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good books for a newbie

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  • Banned
  • 59 posts
  • LocationCharlestown MA
Hi guys, can anyone suggest any good beginner books on planking, rigging, and ship building in general



    Scullery Maid

  • Members
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  • LocationEastport, Maine, USA

Well, that is a difficult query to accurately answer!  I suppose that, given just the query itself, my answer would be "It Depends".


Previous experience in wood and knowledge of the ship, as well as the era or time period of interest, can all drive the recommendation.  In addition, the bias of the respondent can also alter the recommendations. 


What i offer here are a smattering of what, to me as a beginner, I have found most useful.  It is not a complete list, and is heavy on some of the older "classics".  The purist builder will find this list shocking - it ignores some of the more modern writers (such as Edward Tosti and David Antscherl) and is focussed on the beginner and the development of experertise and skill, rather than the master builder guides.  Note also that most of my recommendations below are also readily available via various book sellers.


So, here we go:


Campbell, G.F. 1991. Neophyte Shipmodeller’s Jackstay. Model Expo Co.
Davis, C.G. 1984. American Sailing Ships: Their Plans and History. New York: Dover Publications.
———. 1986. Ship Models: How to Build Them. New York: Dover Publications.
———. 1988. The Ship Model Builder’s Assistant. New York: Dover Publications.
Dressel, D. 1988. Planking Techniques for Model Ship Builders. 1st ed. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books.
Johnson, G. 1996. Ship Model Building. 3. ed.,  and enlarged, 11. print. Centreville, Md: Cornell.
Julier, K. 1993. The Period Ship Handbook. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
———. 1995. The Period Ship Handbook 2. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
———. 2003. Period Ship Kit Builder’s Manual. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press.
Lankford, B. 1988. Watercraft Modeler’s Handbook. Silver Spring, Md.: Nautical Research Guild.
McCann, E.A. 1927. Ship Model Making: How to Make Worth-While Models of Decorative Ships. 1St Edition edition. The Norman W. Henly Publishing Co.
———. 1995. How to Make a Clipper Ship Model. New York: Dover Publications.
Pariser, Daniel, ed. 2009. Ship Modeler’s Shop Notes, II. Cuba, NY: Nautical Research Guild, Inc.
Underhill, H.A. 1958. Plank-on-Frame Models and Scale Masting and Rigging. 1: Scale Hull Construction. Glasgow: Brown, Son and Ferguson.
Underhill, H.A. 1979. Masting and Rigging: The Clipper Ship [and] Ocean Carrier. With Authentic Plans, Working Drawings and Details of the 19th and 20th Century Sailing Ship. Glasgow: Brown and Ferguson.
Underhill, H.A. 1985. Plank-on-Frame Models and Scale Masting and Rigging. 2: Mastmaking and Rigging, Sailing Models and Power Craft Hulls. Glasgow: Brown, Son and Ferguson.

  • allanyed, mtaylor, dgbot and 6 others like this


Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.


  • Banned
  • 59 posts
  • LocationCharlestown MA

Thank you so much Sir.  That is more than enough! This will keep me busy for a long time.  I'm especially interested in reading about planking, spiling the planks, beveling the planks, how and where to glue planks, Pretty much everything about planking. I see a Planking Techniques book in that list. NICE!  Thanks again!





    Bilge Rat

  • 14,241 posts
  • LocationMedford, OR



For planking techniques, have a look at the pinned topics here:  http://modelshipworl...-hull-and-deck/


For more, have a look in the article database here:  http://modelshipworl...ng-articles.php


A good overall reference work (it does have it's issues) that will get you familiar with zu Mondfeld's Historic Ship Models.  No techniques as such but does give a general overview of wooden ships in general.

  • trippwj, hexnut, Archi and 1 other like this


"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:

Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0

Past Builds:
Triton Cross-Section
USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War (Gallery) Build Log
Wasa (Gallery)

Member of the Nautical Research Guild

Pirate adam

Pirate adam
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I really like the book "The Art of Ship Modeling" by Bernard Frolich.  Tons of good information in there.



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Jolley Roger

Jolley Roger
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  • LocationSouth Africa

Ship Modeling Simplified by Frank Mastini helped me on my way.

  • trippwj, mtaylor, Marcus Botanicus and 1 other like this

Current build log: Mayflower - Artesania Latina   18050200-lg.jpg


Finished build: Mare Nostrum - Artesania Latina


In the stash:


Billing Boats Bounty

Billing Boats Marie Jeanne

Scientific Bluenose

Midwest Sharpie Schooner


Samuel Pepys notes in his diary on 19 July 1667: "the Dutch fleets being in so many places, that Sir W. Batten at table cried, By God,says he, I think the Devil shits Dutchmen."



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  • LocationNetherlands

Check this one: http://modelshipworl...d-downloads.php

Lots of interesting stuff there.



  • trippwj, mtaylor and Canute like this


  • Members
  • 140 posts
  • LocationMilford, Virginia

The planking booklet that brought it all together for me is "Planking the Built-Up Ship Model" by Jim Roberts, available from Model Expo



I read the book several times and confess I didn't really understand it until I got a small plank-on-bulkhead hull and planked it using the techniques in the book. For some reason, the "doing" versus just the "reading" made it all understandable.


Cheers -


  • trippwj, mtaylor, donfarr and 3 others like this


  • Members
  • 544 posts
  • LocationNewcastle, NSW Australia
Lennarth Peterrson's 'Rigging Period Ship Models' is usually on my bench when rigging commences. Few words but excellent diagrams.
  • trippwj, mtaylor, donfarr and 2 others like this



Current Build: - Caldercraft - HMAV Bounty


Completed Ship Builds:

                                     Caldercraft - HM Brig Supply (In Gallery)

                                     Aeropiccola - Golden Hind

                                                        - Constitution

                                     Clipper Seawitch (maker unknown - too long ago to remember!)

                                     Corel - Victory

                                     Modeller's Shipyard - A Schooner of Port Jackson - In Gallery

                                                                      - Brig `Perseverance' - In Gallery

                                                                      - Cutter `Mermaid'- In Gallery

                                                                      - Sirius Longboat (bashed) - In Gallery

                                                                      - Sloop Norfolk - In Gallery

                                      Completed Cannon:   - French 18th Century Naval Cannon

                                                                      - Napoleonic 12 pound field piece

                                                                      - English 18th Century Carronade

                                       On the shelf awaiting construction: - Caldercraft  - HM Bark Endeavour 

Landlubber Mike

Landlubber Mike
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  • LocationWashington D.C.

All great suggestions here.  If you are looking for one book to buy to get you started, I would second Frank Mastini's book.  It's very basic but gives a really good overview of model ship building.  From there, zu Mondfeld and the Lennarth Petersson book (for rigging) can take you through your first build.  


If you have the money (and the time to read them), buy the other books that were mentioned.  Each has good nuggets of info.  I would highly recommend looking on Amazon for used books, as well as Abebooks.com and eBay.  A lot of these books can be bought for very little money.  Some of the more rare and highly sought after books can go in the hundreds, but the vast majority of the books mentioned here are not in that category (the Frolich book is one that is pretty pricey).

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Current builds:  Amati/Victory Pegasus  MS Charles W. Morgan  Euromodel La Renommèe


Completed builds :  Caldercraft Brig Badger   Amati Hannah - Ship in Bottle


Terminated build:  HMS Lyme (based on Corel Unicorn)  


On the shelf:  Euromodel Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde


Future scratch builds:  HMS Lyme (from NMM plans); Le Gros Ventre (from Ancre monographs)


  • Members
  • 130 posts
  • LocationNiagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

What is a good book about tall ships?  Not modelling books.  Just want a good book on ships in general, preferably with plans and drawings.

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Current Build: Mare Nostrum - Artesania Latina - 1:35 Scale


On Deck: Bluenose - Model Shipways - 1:64 Scale

John Cheevers

John Cheevers
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  • LocationNewport News, Virginia


I don't think you can go wrong with Historic Ship Models by Wolfram zu Mondfeld.

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Member: Hampton Roads Ship Model Society

Current Builds: Tugboat Dorothy  Newport News Shipbuilding Hull #1

                         Sardine Carrier which I will Name Mary Ann

                         Iron Clad Monitor



    Scullery Maid

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  • LocationEastport, Maine, USA

What is a good book about tall ships? Not modelling books. Just want a good book on ships in general, preferably with plans and drawings.

For American, Howard Chapelle Search for speed under sail or History of American sailing ships. Both include interesting narrative history and multitudinous plans. He also has one focused on US Navy - The History of the American sailing navy.

For British focus, David Macgregor provides wonderful coverage of primarily the merchant service. See his Fast sailing ships or his Merchant Sailing ships 1775-1815 (and other as well). Crothers does well covering American clippers and packets.

Oops....you wanted but one - can't help there! Too broad a topic to address well in a single book. If pushed, I say choose Chapelle "History of American Sailing Ships".
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Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.


  • Members
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  • LocationOntario

I second John's "Historic Ship Models by Wolfram zu Mondfeld" suggestion.

I just bought a copy on Amazon and it's fantastic.



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