Tag Archives: Plank on Bulkhead

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: https://www.thenrg.org/plans-and-projects.php#!/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: https://modelshipworld.com/topic/21441-hms-winchelsea-1764-32-gun-frigate-group-project-info/

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


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.





AL’s Independence – First Planking of the Hull

Here’s is where the fun begins and the ship starts to actually look like a ship.

Artesania Latina kits are a bit different from most others in that the stem, keel and stern posts are added after the hull is planked. This has the advantage of keeping these parts out of the way as you plank, giving you a little more breathing room. Additionally, it keeps these parts out of harms way.


Most kit manufacturers make these parts part of the inner keel or keelson as some call it. For those who like to add a rabbet, this is a bit of a pain as you must figure this out before you even begin constructing the model, and you generally have to figure out its location on your own. Some manufacturers, like Model Shipways, make the keel pieces separate and give you an idea where the rabbet line is. The separate pieces make the cutting process easier.

In the case of AL kits, you really don’t even have to worry about cutting a rabbet. The inner keel piece is thinner than the keel itself, and with the separate keel pieces, all that matters is that your planking at the keel edge isn’t thicker than the keel itself. Something you don’t have to worry about much until later in the build.

In any case, planking the inner hull begins with the bulwarks formers. This has been a common Artesania Latina feature for as long as I can remember. The trick in adding this piece is to get the pieces lined up evenly on both sides. The photo book that comes with the kit is a big help in seeing how the piece lines up with the deck at the bow and stern.

I used the scuppers as a guide since they need to be at deck level, or more precisely at the level of the waterways. Since the plans don’t show a raised waterways piece, I just lined up the holes at deck level. The stern was easy enough to line up so that the bulwarks pieces formed a very low lip at the deck’s edge. The bow required the most care. The plans call for an opening at the bow, 5mm wide for the bowsprit. So, I just made sure to take a lot of time to get this lined up nicely.

Rather than gluing the formers into place right away, I used brass nails included in the kit to hold them into place. I’ve generally liked using the Amati Nailer for this kind of work. The nails allow me to make adjustments to the position of the bulwarks former if necessary. I recommend measuring the height of the bulwarks from the deck on either side of the ship to make sure everything is even. Once I was happy with the position, I then used some thick CA glue applied from inside the hull around the deck edges and the bulkheads.

The planking strips in the kit work well. They are 2mm by 5mm strips of Ramin wood, which is a little fibrous and splintery when dry, but bends well when wet, at least at this thickness. There’s more than enough included in the kit to do the job. When I was done, I had about a good 16 strips left over, so lots of room for error.

Planking began right under the bulwarks former. The first three strips I added without tapering. The planks do require a little soaking in water, and then I used a heating tool to bend them. You might be tempted to bend the planks across the bulkheads right on the model, but doing that usually introduces a lot of flat spots that will take a lot of time and filler to fix later. So, bend first to get the curvature right before putting them on the model.

I used yellow carpenter’s glue for the planks with push pins holding them in place. Where necessary, I also use binder clips and small plastic clamps in strategic locations. Planks are glued to the bulkheads as well as to each other. I didn’t worry about making a mess here as the inner hull will get sanded later and will all be hidden in the end anyway. Of course, some care had to be taken to keep the deck nice.

After those first few planks, I dropped down about four plank widths below the last plank and laid a plank down naturally so that there was no need for edge bending. This plank was tapered as were all subsequent planks. Planks above this were then laid in and cut to fit in the band. Since I measure the space in terms of plank widths, all planks were full width at the midships frame. I repeated this process dropping down 4 or 5 plank widths and filling the opening.

IMG_0191Finally, I started at the keel with what was technically the garboard strake and worked upwards from there. The last plank had to be specially cut to fit the last opening. I kind of lucked out and found that a full width plank would fit with just a tiny gap remaining, which I’d take care of with a little filler later. The whole process went pretty quickly and did require the use of a couple stealers on each side.

The last bit planking was at the counter at the stern of the ship. The hull planking had to first be correctly trimmed first. Then, I added the last two pieces that make up the stern framing and planked the counter.

After all the planking was done, I carefully trimmed any plank edges that were sticking up, then sanded the whole thing down with some 60 grit sand paper. When it was mostly smoothed down, I used some Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler to deal with any gaps and sanded some more using 150 grit sand paper.

DSC01625 DSC01626 DSC01631

Finally, I gave it a once over, looking for bumps and checking that the joint with the bulwarks former was even. All is well!

AL’s Independence – Planking the Deck, Part 2

At the edges of the deck, I cut some 1/32″ thick boxwood sheet and create a margin plan that the deck planks would be joggled into. The round shape of the Forecastle deck required me to make that margin plank from several pieces. I’ve always had a problem trying to figure out how to make scarf joints so that they don’t interfere with the joggling of the planks. I did my best, but I obviously still need to work on my technique there.


I’m not positive on this, but the Joggling or nibbing of planks may not have been necessary. Some reference I’ve read suggested that it was not done on small ships and that it’s not clear just when the practice began. It was regularly seen on ships of the 19th century, but not so much information prior to that. Model Shipway’s instructions for their Fair American kit says that the ship was too early for nibbing, and that was writting by master ship modeler Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.  That was written in 1978. Have we learned something more since then? I don’t know. I just followed the examples of other ship modelers who have nibbed planks on their models of the same era. If you want to keep things simple and skip it, there’s certainly good precedent for doing so.



One thing I’ve always enjoyed doing on my ship models is to add treenails to the deck, either actual or simulated. I like the process and I like the detail. Real treenails don’t stand out on deck planking, so I try to keep mine subdued. I’ve never liked light colored wood models speckled with dark treenails that make them look like they have a bad case of the measles. Also, treenails should be to scale. A 1″ diameter treenail, at 1/48 scale, should be about .021″. That’s a #75 drill bit, which is what I chose to use here.

As mentioned in my previous post, lines were drawn on the decks to represent the locations of deck beams. This served as a guide for laying down the butts of the planks. This also serves as a guide for locating the treenails. The pattern of treenails came from an illustration in the book Historic Ship Models by Wolfram zu Mondfeld. There are a couple patterns as shown in his book. I’m hesitant to post published materials, but I haven’t had a chance to create my own illustration for this and I’m only showing a piece of one of his illustrations (yes, I’m making excuses), so I’m showing it here.

Scan 3

From Mondfeld

The pattern on the top is the one I used. I’ve noted that Don Dressel’s book Planking Techniques for Model Ship Builders only shows the lower pattern. I don’t know if that one is more common or not, but certainly the pattern I chose is simpler.

I decided not to make actual treenails, something I’ve done many times in the past, but to simulate them by filling the holes with sawdust and glue mixture. Afterwards, the deck was lightly sanded and wiped down with a very light coat of Watco Natural color Danish Wood Oil.

Once the deck was planked, I went ahead and added the planking for the exposed portions of the bulkheads at the breaks of the decks. I used 3/16″ cherry for this, laid vertically, and edged the planks with pencil. The bulwarks interior will be done with cherry also.

Finally, the boards that edge the deck were laid and I went on to the planking of the hull.

AL’s Independence – Planking the Deck, Part 1

After completing the hull framing, Artesania Latina instructions typically have you plank the deck next, before planking the hull. This has the advantage of making it easier to access the deck for planking details. I followed the steps, but didn’t use the kit included wood which is Ramin. Instead I had some boards of Castello Boxwood on hand, so I used that instead.

I mill most of my own wood these days and had purchased the boxwood from the ship model wood supplier called The Lumberyard. I’d gotten much better. Even so, for the deck planking it looked pretty natural, so I went with it.

To cut planking, I first cut and thickness sanded some boards down to 1/8″, which is the width I chose for the deck planks. At 1/48 scale, that’s 6″ planking. If I had gone with the kits 1/35 scale, the 5mm or 3/16″ width of the included Ramin would have been more appropriate, coming out to about 6-1/2″ at full size. 1/32″ thick slices were then cut from the edge of the boards to make the planks.

Caulking was simulated by clamping a group of planks together and then painting one edge with black acrylic paint. Some people prefer to use pencil, marker, paper, or other kinds of paint, but I like the thickness and easy cleanup of the acrylic paint. One method used widely among one of the ship modeling groups I belong to work for those who rip their own planking stock. That is to spray paint one side of the board with flat black enamel before slicing off the planking strips. They will then come out “pre-caulked”. Because this is done before the strips are cut, they don’t require any kind of cleanup.


The method I use is something of a carryover from when I buy the planking strips pre-cut. But, using acrylic paint requires only a light scraping of the planks after painting.


Before laying down the planking, I looked over some of the drawings from Harold Hahn’s book The Colonial Schooner to get a sense of the locations of the deck beams. I then pencilled in the center lines for the deck beams on the Independence. This is where the butts of the planking will fall. This is also where the boards would be nailed down.


I started laying the deck from the centerline outwards beginning with the main deck. I ran the first pieces full length of the deck. Even though it’s a bit of a waste of wood if you’re opening up the main hatch, laying the full strakes helps to keep the rest of the planking straight.

Once I planked out to the width of the main hatch, it was necessary to start considering reasonable plank lengths and the pattern of the locations of the plank butts. A reasonable plank length is about 20 feet, or about 5″ on the model. Now, the main deck at 1/48 scale is about 6″ long, and it might be reasonable to say it was close enough so that it could be planked with long continuous pieces. That’s particularly true if keeping to the original scale. But, for this model, it’s more visually interesting to use shorter planks and butt them together. On the forecastle and the poop deck, I went ahead and used full length pieces to plank them. For the quarter deck, even though it’s about 5″ long, I just thought it looked more consistent to butt the planks together like with the main deck.


Where there are breaks in the deck, I stopped short to allow room for edging pieces to fit across the deck. I didn’t add the actual final edge pieces though until a later stage to allow me room to easily plank the visible portions of the bulkheads. Instead, temporary pieces were pinned into place to be later removed and new pieces would be added later.

For no particular reason, I just used what might be referred to as a 2 butt shift planking pattern. That is, as you look across a single beam, there are two planks between the butts of planks. This really isn’t authentic, but works visually for this model. What would be correct is a 3 or 4 butt shift. Or, as I mentioned earlier, due to the short deck sections, actual planks might have been  full length.