Monthly Archives: January 2020

Workbench Recommendation – Cutting Mat

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, but I have been working on things. So, to get things rolling again, I thought I post a little recommendation regarding a workspace upgrade I recently made.

I have a large cutting mat I bought from Ages of Sail last year. It’s A2 size, which means it’s about 18″ x 24″ (16.5″ x 23.4″ actual). It’s nice to have a large surface to work on. It saves the desktop from getting cut or scraped, and from glue and paint spills. For a little over $26, it’s a bargain for what it does.

The mat also has a grid, which can be useful at times, though this one is in centimeters, which I find useful. But, some may prefer one in inches. It’s also marked with a few lines that provide easy visual guides for 30, 45, 60, and 90 degree angles.

Note the worn spot near the bottom edge of the mat toward the left. The mat recently saved the table from some thick CA glue that oozed out of the bottle. I could clean up with some acetone, but it stripped the printing off the mat. A good trade, I think.

However, it dawned on me that there is a larger size cutting mat available. It’s A1 sized, which is about 24″ x 36″ (23.4″ x 33.1″ actual), which makes it pretty much a match for a standard drafting table, which is what I’m working on most of the time.

Ages of Sail did not have the item listed in stock, but it turned out they have several in stock. I was there just recently, so I figured I’d pick one up. I got it home and it covers the surface of the table perfectly. Of course, I don’t want to spill on it, as I don’t really want to have to buy another one. But, thinking about it, that’s exactly what it’s for, and it’s better to have to replace it eventually than having to refinish the wooden table underneath.

And, if it gets too ugly to look at with lots of cuts and stains, I can always flip it over. The other side is the same blue color, just no printing on it.

Ages of Sail just fixed their listings and now you can find them here:,-24%22-x-36%22,-pkn6001.html



Spanish Galleon Kit – Santiago de Compostela

New kit now available at Ages of Sail is a nice looking Spanish galleon, the Santiago de Compostela.

1/72 scale is somewhat unusual for a ship model kit, but several have started to appear in recent years. One nice thing about this scale is that there are a lot of figures available.

I don’t know about this specific kit, but there are some nice looking and usual subjects available from Disar Model. The kits I’ve seen also come with things like pre-sewn sails, laser-cut bulkheads, photo-style instructions, and a re-usable, compartmentalized parts box that actually snaps shut (if you’ve gotten parts boxes in other ship model kits, you know why this is a “thing”).

Looks like it lists for $204, which is a good price point.

Ages of Sail

Santiago de Compostela is a 1/72-scale wooden model kit of a 16th century Spanish galleon. It’s a new kit from Disar Model of Spain. It’s a plank-on-bulkhead kit that features laser-cut structural parts and high quality woods for planking.

The ship is a beautiful four-masted galleon, which is rigged with square sails on the first two masts and lateen sails on the last two.

This new kit from Disar Model of Spain is now in stock in limited supply. As with all Disar Model kits, this kit includes step-by-step photographic instructions, so you can see how to build it. A full set of fittings of metal and wood are included. Colorful flags and a set of pre-sewn sails are included.

The Santiago de Compostela model measures about 29.5″ long and 20.4″ tall when complete and will make for a beautiful display in your home or office.

Order yours here:,-1-72).html

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This is a Battle of Trafalgar Diorama???

I’m usually writing to promote ship modeling and products made for ship modelers. After all, the more promotion of the subject and more support for the manufacturers, the more interesting projects we’ll find to build. So, I was looking at some of the offerings by the Spanish wooden model company, Disar. They make some okay stuff, and recently, I’ve noticed some much nicer products coming from them.

The kits they produce seem to have decent wood with fittings stored in compartmentalized plastic box that is actually useful, long after the model is complete. Their instructions are pretty complete and in step-by-step photos style, and many of the subjects they produce are fairly unique – not just another HMS Victory or Bounty, etc.

I started looking through their downloadable product catalog for some information on them, and for those of you interested in buying their kits, they don’t sell them on their website, but you can get them from Ages of Sail and elsewhere. But, it was while looking through their catalog that I found something that made me laugh.

I found a diorama kit labeled The Battle of Trafalgar. The famous battle that saw the victory of the British fleet, but the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. the battle saw lines of French and Spanish 3-decker warships cut by the British lines. The classic, epic battle of sailors fighting from behind wooden floating fortresses. So, I’m not sure that this is a very good representation of that famous battle…


In addition, they offered The Battle of the Nile diorama. Again, a famous battle which saw a victorious  British fleet was commanded by Nelson. But, again, I’m not sure who thought this was a good representation of that battle either…

Now, it might have happened, but I can’t understand the point of a ship’s boat battling with an enemy ship’s boat while the massive warships were engaged in battle. I mean, if you were in this scene, and you sank or captured the other ship’s boat, who would really care? It wouldn’t have affected the overall battle in any way, except maybe preventing the enemy from pickup up their own survivors from the sea.

I guess it’s an interesting product for someone, but I would recommend not trying to link it to one of these major battles. I think what’s best about it is the idea it suggests of putting a small boat model into a diorama. It’s a neat idea and dioramas are always fun to look at. Ω


Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen

A relatively simple Japanese boat is being modeled in 1/10 scale and is it coming along quickly. Here’s the first part of the build log of the Honryousen, a model of a 25-foot riverboat that was one of the recent projects worked on in Japan by boatbuilder Douglas Brooks. This boat was primarily used for fishing and for transporting gravel from dredging and construction projects in Niigata prefecture.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

In 2019, boat builder Douglas Brooks had developed a project together with an organization called The Apprenticeshop, to go to Japan and build two traditional Japanese boats with two different Japanese boat builders.

The two boats were a Niigata kawabune called a honryousen built with Mr. Nakaichi Nakagawa, and a Himi Tenmasen, built with Mr. Mitsuaki Bansho.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks

The Honryousen, or simply Honryou, is a riverboat built in a style called itaawase, which simply means “plank joined”. That the term refers to a boat built entirely of planks, including the bow and stern – basically one with no cutwater. While not exclusive to Niigata prefecture, this was very common on the rivers there.

The Honryousen that Douglas Brooks built with Mr. Nakagawa was dubbed “DNB Maru”, named for Douglas, and the two people from the Apprenticeshop that came with him to Japan, Nina Noah and…

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