Category Archives: Ship Model Techniques

Cross-Locking Clips for Rigging

This week, I’ve been dealing with rigging on a Amati’s American galley gunboat kit, the Arrow, as they call it. It’s a small model with an enormous number of cleats that lines have to get tied off to. While working on this, I realized that some beginning ship modelers might appreciate knowing one of the techniques I’ve used for years. It’s nothing new, and I’m sure most ship modelers already know this, including beginners. But, just in case, I thought I’d mention it today.

Rigging the Amati Arrow Gunboat kit.

When rigging a model, especially when belaying lines, tying them off, seizing them into place, etc., you want to make sure you’re lines are taught as you do it. The problem is that it’s hard to keep a line tight as you’re working on it. If you have really good manual dexterity, you might be allocate one finger to keep a line held down, while the rest of the fingers are busy securing the line into place. For those of us who aren’t gifted with such surgical grace, what to do? Everyone who’s rigged at least one model has some method they use and it may work quite well. I titled this post specifically about cross-clips that I really like for this job, but here are some ideas that I use, including the clips.

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Improving Basic Details – Getting the Gratings Right

Gratings are common a feature seen on old ships, as they can be used in place of hatch covers to allow ventilation below decks. They’re also be useful for standing on to keep out of pooling water and to maintain one’s footing on a wet deck. On a model, they are a feature can stand out as an indicator of the builder’s attention to detail, or the quality of a kit, for good or bad. Now, there are a few ways to make your own from scratch, which is what I do, but you don’t have to go that far to simply improve the look of the gratings on your model. Here are a couple simple things you can do to improve their appearance on your kit-built model.

Grating on my model of the Colonial Schooner Independence

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Improving Basic Details – Wayward Blocks

This is really more for beginning ship modelers. Experienced ship modelers, and probably most beginners too already understand the way a standard rigging block works. It’s basically just a wooden block with a pulley, or sheave, inside a slot. There are different sizes and types, and there are single, double, and triple blocks, and just about ever wooden ship model needs at least some number of blocks.

Standard Amati single-sheave walnut blocks

There is one mistake I occasionally see regarding blocks. To me, it’s such an obvious error that it detracts from the entire build. But, the thing is, after a modeler completes so much work on the hull, deck details, masts, and all, I really don’t want to point out the error. So, I figured it might be best to just mention it here.

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Simple Planking Clamp from Binder Clips

Binder clips are those handly, spring-steel clips used to hold many pages of paper tightly together. They come in different sizes and for many years I have found them extremely useful as strong clamps.


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Tired of X-Acto Knives? Try a Scalpel

I’ve seen scalpels recommended by ship modelers before, but never really thought to try one until recently. Yes, a scalpel – that scary knife used by surgeons that want to cut you open. It was recommended to me in particular when dealing with paper modeling because scalpel blades are thinner than X-Acto type blades.


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Stainless Steel Blackening

I like to use straight pins for various things because they’re very strong, very hard and perfectly uniform sizes. I’d love to use them for visible bolts on a model as the heads are perfectly shaped. Problem is that paint doesn’t stick too well to stainless steel. I’d like to be able to use a blackening product on them if it would work okay, but “Blacken-It” doesn’t work too well on stainless steel.

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