Category Archives: All News

Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 4

The Tenma-zukuri chabune construction continues. Getting close to finishing this small, 1/20-scale model of an Edo period canal boat. Building it has been a learning experience, and I’m still learning as I go. Even learned something while writing this latest blog post.

Hopefully, I’ll have this model completed for my Japanese boat models display at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival next month.

Wasen Modeler

Uwakoberi, Koberi, and Iron Nails

So, with the koberi in place, I added the small deck at the bow and the ōtoko at the stern. I’m trying to find out the term for these small decks, which are more like steps. On the Hozugawa boats, the small deck at the bow is called omote-amaose. But, that’s an entirely different region, so I expect the term in Tokyo/Edo would be something quite different.

I also added the uwakoberi, which is what in the west, one would refer to as the gunwale or caprail. Each was made from a single piece of wood, wide enough to cover the edges of the hull planking and rub rail. I made mine a little wider, so that there is a slight overhang on the inboard side.

On tenmasen, the uwakoberi could be quite wide, serving as a walkway for the boatmen. I wanted…

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New MSW Scratch Build Project Available – HMS Winchelsea

Chuck Passaro, ship modeler and owner/operator of Syren Model Ship Company, recently announced on Model Ship World his plans to change the operational model of his company somewhat, and will no longer be developing new kits. He will be continuing to focus on producing blocks, rigging line, and his existing kits, but has decided to change course for future developments.

In keeping with the new changes, he has teamed up with Model Ship World to make a new online project available to NRG/MSW members. The project, which he has been developing over the course of several years, is the 32-gun British frigate Winchelsea, 1764.

Interested builders will need to be a member of the Model Ship World online forum, but there is no cost to join. As am MSW member (and MSW members are automatically registered as NRG associate members), you can then pay a $15 access fee, and you will receive details on accessing and downloading the drawings and monograph.

Payment is made through the NRG website here:!/HMS-Winchelsea-Plan-Access-MSW/p/146083138/category=13294033

Or just go to https://www.thenrg.organd click on the Plans & Projects tab, and then the HMS Winchelsea Plan Access button. A message will be sent to you on MSW on how to access and download the drawings necessary for this build.

The project is designed as a plank-on-bulkhead model project for first-time scratch builders. The drawings are specifically for a 1/4″ scale (1:48), unrigged model, with a hull measuring about 38″ long.

While this is designed as a first-time scratch modeler’s project, some laser-cut parts will be available for purchase through Syren Ship Model Company’s Winchelsea page for those who so choose. The first chapter of the monograph is also available to download on that page.

More information about the group project can be found on MSW here:

There are other group projects available to members as well, including the Medway Longboat (kit’s similar to Model Expo’s 18th Century English Longboat, but much nicer materials and detail), an Introduction to Relief Carving, as well as a 28-gun frigate, HMS Triton, build.

This looks to be a nice new ship modeling project, a great way to delve into scratch building, or to just take on a wonderful looking build-as-you-go project. Ω

Wasen Models in Miniature – A Hozugawa Downriver Boat

A quick side project in a small scale.

Wasen Modeler

After completing the Hozu river diorama and showing photos to people, I got back some very good comments that led me to think about making a gift shop sized model of a large Hozugawa kudari boat, or downriver boat. These boats are fiberglass now, but they are based on a wooden boat that the river tour company commissioned many years back by the last boat builder of the region.

My Hozu river diorama

Douglas Brooks was kind enough to share a drawing of the boat that he obtained in Japan. I worked out the measurements, and the boat comes out to about 33 feet in length. Figuring a nice sized desktop model should be no more than about 10 or 11 inches long, that would put it at about 1/40 scale. That’s actually not that miniature, but for a boat of this type, it’s certainly miniature enough. Plus, it’s large…

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Woody Joe’s USS Susquehanna Now Available!

Here’s some good news for ship modelers, particularly those interested in the early sail-rigged steamers. Woody Joe has just released their new U.S.S. Susquehanna kit. This is one of the famous “Black Ships” that were party of Matthew Perry’s squadron to open trade with Japan in 1853.

The 1/120-scale laser-cut kit measures just about 34″ long when completed. The cost is about $400 plus shipping. That makes it one of the pricier kits, but it is also one of the few kits available anywhere of an American paddlewheel steamer.

When I get caught up on projects a bit, I’d really love to build this. The kit, like many Woody Joe kits, is designed to be easy to build. They list it as 190 hours construction time, which is in comparison to 200 hours for their big Cutty Sark kit and 100 hours for their Sir Winston Churchill kit.

I’ve found Woody Joe kits to be accurate, but leaving room for the builder to upgrade the kit by adding details beyond what’s provided in the kit. Of course, you will need to deal with instructions that are only available in Japanese. But, the instructions are extremely well illustrated, and pretty easy to follow, and there is actually very little text or need for it. But, if you have a smart phone, the use of the Google Translate app will help you make sure you don’t miss anything.

You’ll probably find the kit on Amazon or Ebay. But, as always, I recommend the Japanese online shop for service and support. Here’s a direct link to the kit on their site:

At the moment, I’ve noticed that the product does not appear on the original site, but does appear on the newer “wooden products only” site (accessible from the Zootoyz home page). But, just click on the direct link above and it will get you there.


Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 3

In preparation for the Wooden Boat Festival, slow progress is being made on the Tenma-zukuri chabune. Will it be done in time? I don’t know. I’m not worried about it though. It will just give me something more to work on at the event.

Did I mention that I’m probably going to be singing at the launch of Douglas Brooks’s Japanese boat? You gotta be there to see it!

Wasen Modeler

Construction of the model continues as I’ve been working out how I want to tackle some of the details on this 1/20-scale model. The major issues to deal with are the copper mortise covers and other copper detailing as well as the detailing of iron nails used to fasten the koberi, or rub rail, plus wire nails used to fasten the uwakoberi, or the caprails. Some of this is quite simple.

Below, I’ve posted a photo of Japanese modeler Kouichi Ohata’s Tenma-zukuri chabune. He has been helpful in the adjusting of the design of the drawings and has completed a model based on the drawings.

His model is built at 1/10 scale. I may eventually build one at this scale, but for now, I’m happy building mine in 1/20 scale, and I’m considering building other wasen of the Funakagami in 1/20 scale also. It saves on space!


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Artesania Latina Going Away

It looks like the classic line of ship model kits from Artesania Latina are going away. I’ve been told this from industry sources I trust.

Many staff from Artesania had already left the company to start their own wooden ship modeling companies, including OcCre and Disar Model. I’m told this occurred as Artesania Latina shifted its production to China. Both product lines can be found in North America at Ages of Sail.

It appears that the company operations have already ceased and the website now has a generic “We’ll be back soon” message posted on it. Their products have become increasingly difficult to find, so those of you who really want to build specific Artesania Latina kits should get them while you can. Perhaps there is a possibility that one of the existing ship model companies, like OcCre or Disar, will resurrect some part of their lineup? No word on that yet, but I wouldn’t count on it.

One of the things that made Artesania Latina kits so popular was that they were just about the only line of wooden ship model kits available through the major hobby retailer distribution channels. So they were the often the first wooden ship model kits that hobbyists were exposed to. I know that is true for me.

The first wooden ship model kit I ever took notice of was Artesania Latina’s Swift kit in a hobby shop in downtown Santa Barbara, about a block from where I used to work. That and a completed model on display seriously caught my attention and hooked me for life.

Artesania Latina’s Swift

It’s sad to see them go. But, of course, there have always been tons of kits selling on Ebay, both new and pre-owned, and it will take a while before the “classic” kits like the Swift disappear for good. But, the newer popular subjects like the Surprise and Hermione are already getting hard to find. Ω



Japanese Boats Theme at the 2019 Wooden Boat Festival

I’ll be displaying Japanese boat models and demoing their construction at the big Wooden Boat Festival in Port Towsend this September. Come say hellp!

Wasen Modeler

I’ve stepped in it this time… Having agreed to participate in this year’s Wooden Boat Festival with a display of Japanese boat models, I just learned today that they are making this year’s theme “Japanese Boat Building”, specifically mentioning, among other things, Japanese Boat Models.

This morning, I received an email from Douglas Brooks, who encouraged me to participate. He sent me a link to the following blog post that was recently published by the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington.

Japanese Boat Building theme at 2019 Wooden Boat Festival

So, it looks like I’m in it as I’ll be the only builder of Japanese boat models there. I think I need to learn to be more confident about my knowledge of both the models and of Japanese boat building and to realize that I have a certain, if limited, expertise on the subject.

I’ll be bringing several of…

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Building a Tenma-Zukuri Chabune (伝間造茶船) – Part 2

I’ve been making some progress on a model of a Japanese boat from the canals of old Edo, using my own reconstruction drawings. The drawings are based on a painting from a book called the Funakagami (foo-nah-kah-gah-mee). The book was used as an guide for tax assessors to help identify the types of boats used in the city.

I used the painting along with information I could find on similar boat types to create the drawings and build this 1/20-scale model.

Wasen Modeler

In my last post, I discussed the building of a tenma-zukuri chabune from the Funakagami, and I stated that I was working on my model, but didn’t actually talk about building the model. The fact is that I wasn’t sure about what scale to build it at, given that a 1/10-scale model would end up being a little over two feet long, and I’m running low on space to display or store my models. So, I started a 1/20-scale model to see how I’d feel about the smaller scale.

I began by making a temporary internal frame. This would allow me to build the shiki, or bottom, and add the miyoshi, or stem, and the todate, or transom, at the proper angles. The same goes for the tana, or hull planks.

The longitudinal member of the framework is shaped directly from a copy of my plan…

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4th of July special on selected OcCre kits!

Here’s an opportunity to get one of the most popular and most recent kits from OcCre Models of Spain. Ages of Sail is running a special this weekend, offering 10% off the HMS Terror, the newly released HMS Beagle, and their popular San Francisco Cable Car kits. Sale ends Monday, July 8th.

Ages of Sail

At Ages of Sail, we’re celebrating the 4th of July with a sale on a few of our most popular OcCre wooden model kits.

OcCre’s HMS Beagle

OcCre’s HMS Terror

OcCre’s San Francisco Cable Car

Each of these three items has been marked down 10%. Now is a great time to try out one these wonderful kits. But, hurry, this sale ends Monday, July 8th!

Click on the links to the kit of your choice to find out more:

HMS Beagle

HMS Terror

San Francisco Cable Car

Or browse through out whole selection of products at!

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Hozu River Diorama

Finally have something new completed. It’s been a small experimental project in the background for about a year. It’s my first real diorama and my first use of model trees, insulating foam, and fake water products. It’s also a return to work on making miniature figures, and it was the figures that really held me up the most.

The Hozu river display is about 8″ square and is about 1/50 scale.

Wasen Modeler

Something I’ve been working on over the past many months, somewhat off and on, is a mini diorama. I think I was inspired by Woody Joe’s release of the first of their 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō series, the Nihonbashi Bridge. That model depicts the famous Edo period bridge that was the eastern end of the Tōkaidō and Nakasendō roads that connected Edo to Kyōto, and is made to be a diorama with a pair of flowering cherry trees and a pair of small boats on the river.

Seeing this, I thought about the Japanese river boats I was familiar with. Having completed a boat from the Hozu river, its simple designed seemed a natural choice for a small diorama. The idea was also fed by the numerous available pictures of the large sightseeing boats that take tourists down the scenic river route.

Never having made a diorama of any type…

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