ccoyle

For Beginners -- A Cautionary Tale

94 posts in this topic

I should probably update my post a little - my very first wooden ship model, after years of plastic models,  was a Midwest row boat, made a couple of them, before tackling the Dumas Coast Guard 47 ft Utility boat model, but for this one my local hobby store owner - an accomplished modeler in his own right - gave me almost one-on-one guidance (since I bought the kit from him), from that I moved on to the Artesania Latina kits always choosing one that was in the 18 - 24 inch range finished.  All of this was way before there was even an Internet or an MSW.

 

That's the advice I give to anyone who asks me how to start building wood boat kits.  Of course, Midwest in no longer in the kit business but there are probably other manufacturers who built small boat kits for beginners similar to Midwest's selection of kits.

Elijah, EJ_L, Ryland Craze and 1 other like this

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Maristella has come out with an interesting approach in their 4-ship beginner set.  I think that's right term.  Each one builds upon the previous.  They don't appear to be long-term projects but teaching tools that make a nice model.   It will be interesting to see how they do with this.

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I wonder how many uncompleted build logs are actually completed ships. I build very slowly, so never started a build log because I will start, work like crazy for a couple of weeks, put the model aside when another hobby project catches my fancy, and maybe not return to the build for a year.If I had a build log, I might be embarrassed to come back and suddenly start posting again. I also start my build with a clean work bench, but about halfway through I have toy soldiers, model airplanes and whatever stuff my wife gets tired of looking at in other rooms stacked sort of haphazardly on my work bench. I'm not taking and posting any pictures of that mess.

Just because someone has lost interest in a build log doesn't mean they've lost interest in the build.

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One last update:

 

Please remember, the target audience for the original post was FIRST-TIME Modelers. It was intended as a cautionary tale and no more. It was not a grievance about unfinished build logs. Unfinished logs are what they are -- unfinished logs. We don't need (or even desire) to cull them. We have plenty of room for them.

 

I have heavily edited my original post to 'soften' its perceived tone a bit, and I have deleted portions of a few other posts that referenced portions of the original post that have been removed. When this conversation has run its course, I will probably further prune this thread a bit simply to make it more relevant to new members.

 

None of my posts were intended to give offense, and I have taken none in return. If you feel the need to post in this thread, I only ask that you keep it civil, and try to keep it on-topic (and yes, I know I made the comment about corgis -- that post will be pruned, too).

 

Cheers, everyone.

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Chris, have removed my posts, your revisions has made them inappropriate and I like the changes. I also didn't intend offense but it is something I seem to do often, probably never change.

jud

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Reminded of a story. A Friday nite beercan from Rush Creek to Chandler's Landing and back. It was dusk, and flat. We had rounded and were ghosting with the kite in 'maybe' 3-4 knots. Upwind comes a Harmony 24 who just dropped her genoa. A young boy was on the bow, covered with lines and draped with the sail. It was a silent kind of evening, and over the water floats this plaintive little voice saying "Daddy .. what the sh*t do I do now?"

 

Thus it is with first time anything. I appreciate and agree with Chris' cautionary tale. However, I think that we, as a community, might extend the paradigm a bit. One doesn't tell a landsman that he is on the fore topmast. It takes time and help (yes, and training) to get anywhere in an area as complex as this can be. Some of our threads are populated by people that are the equivalent of Olympic, America's Cup, or Volvo champions. Pity the young foredeck monkey.

 

Can we make a separate space for first-time, intermediate, modellers, where they can post and ask, and we can help and comment, without their being intimidated by competing with some of our member's exquisiteness? I know this is not politically correct, and has implications for being on 'the second tier', but someone who is truly interested in the 'hobby' and wants to learn and grow, may find it useful.

 

Just saying.

 

Ciao. John

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rather than wonder why any build log stopped PM the builder and ask what's up, do you need help?, did you give up? what can we do to help you?

 

 

I like this idea. If the person has simply lost interest, chances are, he won't be here reading the PM anyway, so no harm done. But if he is lurking and scratching his head in bewilderment, such a friendly nudge might be just the thing he needs to speak up. :)

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Reminded of a story. A Friday nite beercan from Rush Creek to Chandler's Landing and back. It was dusk, and flat. We had rounded and were ghosting with the kite in 'maybe' 3-4 knots. Upwind comes a Harmony 24 who just dropped her genoa. A young boy was on the bow, covered with lines and draped with the sail. It was a silent kind of evening, and over the water floats this plaintive little voice saying "Daddy .. what the sh*t do I do now?"

 

Great story, thanks for the chuckle. The boy is lucky he has a dad who is out there sharing with him.

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Can we make a separate space for first-time, intermediate, modellers, where they can post and ask, and we can help and comment, without their being intimidated by competing with some of our member's exquisiteness? I know this is not politically correct, and has implications for being on 'the second tier', but someone who is truly interested in the 'hobby' and wants to learn and grow, may find it useful.

 

    I would not recommend this.  I believe I would have been ill served if I had been forced to go into the kiddies pool until I learned how to swim when I first signed aboard.  Being able to see the various levels of accomplishment helped highlight what I was getting into and let me know there were many like me.  Meanwhile it also gave me a goal to strive for.

 

    Looking at the build logs of some of the more accomplished modelers helped me learn the terminology and gave me an appreciation for the quality that could be achieved.  I was also able to take away little pieces of "how to do it".  I may not be able to build a whole model like a master, but I can plank like one (that's my story and I'm sticking to it), or I can paint like one, or make thingamabobs like one.

 

    Throwing out a question while bobbing around in the main pool ensures that everybody sees it.  If there was just a beginners section, the question might only be seen by other beginners and those veterans who might specifically be there to do some mentoring. 

 

    I see nothing wrong with the way it is now.  Just my 2 euro's worth.

Edited by Chuck Seiler

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Chuck,

 

I agree with you on this point.  Back on MSW 1.0, there was a "division" but by materials.  Plastics had their own build logs and many of the builders felt like second class citizens.  Why go back to that?    We were all beginners at some point and if it were not being able to mix and mingle with the experienced builders, most of us would have walked away from this hobby calling it "elitist".  We're all just builders and the attitude around here since day one is "helping each other".  

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I agree completely with Chuck.  My first build in the main kit area probably got a lot more attention, and I got a lot more advice, than it might have if I was in the 'newbie' area that maybe wouldn't have been as heavily traveled.  I've also learned a huge amount by reading build logs of much more experience modelers.  

 

I may not be able to scratch-build an amazing ship like Dan Vadas, but darned if I don't learn a great deal about techniques and tools while watching him do it!

 

The beautiful work that others do made me truly stretch my abilities and try things I would have never considered when I was building the AVS, and I'm extremely grateful to everyone that I learned from on here for that.

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I am with Chuck, Mark and Brian, I got into this hobby when I was unemployed and looking for something to keep me sane in what I thought would be a long search for employment. Had I been shuffled off to the newbie section I doubt I would have been exposed to the other more skilled builders here, some of whom have inadvertently nudged me into the world of bashing and scratching (sounds like a disease dont it?) Now I have pretty much thrown caution to the wind and am scratching my own masts, I dont think I would have ever attempted that with out looking over the shoulders of the more experienced and the guidance and input of those who stop in to say hey. Are my masts 100% correct? He!! no, but I am having fun.

Ok, back to building my Cross and Trestle Trees, for the 3rd @&@%#$ TIME!! :P :P

 

Sam

Edited by src

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I think it is great having those who build masterpieces and those who put together the simplest of boats in one pot. Shows that you are competing with your self fand not with others. I love seeing my first plywood boat next to a fully framed victory. Plus, the drive seeing that the masterpieces are still made from wood by mortals is enormous.

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Nothing wrong with posting an idea in my book John. As long as people can discuss it like adults. Its when the name calling and such starts that it becomes a problem. I was actually for your idea until some others posted the potential down side.  :)

Sam

Edited by src

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But ...
There are beginners, and "beginners".
My dad was a good woodworker.  As a youngster I watched him build our first (1:1) sailing dinghy.  Shortly after that (age 13) I built my own (sailing) kayak.  I kept it in a shed in a boatyard where real yachts were built, and I used to spend ages in there, bothering the shipwrights with questions about what they were doing and why.
I inherited my dad's love for wood and for woodworking.  I built up a good selection of tools, but I directed myself towards DIY stuff around the home, and later into toymaking for craft shows.  And it was many, many years before the first idea of making a model ship occured to me.
That wasn't until just over 3 years ago.
I was 76.
So I was a 'beginner'.  But I knew a bit about wood, and what it could do.  I knew something of how a carvel-planked boat was built.  I had tools.  I could take an Artesania Latina kit and say yes, I can see the principle here - I just have to do it smaller.

Now imagine someone without that background who admires a model of (say) HMS Victory, and then sees a kit in a shop, or on an online website, for building that very same ship.
It's a kit, isn't it?  Like those Lego kits for building lorries (trucks) or cranes or whatever?  Ah, maybe it says 'glue not included'.  But is that enough of a warning that a LOT of knowhow and skill (or maybe just plain commonsense) is going to be needed if that kit's going to turn into a displayable model?
And tools.

I'm sure that dedication (plus perhaps money) can compensate for any initial lack of an appropriate grounding when it comes to building a wooden model ship from a kit.  But it must be hard.
I think anyone who actually completes a first build - regardless of complexity - deserves a LOT of praise.  I also think that anyone who embarks on a first build, and has the character to come and share his/her experiences with us all here, deserves every ounce of help, guidance and encouragement we can give him.

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Well said probablynot. I will be one of those who will be embarking on a first build and plan to document my progress here. I've read through all the comments and believe that being able to share the journey of a build (with all its challenges and rewards) with this supportive and engaged on-line community is the best way to encourage individuals starting out. Let's face it, we are all geographically dispersed and it can be hard to find people locally that share this interest - so this on-line community makes this hobby so much less isolating.

Elijah, Altduck, EJ_L and 5 others like this

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Chuck,

 

I agree with you on this point.  Back on MSW 1.0, there was a "division" but by materials.  Plastics had their own build logs and many of the builders felt like second class citizens. 

 

But, they are... :huh:

 

 

Just kidding! ;)  :P

 

 

Now imagine someone without that background who admires a model of (say) HMS Victory, and then sees a kit in a shop, or on an online website, for building that very same ship.

It's a kit, isn't it?  Like those Lego kits for building lorries (trucks) or cranes or whatever?  Ah, maybe it says 'glue not included'.  But is that enough of a warning that a LOT of knowhow and skill (or maybe just plain commonsense) is going to be needed if that kit's going to turn into a displayable model?

And tools.

 

That sound like me. Wanted to build one of those type of ships, so I started to search for books on how to build wooden kits.

 

I had background in metal, resin and plastic models, so I thought wooden kits shouldn't be that different. Boy, was I wrong, and glad that I bought a book or two on how to build wood boat kits. Reading through them I realized there was a lot more to it than plastic models, epically tools and a lot of DIY elbow grease at the end of the day (take into account, I have had zero woodworking skills).

 

So, I decided to pick up a small boat kit, and glad I did. Just wished that I knew of this site, could have saved me a lot of frustration and time by making a log and getting input from others (as well as the articles on the site etc.).

 

If I started with something like the HMS Victory kit, I probably would have paused it, and started with something easier smaller.

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All very good comments and suggestions.

I can not remember what got me started as it was a loooong time ago.  I do think about why it still holds my interest.  So here are a few more thoughts:

1. this hobby of wooden ship building requires many skills - working with wood, metal, plastics, paints and glues.  So practicing the various skills and learning about the various skills and chemicals is challenging and rewarding.   It seems that there are so many skills sets to work on, such as carving cherubs.   

2. the process of building a model ship (wood or plastic) is a journey - one that has its own rewards.  

3. selecting a ship to model must have some meaning to you, whatever it is, such as your granddad or great uncle sailed on it, or you read a story about it that stirred your imagination.  If you have no passion for it, then you may never want to finish the build. 

4. and the ship of your choice must be fun to build.  (No one wants drudgery in their hobby.)

 

Keep building and above all, have fun~!                                Duff 

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In my mind the question is "What makes a person give up building a model" ?  Both beginners and advanced modellers procrastinate, stall, lay a model aside for awhile, and often just forget the whole thing. I think one big reason are unforeseen problems. Novices, obviously, run into problems more often than veterans and are more likely to lay it aside, and combine a novice with a more complex model and likely more complications arise. I have built 4 POF models and 2 solid hulls. On my current Toulonnaise, a 20 year old model which I have been working on for 6 mos, the carronade fittings on all 8 broke. In trying to figure how to fix the issue, I had no clue. I had to figure it out and laid the model aside. I finally picked it up and fixed the issue. Then, in a blunderheaded move, the round ports were found to be too low on the hull(always learning!). Now I have to move them which will take some time. But, I like challenges. Novices run into an issue like this and maybe forget the whole thing, but if I had not started with easier models and built up the problem solving experience, I might have done the same. Other issues that arise that lend to quitting(poor instructions, boredom, de-motivation, poor materials, etc) have been mentioned, but starting with easier models and building up was helpful in acquiring what little skills I have and it helped problem solving. Just my 2 cents.

 

Chris

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You bring up some excellent points, Chris.

 

If the instructions are poor, come to NRG-MSW.

 

If you become bored or de-motivated with the model, sell it and get one that stirs your imagination and passion.

 

If the kit has poor materials, replace them with better.  If there are too many issues with materials, then scratch build it. You can use the bulkheads and keel and hopefully some of the fittings.  You can buy decent wood from Crown timber already milled to your specs and suppliers such as Bluejacket have lots of fittings.

 

And, you are quite right - us modelers are problem solvers.  We have to figure out how to hold parts, how to shape them using the tools we have, we decide the type of materials to use, the best glue and mechanical fasteners, the best finishes, etc etc. 

You are the artist and crafter, so you decide how you want your model to look.                                                             Duff

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It's worth pointing out that beginner over-reach is not unique to our hobby, nor is cautioning zealous newcomers. Just today I stumbled across a video with the same message aimed at beginning fishkeepers. No doubt a concerted search effort would turn up many more.

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A little advice from a beginner to all new beginners.
 
I started 10 years ago with my model of the Wasa.
After 10 long years full of unexpected problems I approach finally the completion of my model.
Have i 10 years just built this model?  Certainly not, and certainly dont do this yourself. You will lose your interest in this hobby
In summer i build a wooden ship, in winter my military models.
When the ship starts to bore me, I switch to the military.
 
so :
 
Start with a model that is not too big, you got to have room for it when it is finished.
 
But find a ship model that makes you feel good or you'll lose your interest in building the model.
 
Not too expensive. if it fails, you just lost your money.
 
If you are unsure of starting a build log, start it only when you have build something (like me).
 
If you are unsure of the next step in building your model, search the Internet or ask advice on this forum.
 
If someone at home asks you when will the model be ready?? Just say this is a hobby, there is no hurry, it's just fun building it.
 
If you want to build a model ship :
This is a great forum where you can always ask for help when you're in trouble
 
 
But,
 
I go every year for a reunion (gathering) of plastic modeling.
Every year I see the same faces...
Every year we all are a year older....
There are apparently few young newcomers who practice our hobby.
If only one out of ten newcomers continues to carry out this hobby
Then we all should be happy, I think.
 

Greetings to all of you

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Many years ago, I had a friend who was interested in building a model ship. I suggested the Model Shipways Virginia Pilot Boat model which he purchased. As we worked together we often had lunch together and I would always ask how he was coming and offer help. His answer was always "I got it out but was afraid that I would mess it up." I suspect that upon his too early death, the kit was thrown out.

 

My advice to beginners would therefore be a little different:

 

Get busy and build the model before you lose interest! Your first model will not be a collector's item. You will make mistakes. Hopefully your second model will be better than your first. Today, as I build models, I still make mistakes, and as the model goes forward, I tend to remember them more than the successes, but after the model has been sitting for a while in its case in my study, I look at it and realize, wow! This is a good representation of XXXXX.

 

This is a difficult craft and not moving ahead until you achieve perfection, will prevent you from mastering it.

 

Roger Pellett

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Thank you Roger Pellett for your post.I am a novice at wooden model ship building and I find myself in that same position.I can not give myself permission to make a mistake. I chose as my first build ModelShipways "Rattlesnake" thinking that my knowledge of carving duck decoys and furniture building would see me through.I did not realize that when they say "build a ship model" they mean BUILD! Now I'm hung-up on Knightheads & Timberheads and the plans & manual are vague on the length of each.The plans seem to indicate the Timberhead is shorter than the Knighthead,but photos I've seen show them both terminating at the bottom of the cap rail?Any suggestions?

 

Thank you, Tom Towle

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Roger,

 

    Well said.  You are EXPECTED to make mistakes on your first one, that's why is should be something like the Virginia Pilot Boat (or whatever is on sale).  I have had several early models where I have essentially made twice.  Build a part, throw it away, build it again.  Build an assembly, tear it apart, build it again.  The value is in the learning.

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Funny how those mistakes turn out to be invisible to your friends and family. I actually pointed out mistakes when I showed my model, until a friend politely said the model looked great and wondered why I was telling him it didn't.

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I think it is because they have a few moments to take in the entire model, whereas you have had hours to create, then agonize over that mistake (and the 3 mistakes you made trying to correct the one mistake).

 

I look at my PHILADELPHIA model and look at the many rope coils.  A casual observer would say "Wow!  A lot of rope coils" and move on.  I will look at it and remember how THAT coil took 3 tries to make.  THAT coil replaced the one I made and somehow lost.  THAT coil I accidentally glued to my finger.

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There is also the fact that often the average person doesn't know what they are looking at to know if it is right or wrong. When I go visit my dad at his Mustang restoration shop, I can see a car in there and go wow!, that is a great looking car. He can then point out the different items that make it not so great. 

 

My first wooden ship model was also the Rattlesnake. I'm proud of it because I built it without having any idea of how to build wooden ships. Prior to that they had all been plastic. Although I proudly display it in a case in my bedroom, it has so many problems from horrible planking, paint, badly built masts and yards to rigging that is far from accurate. My friends and family are of course both polite to not criticize but they are still truly amazed at the work that I did. Most of them are craft hobbyist of one sort or another and so they appreciate the work but none of them have the interest in ships to know what is wrong.

 

Don;t worry about work being perfect. Especially first builds since unless you are unnaturally talented and a good deal lucky, they won't be. Instead give it your best effort knowing there will be bad spots. Then grow on the next one and the next one. Challenge yourself more and learn more on each ship. As long as they continue to improve and most importantly you are having fun, then you are doing good.

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There is also the fact that often the average person doesn't know what they are looking at to know if it is right or wrong. When I go visit my dad at his Mustang restoration shop, I can see a car in there and go wow!, that is a great looking car. He can then point out the different items that make it not so great. 

 

I will always remember the time my wife was showing a painting of the USS Constitution to one of her friends, and announced it was the Cutty Sark (her friend nodded knowingly). Innocence of such techie things, is one of the reasons I find her irresistible (I guess that is sexist.. I am a terrible person).

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