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Am new to this forum but have been making model boat kits for around a year now.


To practice planking techniques I started with the kits which had to be smoothed and painted as the full size ships / boats were steel hulled.


I'm now moving on to older ships which have timber hulls and have been trying to do some research on the web


I'm part way through a build for the HMS Halifax - originally built in Nova Scotia in 1768 and have been studying other builds - both kit and scratch.


The kit comes supplied with mahogany, but I see from many images that above the water line, most modellers have chosen different wood for the planking.


I understand that most ships of the time would have been painted in one form or another, but I think the models look good using natural wood finish as it shows the planking workmanship off - for better or worse!


What I'm unable to find during my research for this and a couple of future builds is what the full size ship was actually planked in.


I've found reference to type of timber harvested in the 1800's from Nova Scotia as this would be the logical timber used for ship building in this area but there is a large variety of tree's being harvested and suspect many would be unsuitable for ship building. What I'm also unable to determine is if they would have imported hardwoods even though they had a ready supply of other timbers grown locally.


Also complicating things is once the ship was transferred to the British - was it refurbished with native woods, or possibly even imported hardwoods such as from India etc.


For a ship that is apparently very well documented I'm really struggling to find the answer - I suppose at the end of the day, most would think it unimportant and to finish as I see pleasing but would like to try and at least be true to the original ship.


I'm also ignoring using nails supplied with the kit and intend to use 'tree nails' (apologies if this is not correct term as all these shipping terminology is sometimes confusing to a newbee landlubber!) - so I'll be reducing some dowel wood or other to suitable dimension to represent the original fixings and same issue applies - were these made from the same timber as the planks or were they different (other kits I've used this technique on were basewood planking so the use of toothpicks passed through a tremel achieved a result that was pleasing as the 2 woods were close in colour but different enough that you could see the actual dowel heads) - if the same wood not sure if the fixings would stand out sufficiently to make the extra effort worthwhile but using a different wood completely would look a bit wrong.


Any advise or help would be greatly welcome.


Next builds in no particular order will be the Thermopylae, Cutty Sark and Norske Love so same issue again, though I plan on copper sheathing the Cutty Sark at least.



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I agree, the timber used was probably local to the yard where she was built.  Oak is likely, but pine was not unknown for some smaller vessels.  Regardless, I think most model builders agree that neither of these will do for models as the grain is too noticeable.   Mahogany is worse although it does have a beautiful color.  Costello, fruitwoods such as pear, holly, bass and poplar are probably the most mentioned woods.    Check out the forum on woods and you will get a good education based on experience of many members.  We all have our own personal preferences and there is no single "right" answer.  Traditionally, British contemporary models were mostly built with English or European boxwood, but it is extremely difficult to find and very expensive. 


For the tree nails, there are choices here as well, but working a dowel down to a 1 inch to 2 inch diameter (scale)  in even 1/4" scale is a huge waste of wood and probably difficult if at all possible to do.  Bamboo split into slim strips  and a good quality draw plate such as from Jim Byrnes to round them to the right diameter will serve you well.  There are many discussions on this site about treenails (trennals) that will guide you as well.


Please do start a build log and as you show your work and questions arise you will surely get help from many members.



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