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Working Faster and More Efficiently

Slow Speed Faster Efficiency Efficiently

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  • LocationConnecticut, USA

Hi folks,

I have a confession to make. I build slowly. REALLY slowly. I read build logs from some of you guys and you pump out 4-5 ships before I finish copper plating a hull. This is mainly because I am very pedantic, if I see someone has done a better job at anything on the model, I will redo my own work...thus I progress very slowly. I cannot bear to see something I have made knowing it is inferior to something else I have seen.


One of the main problems I find with building quickly is painting. I make a part, prime it, then paint it, often taking 2-3 coats and having to wait for each coat to dry. I try to parallelise my work, working on different parts while the paint dries...but it doesn't seem to help a huge amount. 


So, what tips,tricks and black voodoo does everyone have to increase build rate, whilst maintaining top notch quality?


I have anther hobby, which is growing coral reef aquariums. They have a saying in the reefing hobby - nothing good ever happens fast. Do you think this applies to model ship building?


I also have been maintaining a reef for the past 25+ years.  The two hobbies are very similar.  If there is one thing to be learned there is that slow and steady produces a "wow factor" and keeps it for a long time.  Something that's quick and easy may produce a "wow" but it will probably only be for a fleeting moment in comparison.  I would love to be able to crank out models but if they are just slapped together what is the point? :huh:   Slow... enjoy the journey, that is what any hobby is all about.  On the lighter side, it also makes a great excuse on why something is taking so long. :P



  • druxey, Landlubber Mike, Canute and 3 others like this

Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure.

Current build: HMS Leopard, scratch 1:85
Completed build:  Constellation AL Kit, scale - 1:85


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To summarize, I think Robert Louis Stevenson had it right: "It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive"!

  • cog, Canute, toms10 and 4 others like this


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  • LocationParis, France

In German we have proverb: The Road is the Destination (Der Weg ist das Ziel)


... still, I like to admire my 'destinations' in the vitrine from time to time :rolleyes:

  • cog, druxey, Duffer and 6 others like this



panta rhei - Everything is in flux



M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg

uss frolick

uss frolick
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I was always fond of the olde English saying "Well begun is half done."

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  • LocationWichita, Ks

When I first started to build model ships I had two ways of looking at time on model builds. The first was with cars. I could build a very nice, highly detailed car in a matter of weeks depending upon my time availability. I also have my model railroad which while it does take me years of building to reach a complete layout, the individual components however did not take that long.


So when I built my first ship, due to the size I knew I was in for a longer project but, I did not think it would take me 2 years!! There was so much I didn't know how to do and the sheer amount of details quickly became overwhelming and that was a plastic kit. Still I pushed through and completed it and knew that this was something I enjoyed doing. Being stubborn though I thought that my slowness was just due to inexperience and so I went in to the next build, another plastic ship, with the same time frame mentality as the last only now I thought I would be faster....


Two years later I completed that one. :rolleyes: Finally I realized that in order to do the quality of work that was both needed and wanted for a ship, there could be no rushing. This is a hobby that takes time and patience to a level beyond normal modeling. It can be frustrating and sometimes you just want to be done or move past where you are at which is why I highly recommend having something else that can allow you to take breaks. Whether it is another model or a different hobby all together I think that any ship modeler needs that relief from ship modeling sometimes. 


Truthfully the time frame of the hobby is something that is highly attractive to me. I love being able to take the time to research and learn about the ships I build. To find new ways to do something and experiment with tips and techniques. Also, I find it fun to be able to look back over a long stretch of time and see the progress on my ship. With a car, if I took progress pictures they would almost all be taken in a matter of a few days and only need about 20 pictures. With a ship, I end up with a folder full of plans, references, and hundreds of pictures stretching out over years. It almost feels like I am creating my own historical account of my builds and I feel much more satisfied at the end of the build than I ever have with other models. 

  • wefalck, druxey, Duffer and 4 others like this

"Anchors Aweigh"



Current Builds - La Couronne - Corel &  Le Soleil Royal - Sergal

Completed - Wood - Rattlesnake - Model Shipways, HMS Bounty - Constructo

                      Plastic - USS Constitution - Revel (twice), Cutty Sark.

Unfinished - Plastic - HMS Victory - Heller, Sea Witch.

Member : Nautical Research Guild






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I think there's a difference between speed and efficiency. If you cared a great deal about getting a project done in a certain time span, there are ways to plan ahead to have multiple things going at once. For example, you could start making sails and shaping masts in between waiting for planks to dry on the hull. None of this would have to be done fast, but if you worked ahead you could have lots of pre-work done with less down time between stages. None of those steps have to be done "fast", but you can still look like you're working fast if you're efficient.


Personally, though I've given that some thought, I like to work one step at a time and try to focus on the task at hand. I make enough mistakes as it is without trying to juggle too many steps at once.


I also suspect lifestyle has a lot to do with it. I don't have kids, and I work professionally from home, so I can appear to work fast sometimes because I can take quick breaks during the day to progress through stages like planking pretty quickly. Then I'll get distracted by some other project and the model will sit for a week without being touched.

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Current build: US Revenue Cutter "Ranger", Corel, 1:64


Previous builds:

Naval: 18th century longboat, Model Shipways, 1:48; Naval gun kits from Model Shipways; Bounty launch, Model Shipways, 1:16

Missouri River craft: Missouri River steamboat Bertrand, scratchbuilt in 1:87;  Lewis & Clark barge, scratchbuilt in 1:48;
Missouri River keelboat, scratchbuilt in 1:87; Missouri River steamboat Far West, scratchbuilt in 1:87

uss frolick

uss frolick
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If all else fails, try playing the soundtrack to 'The Benny Hill Show' whilst you build ... :)

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I feel a bit wary jumping in as a newbie to ship modeling, but OP did ask if there were any voodoo solutions in the speed department. One thing that noticeably speeds things up for me is to look at ergonomics. If I cut out say all the main parts of a kit in one session, I only need to get the fret saw in my hand once for all those pieces and not waste one second of time having to put it down and pick it up again (unless coffee is required of course)


Then I would file all those pieces rather than say cut one bit, file it then cut the next and so on, which would eventually see for 30 pieces me picking up the saw and file 30 different times instead of just one time. The same can be applied to using a scalpel to cut out pieces, scalpel in hand, cutting board out, do hundreds of pieces not just 3 or 4 for the immediate task ahead. Or it could be using a brush or airbrush once in a single session to paint everything of a given finish, one clean up for dozens of parts painted.


I am not for one second saying anyone should have to follow this sort of industrial approach to a hobby, or it is better approach than anybody else's or even that it always works out, but I just find modeling sessions go better for me with an ergonomic plan of what tasks can be grouped into repetitive actions rather than going back and forth between different tools all the time. I then feel I get more pondering time at an end of a session to see how this or that will go, ready to form in my head the ergonomic plan for the next session. When it works I feel more relaxed and much more prepared for the next sessions without feeling bogged down in a project.


Going to be interesting for me to see how it works out for model ship building, will my first project be a 3 month project or will it be 3 years or more? Only time will tell now.  :)

Edited by GemmaJF, 08 January 2017 - 02:11 AM.

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If it is not a challenge, it is just a chore...


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I don't wish to build slowly, neither do I build quickly.  I try and build efficiently.  By that I mean there are old ways of doing things and there are more modern ways to accomplish the same tasks. For example the old and recent masters  bend wood using jigs for steaming and jigs for bending, all of which take time.

I use a hairdryer because it accomplishes the same task in a 10th of the time.  Chuck Passaro uses only a shaping jig and a hair dryer to bend wood.  When asked "don't you have to wet or soak the plank first, he answered "just another step that isn't needed."  I agree.    There are many threads here that describe "new" ways of doing things.  I think occasionally they are poo-pooed simply because that isn't the way Hahn (or other past and present masters)  does it.  Hahn didn't have a hair dryer !!


So maybe there are three ways to build,  fast, efficiently and slowly.


my 2 cents



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  • LocationLewiston Idaho

In the U.S. the saying is "getting there is half the fun" which is  very true for me Unless I'm building something to ride in. Also if you're scratchbuilding writing an outline of the work to be done will help you stay on track and as you near the end , a sort of punch list of details helps to finish up. Tick them off as you finsh and add more if they pop up.

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Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren


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I will model if I have 15minutes or two hours. I tend to spend the time it takes to do a specific task.


Medic :D

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