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Bob Cleek

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  1. I've had my full-sized Workmate for about as long. I use it all the time. It's one of the most versatile benches of its kind. I've never seen the miniature "Hobbycrafter" model. I googled it. Apparently, they don't make them anymore. There were a couple on eBay for big bucks and the shipping was sixty bucks or so, too. I was dumbfounded by the prices they are asking for old big Workmates, too. If the Hobbycrafter is half the tool the big one is, I'd definitely be looking for one, but not at eBay prices!
  2. Filling cracks with anything that is as inflexible as epoxy resin isn't a good idea. If and when the wood swells up again, it will be pressing against that inflexible cured epoxy and cause greater cracking further down the crack. You'd be much better off to replace the cracked piece entirely, if at all possible, with properly dried wood of the same species. As you seem to realize, atomizing epoxy resin isn't a good idea. Inhaling it isn't at all recommended. (And this advice is coming from a guy that isn't a sissy about such things.) Epoxy isn't going to make things much more solid unless you build up a rather thick coating and standard cured epoxy resin is quite brittle. (WEST Systems epoxy markets a brand of epoxy known as "G-flex" which cures to a somewhat flexible state. It's now being used as an adhesive in full-sized wooden boatbuilding, but I don't think would do you any good in this instance. As a structural material, epoxy has to be used in a matrix of stronger material, such as glass or carbon fiber fabric or matting. Again, I'm afraid a "do over" of the damaged parts is what is required to restore your model in this case. Most epoxies can be thinned with alcohol or acetone, but I shudder to think what gunked up epoxy would do to an airbrush!
  3. Got it. The airbrush would be a better option. Applying the shellac to areas before they are closed up will prevent that in the future, of course.
  4. Yep, "satin" varnish contains simply gloss varnish and... well, essentially "dirt," which has to be kept in even suspension when being applied. It's intended to be an imitation of a real hand-rubbed varnish finish and it's a pretty poor one, to be sure. I used it once in over fifty years of yacht and furniture varnishing and I won't ever touch that junk again. If one desires a hand-rubbed finish, the honest way to get it is to hand-rub it with rottenstone and pumice to the degree of flatness one desires. A true hand-rubbed varnish finish is a delight to the eyes and the fingers. There are few finishes as smooth. Your mileage may vary, but I'd suggest simply finishing with gloss varnish and flattening the gloss by rubbing. It may be a bit more work, but, as usual, the really good jobs do take a bit longer.
  5. An airbrush will work, but I use a brush simply because I don't have to worry about masking and overspray or getting into the cracks and corners. I only apply a single coat, as thinned shellac will penetrate bare wood rather well. Adding more shellac on top of what's already soaked into the wood is really only gilding the lily. Thin as the shellac is, or should be, there aren't any problems with brush strokes mucking up the smoothness of the surface. It's barely noticeable when dried... or should be.
  6. The latter. You do the best you can sealing, depending on the circumstances, and hope for the best. Usually, an element, such as a deckhouse, can be sealed as it's completed and before installing. Sealing is best done just before painting, or what would be painting if not left natural. Planking, of course, is sealed after the topsides are faired and the job is done. The shellac should be thin so that it soaks into the wood readily and doesn't leave any visible build-up after it's dry. There will always be ambient moisture in the wood. I'm not sure, however, from where the misconception comes that it is necessary to wet wood to bend it, though. It's the heat that's necessary. Moisture, whether it be boiling water or steam, is simply one convenient way to convey heat from its origin to the wood you want to bend. The gondola builders in Venice actually bend their planks over a live fire, taking care not to burn the wood. Some experienced modelers use other types of sealers. Minwax "wipe on" finishes seem popular. I'm not sure how Minwax compares to shellac in terms of a moisture barrier, but it will serve the same sealing effect to one degree or another. It would provide a soft satin finish, and bring out the wood's color and figuring, better than shellac as it's intended as a visible finish. Shellac is capable of doing the same, but that requires a lot of hand rubbing and repeated applications, as is done with fine classic furniture, and their delicacy makes miniatures poor candidates for a traditional "French polished" finish. I can't comment on the archival properties of Minwax and other modern and often synthetic finishes. Like many materials available today, they simply haven't been around long enough for us to know. Shellac's longevity, on the other hand, is well established by the archaeological record. Absolutely! That's the first line of defense. Moisture always seeks an equilibrium. The value of a sealer is that it slows the rate of absorption and evaporation and so "levels out" the cycling between high and low humidity. That retards the amount of movement. The cyclic movement of the parts will weaken the structure over time. The less movement, the longer the structure stays strong and tight.
  7. You betcha! I avoid water-based acrylics as much as possible for exactly that reason, even though I seal my wood with white shellac before painting. Sometimes I cheat and thin them with alcohol, if that works on a particular brand. Airbrushing with alcohol solvent allows the solvent to evaporate quickly. Trying to airbrush paint thinned with water results in a wet mess every time. Oil-based, solvent-thinned "modeling" paints are getting harder to find, although the fairly new acetone-based Truecolor acrylics, claiming to be equivalent to the old Floquil, are getting great reviews. Artists' oils (Grumbacher, Windsor and Newton) are fine if you don't mind conditioning your own with acetone, turpentine, Japan drier, Penetrol, and linseed oil, raw or "boiled," provided the pigment is ground finely enough for modeling scale purposes. If it's any consolation, Paul, the seams on your model look quite like the seams on many newly built carvel planked boats I've seen. In fact, in full-size construction, it is expected that the swelling of the planks after launching will cause the stopping in the seams to bulge outwards exactly how the putty or filler you apparently placed between the seams on your model has done. On full-sized boats, the bulging stopping is sanded fair at the next haul out and paint job looks to be doing. This phenomenon can continue with a new boat for two or three haul out cycles before the planking "settles down," or stabilizes somewhat. Of course, if a boat is on the hard for a long period of time and dries out significantly, the problem will usually arise again upon the following launch. The same problems occur in building models and full-sized wooden boats. Wood is a dynamic medium, always moving, to one degree or another, depending upon temperature and humidity changes. The degree of that movement depends also upon the species of wood and the grain orientation of the wood. In the case of the model in this thread, Lime ("Basswood" in the US) shrinks 6.6% radially and 9.3% tangentially, Pear shrinks 3.9% radially and 11.3% tangentially, and Maple shrinks 4.8% radially and 9.9% tangentially. These percentages are for drying from a live cut. Once fully dried, the "movement" factor due to changes in relative humidity may vary from "live cut" shrinkage, and is referred to as the species' "stability." Stability will generally be a lower percentage of movement than "drying" from a live cut and, as said, will vary from species to species. The ratio of movement radially and tangentially after initial drying will likely be proportional to the stability of a species. The Wood Database is an excellent resource. A handy hyperlinked version of their print book can be found at https://www.wood-database.com/basswood/ It's important to remember that the actual distance of movement multiplies relative to the size of the piece. Thus, a one quarter-inch wide plank might move +/- 4% with wide fluctuations in humidity, which would be nearly negligible over the width of a quarter-inch plank, but if, say, sixteen quarter-inch planks are butted against each other, the total movement of the four inch width of quarter-inch planking will move in total almost an eighth of an inch, which, if it's shrinking, is a lot more than the elasticity of the wood is going to endure without splitting, and if it is expanding, will be enough to induce stresses in the structure to which the planks are attached to cause catastrophic failures. In full-sized vessels, transversely cracked frames are a frequent result of planking expansion, often caused or exacerbated by driving caulking too hard or filling seams with inflexible, hardened stopping or splines of harder wood species. Regardless of species, wooden boats are always moving structures, some more than others for a variety of reasons. Some, the Vikings' longboats as a classic example, are even intentionally engineered to flex in operation. Models are different only in a matter of scale. What doesn't "scale," however, are the laws of hydraulics. The amount of pressure created by the water in the wood doesn't vary according to the size of the wood. The water in a tiny piece of wood expanding isn't going to compress any more than the water in a large piece, even if the amount of expansion is proportional to the size of the piece. Sealing wood by coating or impregnating it with some water-resistant material will slow, but not stop, movement because it retards the absorption and evaporation of moisture in the wood. Much as many have tried, there is nothing found as yet that totally "encapsulates" wood. Indeed, the unintended consequence of limiting wood's ability to "breathe" in the marine environment can often create a more favorable environment for decay fungi. Balsa-cored fiberglass decks were once thought to be an innovative solution to achieving lightweight panel stiffness until it was discovered that "water will always find a way" and moisture entering through poorly sealed fastener holes and such soon caused the balsa cores to decompose to rotten mush. As models won't be living in the water, the problem is less severe. One of the best sealers is also one of the oldest. A coating of white shellac is an excellent sealer for model parts. Coating planks with white shellac ("white" because it's the colorless type versus "orange" shellac, which is unbleached.) It won't prevent the wood from moving ever, but it will slow down the absorption and evaporation cycles causes by ambient humidity considerably. The fewer movement cycles, the less stress is placed on the structure over time. I'm sure a lot of experienced modelers already know this. Those who have experience in full-size wooden boatbuilding certainly are familiar with these principles. These comments are offered for those who are in their modeling "learning curve" where others of us were decades ago. As for myself, most of what I know about this was learned from experience, A mistake is a lesson that isn't soon forgotten.
  8. Ooops! I overlooked that little detail. No, I'd say it wasn't a kit model in that case.
  9. Beautiful work! I love them! I also love my LEROY and other brand Rapidograph pens. There is nothing that produces the "snap" of a line like good old India Ink. I tried those Micron fiber-tipped technical pens once and they couldn't come even close. What mediums are you using for color and shading?
  10. If your model was built in the 1920's it certainly was a very well done model for its time. The standards have risen over the years and the speed of that has accelerated in the last few decades as miniature machine tools, computer numeric control machining, and other technological advances have found their way into model-making. Considering the tools and materials your great-grandfather had to work with to build that model, he must have been a very accomplished model-maker. It appears that it may have been an early kit model. Ship modeling was a very popular hobby in the last century up to WWII, which was a bit of a distraction, to say the least. Thereafter, television reared its ugly head and men started sitting on their butts and watching TV after work every evening. That put a major dent in the modeling hobby. The advent of injection molded styrene plastic models breathed some life into modeling generally in the 1950's, but by then it was mainly a pastime for kids. Serious adult modeling seems to be making something of a comeback in the last decade or two, perhaps encouraged by the internet which opened access to the research and information necessary, and the availability of on-line retailers for what would otherwise be a smaller market that would not be well-served by "brick and mortar" hobby shops. For these reasons, I would consider your model to have some historical interest from the standpoint of it's being an excellent example of an early kit-built model. You may want to inquire of Bluejacket Shipcrafters whether it is one of their early models. They would know more about it if they could identify it as one of theirs. ttp://www.bluejacketinc.com/ Please do read the posts about packing models that are here in this forum. PLEASE, do not put it in a box full of packing peanuts or other such material. That is a sure way to damage the rigging. Packing a finished rigged model for shipping is a rather delicate procedure. A model such as this one, if it is to last, should be kept in a proper case and displayed out of direct sunlight and damp air. In the meantime, you can carefully cover it with one of those light plastic bags that the dry cleaners use to cover clothing. Cut the bag open and drape the bag over the model. This plastic material is light enough not to damage the model and it will keep the dust off of it. As everybody has said, models of Young America are quite common and you should not expect to get big money for it. It's still a beautiful model and the fact that it's an heirloom makes it valuable to you and your family. Imagine if you cased it and were able to pass it down to your son. What a wonderful thing to be able to say, "My great-great-grandfather made this."
  11. Removable rails is good... but it looks like the poor suckers still had to step up and down to get past the hatch as they went around. I'm presuming they covered the hatch, but the hatch sill is still a step up. I'm always amazed at how much work it took to get things done on the old navy ships.
  12. Do you have the book, The Whaleboat, by Ansel? https://store.mysticseaport.org/the-whaleboat-a-study-of-design-construction-and-use-from-1850-to-2014.html That is the authoritative resource on whaleboats. My research on whaleboats on the Morgan revealed that the rudders were stowed lashed to the port side of the boats when not in use. The drawing above shows how the rudders were lashed, fastened between the lower pintle and the stock and to two cleats on the rail. (Note that the photo on the box cover picture above shows the tiller mounted in the hung rudder and sticking up like a sore thumb. The tiller would have been removed from the stock and stowed aboard. No seaman in his right mind would have stowed a rudder with the tiller inserted in the stock. This detail on the box cover betrays an all too common lack of basic seamanship skills and knowledge, a common failing of kit manufacturers and model builders.) Stowing the rudder outboard kept the rudder out of the whaleboat, which was extremely crowded with gear and crew as it was. The rudder would only be shipped when the mast was raised and sail set. Under oars, the steering oar was used. The each boats' gear was stowed in each boat in a particular place as also shown in the book mentioned when the ship was on the whaling grounds so that all was in readiness for the quickest launch when a whale was sighted except for the line buckets. The line buckets were stowed against the bulwarks on the waterways next to each boat when on the whaling grounds, ready to be stowed immediately before the boat was lowered. This was to relieve the boats and davits of the weight of the line buckets when the boats were simply hanging in the davits. At sea in transit to the whaling grounds, the boats' gear would be stowed aboard the vessel to keep it out of the weather. Spare gear, particularly long stuff like oars, harpoons, lances, and the like, was stowed hung beneath the boat skids. Note that the period in which the Morgan is modeled is important not only to the accurate portrayal of the ship, but also to the accurate portrayal of her whaleboats. As one will learn reading The Whaleboat, the design of the American whaleboat changed over time, in part to accommodate changes in the species of whale they hunted. It was not until around 1857 or so that the centerboard came into use. Before then, the whaleboats carried masts and sails, but no centerboard because the sails were only employed when running downwind over a distance when returning to the ship. The paddles were used when the whaleboat closed in on its quarry because the paddles were quieter than the oars and less likely to spook the whales. In the mid-1850's, when the sperm whales began to be hunted, they were more difficult to approach, so the whalers learned to sail up to a pod of whales in relative silence rather than row or paddle. The centerboard came into use to permit more efficient sailing to windward when the whales had to be approached from that direction under sail. If a Morgan model depicts her as launched with her ship rig in 1841, her whaleboats would not have had centerboards and the planking would have been as employed at that time. In later times, as the Ansels' book explains, the planking also changed. (Combinations of clinker and carvel planking changed, again for the purpose of building a quieter boat to better approach the quarry.) American whaleboats were stock designs and lasted but a short while in use. Often, they were shot after one voyage, so the design changes are very closely matched with the time period. The whaling ships generally carried newly built boats on each voyage. These picky details risk being overlooked in some of the Morgan kits. If you don't have The Whaleboat, get a copy. (About $25 in paperback.) I would rely on that before I'd rely on any plans in a kit.
  13. If all you want is a ship model, you'll probably find it difficult not to burn out on trying to build one. If you enjoy working with your hands and solving mechanical challenges, you're in the right place. It's all about the process and the crafts involved. I can't imagine there's a challenge you'll encounter that hasn't been met before and solved by somebody in here who explained how they did it. You'll learn all you need to know reading the past posts in this forum. It's probably the best collection of basic information on ship modeling anyone could ever hope to find. There are some real "Rembrandts" sharing their work in here. Few artists will ever be a Rembrandt, but we all can't help being better artists when we get to look over Rembrandt's shoulder.
  14. While we are musing... can anybody explain to me how the capstan ends up being right up next to the companionway hatch which appears to have permanently mounted railings on it? With the capstan bars mounted and manned, how to they turn it with the hatch in the way?
  15. Please do! I'll bet your kids would love that... if you can pull them away from their video games ! If you do undertake a restoration (she's an heirloom, after all,) feel free to ask questions here. Like the government, "we're here to help."
  16. Aha! Another "Rolls Royce" mechanic! The fact that you lined up the slots on all those screws was not overlooked by my eagle eyes! Lovely work. Beautiful.
  17. What Chris said. I'd add, though, that if you know a kid who likes to build models of any kind, they might have a lot of fun cleaning it up and repairing the rigging. At that point, it would be a pretty cool thing to have in a twelve year old's "man cave."
  18. Wefalk is correct. The sail grommets would definitely have been sewn. On larger sails, they probably would have worked the grommet around a metal ring with the stitches carried around it, which, when the grommet was complete, would hide the metal ring. There wouldn't have been "rings" on the stay. I believe at Bounty's time they would have used a hank in the shape of a "U" of bent iron with eyes in each end, shaped something like the "monocle" on the hood of a cobra. The stay would go into the crotch of the "U" and a selvagee (a loop formed of several passes of small stuff) would be worked through one eye of the "U" fitting, through the sail grommet, through the other eye of the "U" fitting, until a sufficient number of passes had been made and then the selvage would be married with half hitch coxcombing between the two eyes. The open "U" shape permits the "hanks" to be removed from and replaced on the stay without unrigging the stay and the selvagee lashing and the shape of the "U" hank minimizes chafing of the sail grommets. Prior to the use of the iron "hanks," clever steam-bent wooden "hanks" were used. These had notches in the ends so they could be opened to be attached or removed from the stay without the need to detach the stay. The "X" formed by the overlapping notch was seized with small stuff and lashed through the grommet, pulling the "X" of the "hank" against the bolt rope. This also prevented chafing of the sail. This information should eliminate your search for miniature thimbles, but in the future if the occasion arises and they aren't available in the size you want, one way to fabricate them is to take a suitably sized piece of copper or brass tubing, which is available in quite small sizes an anneal it well, cut off small sections of it and place one end of the section on a ball bearing or other round hard surface and place another ball bearing of the same size on the other end of the small section of tubing and gently hammer the top ball bearing. In this manner, provided the metal is annealed and doesn't work-harden (in which case it just needs to be annealed again,) the ends of the tubing will "roll" outward and form a thimble with the inside diameter of the tube. Lubricating the working surfaces when shaping thimbles in this way will make the task easier, as well.
  19. I just got it and haven't put it to use "in the field" as yet, but I noticed the same thing just fiddling with it. It's mainly for drawing wire or wood through a drawplate. It should hold small stuff as a vise, too, but I agree that you really can't clamp it down as tightly as a vise with a wedge or a bench vise with a turning bar on the screw.
  20. I can’t be sure from the photos whether your decks are made of wide pieces of grown wood (not plywood.) If they are, cracking as you’ve pictured is a common problem I’ve seen when restoring models. Most all wood species expand and contract most across the grain as the ambient humidity fluctuates. When a thin, wide piece of wood is fastened down and then moves, it’s highly prone to checking. It simply doesn’t have the strength to resist cracking when it is thin. A one Inch thick piece wouldn’t crack, but a eighth inch thick one will. Sometimes it is possible to fill the crack, but this often looks unacceptable and if the filler is hard, it will likely crack even more when the wood swells again. The only real solution is to plank the deck with scale planks which will allow for movement between the planks without cracking. Usually, smaller pieces tend to move less than larger pieces. I also find it a good practice to seal all wood with a thin coat of shellac. Shellac is one of the most effective moisture barrier coatings around. It won’t prevent the effects of humidity changes completely, but it slows them down considerably which reduces the amount of movement.
  21. And why not a build log for a walnut shell boat? I think it would be quite interesting. That's a great way to get little kids interested in ship modeling. When I was about six, my dad made me my first "ship model," a simple rubber-band powered paddlewheel boat out of some wood from an apple box. I painted it myself. (My first "kit build," as it were.) I had tons of fun with it. There's a long tradition of carving shells, nuts, and stone fruit pits. Carving peach pit boats has been considered a fine art in China for centuries. Here's some "museum quality" Chinese peach pit boats: I'm sure that when the cavemen were painting the walls of their caves, the guy who painted the bison thought his bison was better than the guy who traced an outline of his spread hand on the wall because the bison was painted "from scratch" and the hand was just traced. The guy who did the hand said, "Yeah, but my hand looks more like a hand than your bison looks like a bison." And we've been arguing about it ever since. Any art form intended to be shared with others is, essentially, self-expression and self-expression doesn't exist in a vacuum. It expresses the declarant's point of view and invites the judgment of others, frequently in the hope of receiving their appreciation. It's a characteristic of our humanity, hardwired in our DNA. I suspect the "passion" and "romance" gets injected into the equation because the response to artistic expression invites judgmental comparisons. When we make qualitative judgments about ship models, we employ various criteria. Is the model pleasing to the eye of the beholder? Does it exhibit skill? Does it exhibit creativity? What does it say about the person who built it? What does it say to the person who experiences it? All of these qualities are not only subject to evaluation individually, but also combine to create the gestalt that determines the overall value of a given model. The contrast between "kits" and "scratch building," perhaps first and foremost, is that a kit necessarily limits the artist's ability to demonstrate (if not express) both their skill and their creativity through the uniqueness of their work. Again, the "paint by number" oil paintings which were a fad now long ago provide a good example. It takes the practiced eye of another artist to appreciate the skill and creativity which may be exhibited in the product of a kit. The unpracticed eye frequently doesn't know the difference. (And kit manufacturers often capitalize on this by offering gilt-encrusted ships-of-the-line model kits, "ship porn" for the uninitiated.) Similarly, the practiced eye instantly recognizes the artist's skill and creativity in the uniqueness of a "scratch built" ship model. Because the spectrum is broad, when the distinction is sharply drawn, passions rise. We have to recognize the nuances. A masterfully build kit model can indeed exhibit the builder's skill and even to some extent creativity if the builder ventures beyond the confines of his kit and into the unconfined world of "scratch building." A kit model can certainly engender the builder's satisfaction and please the eye of its beholders. That is more than enough to justify its existence and merit our appreciation. Where the kit model is disadvantaged, however, is in the apparentness of those qualities, much of which is dependent upon a model's uniqueness. As some have remarked here, the gestalt of a "scratch built" model can intimidate even the knowledgeable: "I could never do that!" (The uninitiated, of course, probably won't even know it was built from scratch.) That reaction is far less likely with a kit, which, in its most basic form, limits its builder's opportunity for self-expression to that of craftsmanship alone. Essentially, kit models are assembled. "Scratch built" models are "created." (And even this distinction is nuanced. Many wood kits demand considerable craftsmanship to carve and shape the block of wood and bundle of sticks and string some manufacturers call a "kit," while others, plastic kit manufacturers particularly, may advertise that all it takes to build their kit is snapping together numbered parts.) This doesn't mean "scratch built" models are qualitatively better than kit built models. (Indeed, the distinction between the two is a bone of contention as well... "Is it really scratch built if he bought all his cannon, carriages, blocks, boats, and anchors from an aftermarket parts supplier?") It's just that when we judge a model's quality, we have to be clear about what qualities we are judging. This is why most modeling competitions award prizes in categories that distinguish between kits and scratch built entries... and why the "People's Choice" award exists to acknowledge that the uninitiated are rarely qualified to judge the quality of a ship model or to even recognize a kit model from a "scratch built" one.
  22. I've tried to avoid this thread. It's "an occasion of sin," as my Catholic grammar school nuns used to say. Unfortunately, I continue to be tempted by all the goodies that keep being posted. (Thanks to all of you for sharing! This thread should get it's own category... a running "tools review" thread.) Here's my contribution. It's a "Lowell pattern" jeweler's vise. I'd wanted one for quite some time, but never got around to it. I decided to take a chance on this one because at less than twenty bucks with free shipping on eBay, how bad could it hurt if it turned out to be junk? I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived. It's a well-made hefty tool. I like the weight of it compared to my wooden one similar to the one pictured above, although the wooden one is easier on small parts perhaps. It's main attraction is that the jaws tighten by rotating the handle and it has a hole running through the handle so that wire and rod of any length can be accommodated. Its primary use by jewelers is to pull wire through draw plates. Details can be found on eBay at: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lowell-Pattern-Hand-Vise-Wire-Working-Tool-Hand-Held-Vise-Hollow-Handle-Drawtong/202242174597?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2648
  23. I started with a box that came with an incomplete collection of ship's curves, too, but I got hooked on checking eBay every few days and managed to complete the set by adding two or three every so often when they'd come up for auction. I think it actually was cheaper that way, since there was a big premium on complete sets, while few bid high for the "orphaned" curves that came along now and again. Eventually, I was into it more for the collecting than because I felt I needed them all. (Breaking one of my "tool rules:" "Never buy a tool until you need it." )
  24. Not to worry. If you can build a kit, you can scratch-build on your own. You don't have to worry about drafting your own plans and lofting your own pieces. Just find a simple subject vessel you like for which plans are available, use them, and GO FOR IT ! "Experience starts when you begin." as the saying goes. The fact is, every time there's something missing in a kit (and we all know how often that can be) or you break a part and have to fashion a new one on our own, or we decide to add a little detail of our own, we're "scratch-building." Most kits don't have much in them but a set of plans, a box full of sticks and string, and some cast parts and crummy blocks and deadeyes, which isn't much when you consider what they cost. So get your plans from a book, your wood at the hobby shop, and better parts that you'll ever find in a kit from the aftermarket suppliers and you'll be bucks ahead. That's scratch building. When you come right down to it, it's not much different than building a kit, just less expensive. The trick in this game is to "Do the common thing uncommonly well." Start with a "common thing" simple subject to model and do the best you can possibly do with it. That's all you have to do. The rest will take care of itself. Accomplishment, however small, begets confidence. There's some incredibly good modelers on this forum building some incredibly complex models incredibly well. When I get the same feeling following their build logs that you get about scratch-building, I remind myself that I'm not, say, a retired master tool and die maker or micro-surgeon, that I never will be, and that I'm in it only to please myself. Learn from them, aspire to be as good at it as they are and you will be, but don't expect that to happen overnight. The more you do, the more you'll learn. Consider yourself lucky that you are at the point you are now. You will always find somebody on the MSW forum with an answer to your questions and the forum is a gold mine of tips and tricks. A lot of us who have been at it for decades really had nothing but a book or two to learn from when we started out. You've got the whole darn internet, the mother of all shopping malls, the Library of Congress, and every dirty book store in the world, all instantly available on your screen 24/7 and for free ! Kits are shop modeling's "gateway drug." They lead to harder stuff like "adding details" and "kit bashing." The next thing you know, you're mainlining "scratch-building." There are lots worse things you could be doing with your time.

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