Tag Archives: Wasen

Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Final

My first completed scratch build of a Japanese traditional wooden boat or wasen. This was a simple design that’s ideal for a first scratch build. While I’ve started scratch building other Japanese wasen subjects, this was the most straightforward to take to completion.

The project had it’s beginnings back in May of this year, when I started creating drawings for the building of the model. I started cutting some wood for it in June, but it didn’t really go anywhere until I developed the former for it in mid-October. Then, in mid-November, I got serious with it and decided to take it to completion. Finished December 3rd.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

This is the completion of my 1/10-scale model of the 15-shaku ayubune. This began with the cutting of the beams. I made the smallest beam at the bow, called the tsunatsuke, 1.5-sun square. The other two main beams I made 3-sun wide and 2.5-sun thick. I didn’t have any sugi of the necessary thickness, so I had to use two pieces glued together. I put the seam on the side of the beam in hopes that would make it less visible.

I used the beams as a guide to help me size the cutouts in the hull, which I cut with my Japanese Hishika, Super Fine Cut Saw, that I got from Zootoyz. It worked really well for this.

I found a supplier with the exact same saw in the U.S., but the cost for the saw was more than what Zootoyz charges, even when you add…

View original post 825 more words

Advertisement

Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 5

The Ayubune model is close to complete. Here’s the hull planking getting details and going on in part 5 of the build. The result is officially a boat!

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Progress continues with my 1/10-scale model of the 15-shaku boat used on the Hozu river, northwest of Kyoto. I’m 6 months into the build, but I have certainly not spent a great deal of time in actual construction. Mostly, I’ve been contemplating how I was going to accomplish each task of the build. Things are progressing quickly now.

Ayubune model with former clamped to the baseboard fixture

With the new fixture holding things in place, I taped a piece of cardstock into place to trace the shape of the hull planking. I rough marked the outlines of the bottom, bow plank, and transom on it. The planking will be cut oversized, so getting the exact shape isn’t really necessary, except to make sure that the wood I cut is large enough, but not too wasteful of my limited wood supply.

Next, I cut four straight strips of 3mm sugi

View original post 574 more words

Building a Hozugawa Ayubune Model in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

If you’re interested in modeling non-western boats, you might be interested in this 1/10-scale ayubune I’m building from scratch, based on research done by Douglas Brooks. This is a very simple small boat made for fishing and navigating the rapids of the hozu river.

Check out his blog on building one in Japan, back in 2014:
http://blog.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/search?q=ayubune

Note that this is not one of the subjects of his book.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Counting up all the major planks, transom, and beams, this Ayubune model will be made up of only 17 pieces:

  • Shiki (bottom) – 3 pieces
  • Omote no tate ita (bow plank)
  • Todate (transom)
  • Tana (hull planks) – 4 pieces, 2 on each side
  • Omoteamaose (bow platform)
  • Tsunatsuke (lit. rope attachment) – Bow beam
  • Omote no funabari (forward beam) – 3 pieces
  • Tomo no funabari (aft beam)
  • Tomoamaose (stern platform)
  • Transom Strake

In addition to these, I made patterns in paper for obtaining the proper angle for the lay of the hull planking. I have yet to decide at this point just how I’m going to fix the hull planks to that angle. But, there’s time before that needs to be deal with.

View original post 773 more words

Buying the Tosa Wasen Kit

11224318_1065597873491157_360908378737328974_n

If you’re looking to buy the kit, there is good news! There is a faster, less expensive method than trying to get it through Amazon-Japan where I got mine. I found out that manufacturer will sell direct to the USA for a very good price. To buy from the manufacturer,  send an email to the company: info@thermal-kobo.jp. For buyers from other countries. I don’t know what his policy is, but you can always ask.

51PcOLPqd-L

Price for the kit is 13,000 Yen. Shipping is via EMS (A Chinese Express Mail Service that ends with a USPS delivery) for 2,400 Yen. Payment has to be via Paypal, sending to the email address above.

This is a really good price. Makes the whole thing with express shipping only about $150. I went ahead and ordered a second kit.

The only thing that I’m not so sure about is that the kit is shipped in its own box, but wrapped with a bubblewrap bag. It’s a long box, so it seems like it would be easy to bend in half. But, I received the first kit this way and it was delivered just fine. Then again, I generally have good experiences with the US Postal Service here.

It looks like I might have been their first international sale of this kit, as the owner posted a picture of the kit shipping out to the USA on their Facebook page.

When you order one, please feel free to mention where you heard about it. Ω

Speaking at the 2016 NRG Conference

Having been involved in Ship Modeling for more than 20 years, I’ve been a big admirer of the Nautical Research Guild and the work of its impressive membership. There have been so many great modelers involved in the Guild, I feel honored to be speaking together in a combined talk with boatbuilder Douglas Brooks at the opening talk of this year’s conference in San Diego. Douglas Brooks will be reprising his talk at last year’s conference on Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding, while I’ll be adding the element of modeling them.

IMG_1804

Douglas Brooks speaking at the 2015 NRG Conference in Mystic, CT.

Granted, my portion of the talk will the shorter segment. In the 15 minutes or so that I’ll have, I’ll only be able to scratch the surface of the subject, mostly talking about resources available to those who are interested in building a traditional Japanese boat. Pretty much, just enough to give folks a nudge toward attempting one.

The other part of my participation at the conference came as something of a surprise as I was told just last month that I was scheduled to do one of the round table sessions. These are 20-minute sessions that takes place simultaneously with 4 other sessions. People attend the session of their choice, and after 20 minutes, people then switch to another table. So, basically, I have a 20-minute demo, repeated a total of 4 times (with one 20-minute break).

Having no idea what I was expected to do, I’d considered a couple possibilities. The first thing that actually came to mind that I thought would work out, was to demo some of the details of paper modeling. Having completed only 1 paper model made it seem a bit odd, but I don’t think anyone else has done it, and I actually did have some interesting techniques to show.

But, talking with Kurt Van Dahm, the NRG Chairman, and others, it seemed that the idea was to give me more time to talk about modeling Japanese boats. So, I’ll be talking a mix of building Japanese kits and building from scratch. It seems a bit odd to me, as talking about kits seems a bit like a sales pitch. The only thing preventing it from being a complete conflict of interest, seeing as how I’ve done some work for Ages of Sail, is that Ages of Sail doesn’t currently carry any of the kits I’ll be talking about. And, my most highly recommended kit, the Tosa Wasen, will only be available direct from the manufacturer.

Bekabune model gifted to me from the Urayasu Museum.

Bekabune model given to me by the curator of the Urayasu Museum.

In any case, I’ll bring my in-progress Urayasu Bekabune models and a small supply of Japanese woods for people to sample themselves, giving them a chance to sand, cut and bend them. Show a couple in-progress kits, talk about how to read the Japanese language plans, etc. A 20-minute discussion should go by pretty quick, then repeat it three more times.

I really hope it won’t end up being the lamest NRG round table discussion in history, and people will find it interesting and useful. Wish me luck!

Funakagami – A PDF Book on Japanese Boat Types

As I’m preparing for my study trip to Japan in, I’ve been checking on museum websites and such. The Maritime Science Museum is closed, except for a small museum annex, their website still lists the museum publications.

I don’t see any place to actually purchase these, but there are a couple books that you can download as a pdf. The one that immediately caught my interest had a number of Edo period boats on the cover. So, I immediately downloaded it and started looking through it.

Funakagami cover

Funakagami cover

I’m still working to understand the text, but the first part of the book is mostly old illustrations. Apparently, this is taken from a book called a Funekan, which was used by the Bakufu, or Shogunate government, to aid in identifying the many types of small boats on the rivers of the Kanto district, which is the region of old Edo (Tokyo) and its surroundings. The identification was necessary for taxation purposes.

Such a book is a boon to anyone who is trying to learn about different types of Japanese boats. There is little information about the boats themselves, but there is a nice large illustration of each boat type, and an index which classifies the boat. In the back of the book is a section which identifies the names of the parts of each boat. In the end, the text gets very meaty with, as far as I can tell, discussion about taxes, etc.

The book can not be printed as it is a password protected pdf. But, I discovered I can still copy text and take screen shots of the images to compile into my own notes. The copied text can be pasted into Google Translate or similar service. I’ve found that the translation is sometimes not as useful as the pronunciation/romaji spelling that is shown – For those who are familiar with Google Translator, just look under the box on the left, which is where you paste in the original text.

Click here to download the pdf

For me, the book has confirmed things I’ve already learned, taught me a number of new things, allowed me to see things I’d only read about, and raised a number of questions that I will be researching answers to.

Hope you find this helpful or at least entertaining. Ω

Douglas Brooks’ Japanese Boatbuilding Class Project

American boatbuilder Douglas brooks recently finished teaching a one-month class on building a traditional Japanese wooden boat at Middlebury College, in Vermont. The subject was a boat that was once used on the Agano River in Niigata Prefecture.

DSC_0005 (28)

What an awesome class to be part of! The students did an amazing job. I can only wonder if they realize how fortunate they are to have been part of this experience.

DSC_0089 (14)

You can see more photos and description on Douglas Brooks’ blog here. Ω

Building the Tosa Wasen – Part 6

The next step in construction of the Tosa Wasen kit is the addition of the deck boards.

This part of the build turned out to be a lot tricker than I’d expected. This is an area where you really want to take your time, and it’s easy to want to rush through it. The deck boards serve as a deck to walk (or sit) on and work on, but they are also designed to be removable, allowing the fisherman access to storage space under the deck. This allows the deck to be kept clear and free of clutter, making for a tidy looking boat.

IMG_1936

Beam supports glued into place. The beams are sanded to fit, but I left them unglued, so they’ll remain removable. Ledges are then cut to length and glued to the beams for the deck boards to rest upon.

The deck boards themselves are rather interesting in that they are made so that almost no two are alike. Each one can only fit in one location, with the possible exception of the boards that cover the live wells in the center of the boat. But, given that there are many boards, it would seem to be something of a puzzle trying to figure out which one fits where. To make the positioning more obvious, there are two lines scribed into the top of the boards.

IMG_2035

The lines form a sort of an arrowhead with the point at the front of the forward most board, and each compartment has a 3 or more deck boards covering it, with its own arrowhead pattern scribed on it. This makes for a quick recognition of the order of the deck boards and also makes it easier to keep from mixing them up, kind of the way a picture is printed on jigsaw puzzle pieces.

Note that one deck board of each set has a square notch cut into one edge that serves as a finger hole to make it easier to pull up the boards. This also makes it easier to pull up the boards on the model using a paperclip or other small tool.

IMG_2041

IMG_2042

Live wells with holes in the bottom of the boat, open to the sea. The large one is for the catch, the small one is for bait.

The kit supplies the deck boards as laser-cut pieces, which look they’d make it easy to put them into place. However, in order to allow some variation between models, these parts are cut over-sized, so they have to be sanded to fit. This turned out to be a far trickier than I’d expected, as the Japanese cedar is pretty soft, and really wanted to avoid small gaps between boards. In fact, I used every scrap piece of cedar that I could find in the kit in order to finish the deck boards.

If you’re building this kit, Proceed Very Carefully here.

The next step was to scribe the patterns into the deck boards. I found it easiest to take each group of deck boards which are part of the same pattern set and marking the endpoints on the first and last board, then scribing them all together as a group. I lined them up against a straight edge to keep them in alignment (each set of boards has at least one straight side).

This was pretty much the last of the difficult work. There is one more step that was a little tricky, but in a completely different way, and that was the next step. For those following along with the kit instructions, this is step 33. This involves the construction of the covers for the cargo compartments in the bow and the stern of the boat. If you haven’t built the model kit yet, I would consider doing this work in steps 17 and 18 before the compartments are decked over. It seems it would just be a lot easier.

IMG_2033

I’m not positive why the kit has you build the compartment covers at this stage instead of earlier in the build. Possibly, it’s because the real boat might be built in the order shown in the kit. That would be okay, except that trying to reach in with your finger and thumb to get the covers into place without knocking parts into the compartments is pretty difficult.

The kit includes a small pair of wooden tweezers that you’re instructed to build for handling those compartment doors. In the long run, these will be necessary in order to be able to remove or replace these doors without damaging the soft wood.

Completing the Rail

I jumped ahead just a little bit with the compartment covers since I was kind of on a roll with the trickier stuff. So, afterwards, I went back to deal with the rail supports. These are tapered blocks that are added to the rail after it has been constructed. By constructing the rails first, the nice fair curve has already been established and doesn’t need to be engineered into the design. Afterward, the support blocks were added to give the structure more rigidity.

You can see the support blocks of the rail in the photo below, and also in the second photo shown above.

IMG_2037

 

Finishing Details

The last steps of the Tosa Wasen kit involve adding the finishing details. These included the rail supports, oar, ringbolts, anchor, oar and some fisherman’s accessories.

Dealing with the details on the boat first required drilling some 2mm holes to accommodate the ringbolts, etc.

IMG_2044

Ringbolt and the pin for the sculling oar added to the stern beam.

IMG_2043

Ringbolt and, for lack of better term, “belaying pins”, which are mounted on the bow beam.

The kit includes some accessories that I jumped ahead and worked on because they looked fun and interesting. Specifically, there are two wooden seats, a small hand-paddle, and a bailer for scooping water out of the boat.

IMG_2045

 

The laser-cut pieces are designed to create nice box joints between all the parts, and as with everything else, the parts go together in a perfect fit. This is true of the bailer as well as the seats. The hand-paddle, called a Tekaki, was the only item here that required any shaping. Everthing else just went together and took a little sanding to soften the edges just a bit.

Afterwards, if you don’t want to display them on deck, they fit quite neatly in the storage spaces below the deck.

IMG_2046

 

The Sculling Oar

The boat, like most traditional Japanese boats, is propelled by a long, rearward facing sculling oar called a “Ro”. The sculling oar in this kit makes an accurate representation of a Japanese sculling oar. The plans show the cross-section of the oar at different points along its length, and the scale is large enough for people to see the shape detail.

The oar comes in two main pieces where were milled, not laser-cut, from Japanese magnolia, or “Ho”. This is kind of a grayish colored wood with a fairly fine grain that is harder than the cedar or cypress in the kit.

I varied a bit from the kit design here in that the kit included a tiny screw and nut to fasten the parts together. This is how the real Ro are made today and for the last 100 years or so. But, going for the Edo period look, I decided to wrap them together with rope instead.

IMG_2084

The anchor is the last item of this build. Not sure how they form this, but it seems like a piece of cast acrylic. It’s just a ted flexy, but has a good shape to it. It comes a little too thick, so it required some sanding to get it to look a bit more like the photos in the instructions. I ended up speeding up the process by using my belt sander. The part held up well and didn’t melt, so this worked out pretty well.

The anchor’s shape has a bit of taper, so it’s thinner at the top than at the bottom. At the base, there is a hole from a cross piece, making it look something like a grappling hook.

IMG_2071

The hardest part was tying the knots. I tried translating the text with Bing Translate, but all I got was a Japanese name for the knot. However, Google Translate came up with “Bowline”, which made life much easier. Basically, there’s a bowline at the base, a pair of half hitches, and the a separate rope ties the anchor cable to the eye of the anchor. The cable is then fastened to the ringbolt on the stem using a bowline.

A short piece of the supplied rope for the anchor cable was needed for the loop that secures the sculling oar. When not in use, that loop of rope stores away nicely under the deck.

IMG_2086

The finished project turned out beautifully. I used a coat of natural stain to finish it off and seal the wood. According to the label on the Minwax can, it seals, so that should help the longevity of the model as well as bring out some of the color of the wood.

I’ll eventually build a case for the model. With not masts, a cased Tosa Wasen model will fit easily in the bookcase. My Wasen Display is still running at the bank in San Francisco’s Japantown, but I have plenty to do with other projects, so I won’t worry about adding this model until Wasen Model Display 4.0 maybe in the Summer.

IMG_2087 IMG_2070 IMG_2085

Again, this is a great model kit for those interested in traditional Japanese boats. Email info@thermal-kobo.jp for ordering information. For now, the kit has a very low price – about $130 shipped by express service, payable using Paypal. If you would, tell them I sent you. Ω

Building the Tosa Wasen – part 5

Continuing with the detailing now starting with the bow and stern decks.

The bow deck required installation of support beams. The beams are provided pre-cut, but the ends needed to be tapered to fit snugly against the hull planking.
IMG_1905

 

The deck itself is made up of two pre-cut pieces of cedar.
IMG_0286

 

The stern deck is made up of 5 pre-cut boards, but the pieces are of different widths. The instructions don’t show you, but the plans provide the labels, so you can locate the needed pieces. You don’t have to read Japanese, but you do have to match the characters on the plans with those on the parts.

To those familiar with Japanese, the labels are all in the phonetic alphabet known as Katakana. In this case, the parts are:

ウカイ

ウカロ

ウカハ

ウカニ

ウカホ

These characters don’t actually mean anything here – They’re basically no different than labeling parts as A1, C2, etc. Most of the parts in the kit are identified this way.

Something else to note is that the pieces aren’t necessarily placed on the sheets in any order. Efficiency of material was very obviously given precedence here, so related parts may be separated  quite a bit. You can see this by how these deck pieces are located on the laser-cut sheet.

IMG_0287

 

The deck parts were glued up and I then placed them on the hull and traced the edge onto them using a pencil. This was then trimmed by knife and sanded to fit the hull. As I mentioned before, trimming Japanese cedar with a knife can be quite tricky as the wood is soft and the grain is hard, so the knife catches the grain and wants to follow it, so extra care is required.

IMG_0283

 

One thing you’ll notice is that the part labels are etched onto each part, so you have to either hide the labels or sand them off. Or, you could always just ignore them. They’re not that easy to see unless you’re looking closely. In this case, I just glued the boards so that the labels will all be on the underside of the deck.

IMG_0285

 

Adding the Rail

We’ve now come to the stage on the Tosa Wasen model where I became a bit confused about the next step of construction. It involves installing a rail, and I suppose that it may simply be a matter of getting accustomed to traditional Japanese building methods which, as far as I can tell, this kit seems to follow quite closely.

The first problem I ran into was that the ends of the long rail pieces that have to be added first. These are notched to fit to the beams at the bow and stern, but the pieces are too long to fit. So, the notch at one end can be used, but the other end has to be cut to deepen the notch.

More than this, where on a western style ship, we’re accustomed to installing framing and then attaching the rail onto that, with Japanese boats, the process is reversed. The rail is installed to only a few attachment points first, then the supports are added afterwards. This is something that I’ve seen in hull construction of Japanese boats too. The hull planks are edge fastened and bent/clamped into place in the process, and the framing is installed afterwards – Lessons in traditional Japanese boatbuilding!

Page 12

 

Of course, this isn’t limited to the Japanese or Asian ship/boat building. Thinking back, I recall local ship modeler and marine archaeologist Ed Von der Porten (he’s written a number of articles that have appeared in Ships in Scale) talk about modeling a Basque whaler and about how frames were added after the planking process had begun.

Anyway, I finally worked it out in my head, and the rail construction progressed.

IMG_1907

IMG_1911

 

I completed construction of the rail, adding the pieces that make up the underside. With these in place, it’s a much stronger structure.

To fit the pieces into place, I had to soak the cedar pieces a little bit to impart a slight bend or twist here and there. I took the shortcut of wrapping the pieces with a wet paper towel and putting them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. This was just enough to do the trick.

IMG_1914

 

Along the underside of the rail on the upper hull planks there is a laser-scribed line to help position the underside pieces of the rail.

IMG_1915

 

The pieces glued and clamped into place
IMG_1917

IMG_1912

After the rail was completed, I went ahead and added the stem and other hull details, including a thick strake located on the upper hull planking, just underneath the recently completed rail.

IMG_0364

 

You may notice that the stem is lighter than the rest of the hull. Like the stern beam, the stem is make of Hinoki or Japanese Cypress instead of Sugi, Japanese Cedar.

Painting the Hull Bottom

Next, it was time to paint the bottom of the hull. The finish of the hull bottoms changed a bit over time. But, what we see as common for the Edo period would be black paint. The kit actually included a roll of narrow yellow masking tape from 3M which worked very well. For paint, I used a model paint sold by Caldercraft as part of their Admiraly Colors line.

There was no particular reason I used this other than to test the paint out. For all other wasen models I’ve built, I used artist’s acrylics Mars Black from Liquitex. In fact, the result using the Caldercraft paint was just a bit shinier than I would have preferred, but it came out fine. I keep trying other hobby paint brands and often end up just coming back to the artist’s acrylics.

IMG_0367

IMG_0369

IMG_0370

 

While I was at it, I went ahead and added the splash rail, which sits on the bow deck. The joint where the two piece meet and also the bottoms of the pieces had to be beveled to fit properly.

IMG_0368

 

IMG_0371

 

Finally, I built the well area. This was pretty straightforward, though I did start to run into little discrepancies in parts alignment, which is going to happen on kits with pre-cut parts. Also, a reminder that it’s REALLY easy to over sand the kit’s Japanese cedar.

The bottom of the boat will be comprised of covered compartments. So, beams and ledges will be added to seat the deck boards / compartment covers. The well section is the tallest compartment.

Here, I’m adjusting the position of the ledge that I’m gluing into place on one of the well partitions. I used wood from the sheet of deck covers as a guide for exact positioning of the ledge. This assures that the deck covers will be flush with the tops of the partitions.
IMG_1931

 

Here’s the completed well area. Note the ledges glued to the hull.

IMG_0381

 

Before the deck covers can be added, beams and more ledges have to be added. I’ll cover this next time, along with the covers for the bow and stern holds, making the “Ro”, which is the Japanese name for the long sculling oar, and the final accessories such as the anchor and the bailer, etc. The next installment should see the completion of our Tosa Wasen.

Building the Tosa Wasen – part 4

Last time, I left off with the basic hull completed. Now comes the detailing.

A pair of beams are provide which are attached directly on top of the upper hull planks. These are first tapered from underneath so that at the ends they are reduced to half thickness. The fore beam referred to here as the ツノ or Tsuno (tsue-no), and the stern beam is the オオトコ or Otoko (oh-toe-koh). The heavy stern beam in particular is a common feature of traditional Japanese boats as it is used to mount the rudder on some boats, and usually bears the seat for the sculling oar.

IMG_1887

IMG_1888

One thing you might note about these beams is that the parts are made from a lighter colored wood. True to the original boat, instead of the Japanese Cedar used for the hull planks, these parts were usually made out of Hinoki (Japanese Cypress) because its greater density and strength.

IMG_1894

At this time, there are some extension pieces located at the midships frames (I was calling them beam initially, but now they’re built-up high enough to call them frames or bulkheads). I don’t know what it’s called yet, but this boat has an extended rail outside of the hull and these pieces are the central supports for it.

These small pieces initially had a lot of char from the laser cutting on top and bottom. I was as careful as I could be to not take off too much material. But, the cedar is relatively soft and it sands a little too easily here. But, I seemed to manage okay and essentially got the char off.

By the way, something interesting about that space between the frames that you see in the photo. In the center portion of the hull bottom, there are a few holes. I believe that this might have served as some kind of “live well” that must fill with water through those holes. There are in fact, two sets of holes. Near the forward bulkhead, there are two smaller holes in the bottom, and I believe these open into a smaller, separate section that might have been for storing bait. I’ll report on this at another time after i’ve collected some facts.

So, next step was to add the upper and lower slotted beams, which will hold removable doors to allow access into the bow and stern storage compartments. The ends of the beams had to be sanded down to fit nicely in place.

 

IMG_1892

A special template is provided to make sure that the beams are properly aligned. One side of the template is used for the bow and the other side is used for the stern. The angles are different enough so that it’s pretty obvious which side is used for which end of the boat. You don’t need to read Japanese to figure that much out.

IMG_1897

IMG_1901

One of the issues I ran into was that the tops of the upper hull planks weren’t perfectly aligned. So, I made an extra effort to make sure the gap between the upper and lower beams was consistent.

After the stern pieces were done, I assembled the floor of the bow storage compartment. Interestingly enough, the two pieces that make up the floor aren’t two symmetrical halves. In fact the joint between the two doesn’t even run parallel to the centerline of the ship. You can see what I mean when you look at the photo.

IMG_1900

I’ll cover the completion of the holds next time. The next step is to add the deck beams to the bow compartment and then the add the bow and stern decks.