ve been trying to help out at Ages of Sail, which has taken a lot of extra time with much activity going on. The late Spring and Summer months are generally the slow season, so now is the time to do all the things that need to get done, but haven’t gotten done.

On the ship modeling front, this month has been about making preparations for ship model displays. Next week is the San Mateo County Fair, and the South Bay Model Shipwrights (South San Francsico Bay area, that is) are making an effort to get ship models into better public view here. I agreed to provide a couple models, so I went and picked up the Lively from Frank’s Fisherman in San Francisco and prepped it and the Mary Taylor. I’ll be taking those to the fair on Thursday.


Meanwhile, this Wednesday, I’m setting up Japanese “Wasen” Display 2.0 in San Francisco’s Japan Center. The first display I did a few months ago was very basic. This time, I have the same models, but I constructed a couple small pedestals to raise the models up about 8″ and painted them black to create more contrast. I also took a number of photos over the past several weeks and picked out a few and got 20″ x 30″ posters made. I’m working on a way to hang them up in the display window to attract more attention to the models. I’m also going to set up a photo board or two to show some of the harder to see details and maybe a photo or two of real Japanese boats. I’ll get some photos of that work online soon.

But, there was more display kind of work going on, because the NRG photographic ship model contest deadline for entry is tomorrow, and entries have to be in by the date. I decided to finally enter the Lively and Mary Taylor, so I sent in my entries earlier this week. I figure it’s more about participating since the winning entries are often ones that just blow away the competition. But, what the heck. Maybe I’ll get some good feedback on them. Anyway, I used to opportunity to take some “glamour shots” of my work.



On the ship model BUILDING front, I’ve managed to make some progress on the Colonial Schooner Independence, having finally come up with some ways to deal with the stumbling blocks I’ve come across there. On the HMS Victory, I’m spending a lot of time working on improving my parts casting experience since I’m looking at casting 100 cannons in either metal or resin. I’ve done some experimentation and I got some more equipment to try out, so look for a write-up on that. The card model, HMS Alert, also is well and progressing bit by bit, but it’s still a sideline project to pick up when all else fails.


I also took something of a break from ship modeling proper to build a Rope Walk based on plans developed by ship modeler Jerry Blair many years ago. I’m not much of a jig or tool builder, but I used to make my own model rope with a very crude ropewalk, and want to have that quality of model rope again, but maybe with a little more consistency and speed. The main driving factor here is that I need model rope for the Colonial Schooner model, and this was something I’ve been wanting to do for more than a year now. The basic machine is done and the bracket I’ve been needing just came in the mail today, so there’s no excuse to not get that finished this weekend.


On the Woody Joe front, besides my Wasen display, I’ve been trying to help out a fellow ship modeler (and potentially others too) who bought himself a Hacchoro kit, by creating a translation of the Japanese text of their Hacchoro kit. What I have is really more in note form right now, but I’m about 3/4 of the way through the instructions. Oh, and my Charles Yacht kit review came out in the latest issue of Seaways’ Ships in Scale, so now I need to decide what to write about next. But, I’ve got some ideas. More on that later.

Oh, final distraction this month – Okay, it’s not really a FINAL distraction as there are too many of those to count – but a little neighborhood theater group hit me up to record some transition music for a little play they are doing in Antioch, CA, titles The Moon Princess. I read the script and it’s a cute story, but it means diverting some energy this month. Luckily, the play is in just about 6 weeks, so I will be done before then.

Oh, well, Final final distraction. Time to get caught up on my blog posts!


Amati Revenge, 1577 – New Kit Now Listed on Ages of Sail

I can tell you that the release of this kit has been long anticipated. It was supposed to come out early last Fall, but there were some manufacturing setbacks. Since then, it was “possibly in a couple months” and that kept going for about eight months. But, this time, it’s for real. The kits are shipping from Italy and scheduled to arrive at Ages of Sail around the end of next week.

Anyway, you can read about it in their blog post.

Ages of Sail

Finally! The Revenge kits are on their way. This is a long anticipated kit designed by the very talented ship modeler Chris Watton. We’ve been waiting for the release of this kit for nearly a year, and we’ve finally gotten the word they are shipping and we should have them in just over a week.

This kit is part of Amati’s highly regarded Victory Models line. As with all models in the line (except for the HMS Vanguard) the model is 1:64-scale, and features a double-planked plank-on-bulkhead hull and highly detailed parts.




We’ve officially listed the kit on the Ages of Sail website and have opened up pre-orders with special pricing now until quantities last. Regular pricing is $549 for this kit, which we’re listing now for $499. This is a limited time offer, so make sure to take advantage of it while supplies last.

Pre-orders are now being accepted, and…

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A Super Fine-Cut Japanese Hobby Saw – Hishika Industries

Several months ago, I made a purchase from Zootoyz, which is my usual source for Woody Joe kits. When I received the package, I’d discovered that the owner, Mr. Kazunori Morikawa, sent me something to try out: A Japanese hobby saw.

Now, I’m familiar with the concept of Japanese saws, but never tried one out before. The main difference between western saws and Japanese saws is that western saws cut as you push them away from you, while Japanese saws cut as you pull them towards you. “So, what,” You might ask?

Well, a saw that cuts when you push has to be very stiff, meaning it usually has to be harder and heavier to keep from flexing too much as you push. The cut line also has a tendency to wander if you’re not careful, since the user has to keep the line of force in line with the point of contact and to keep that line consistent across the cut.

Cutting on the pull actually draws the cutting line straight between the point of contact and the line of force, so there is no wandering of the cut line and the blade can be lighter and thinner. When I tried out the little Japanese saw, which is closest in competition with razor saws, I found that the cuts were extremely straight. Certainly straighter than I’ve ever gotten free-hand with a razor saw.


The Japanese saw, besides cutting on the pull, also has very long and narrow teeth, and I found that it cuts with amazingly few strokes. Plus, the cut was so smooth, it didn’t requite any cleanup afterwards.

The blade on this saw is very thin at only 0.1mm. It’s the thinnest saw that I’m personally aware of. Because of its thinness, it would probably have a lot more flex except for the stiffener along the back of the blade, which razor saws also have. This limits the depth of cut of this saw to about 1/2″, which should be plenty for most ship modeling tasks.


The saw has a very lightweight wood handle. Were it made here in the U.S., it would probably have a heavier hardwood handle, if for no other reason than to suggest that it’s not cheaply made. But, for a hobby saw, it seems to do the trick.

This saw is comes from Hishika Industry and is listed as their “Super Fine Cut Saw” and it certainly lives up to the name. If you’re familiar with Japanese tools, you’ll know they don’t come cheap. Zootoyz made arrangements to order the saw after Kazunori and I had some discussions about the value of the saw. It was a bit of an investment for him, I believe, and I’m feeling a little responsible for him carrying them. So, I hope readers will be inspired to buy one from his website. This saw, at the current exchange rate is about $22, and can get yours direct from here:

If you are in the U.S. and interested in getting one, but have trouble with the Zootoyz website or if the shipping ends up too much, contact me here. Maybe I can work one into a group order or just piggyback one next time I order something from Japan, which is all too frequently…