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what is a good finish for stained planking (edited by admin)

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" Should a matt finish be appropriate for this kind of a model that accentuates the texture of woods while keeping the finish from dominating the overall appearance of the model ?"


I'm new to this craft so I don't have much experience, but this is similar to a question that I've been chewing over. It seems to me that even the glossiest (full size) boat appears less glossy at a distance, it still looks great but the size & amount of reflections reduces the further away you get. So, my thinking is that a lower level of gloss will look in scale, even if you're replicating a boat that is high gloss. My eye tells me that when a model is done full gloss it looks a bit more like a model than a scaled down version of the real thing (trying not to tie myself in verbal knots....). That isn't to say that either is better, it's just the effect is different.


My 2c.....



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I agree, the finish is completely dependent on what the builder is going for.  Realism would require one to do some research on the real thing and attempt to duplicate that. 


If your goal is to bring out the beauty of the wood, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Some love high gloss but it requires a lot of work, such as French polishing.  Porous woods like mahogany require fillers.  Lacquer is probably one of the best finishes if you want a high gloss effect.  Waterborne finishes are best if you don't want any coloration.  Varnish is great for giving wood an aged look.


Jeff Jewett  is probably one of the best known finish experts in woodworking.  He has a forum at his website that I have used in the past. Though his website is geared for woodworking, I'm sure modelers would find some helpful information there.


But in the end, I think the modeler has to know what the goal for the finish will be.  Once that is determined, the vast array of finishing options narrows dramatically. 

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Gift Shop Models, like the one of the schooner pictured above, are ALWAYS coated with heavy gloss varnish. But this should NOT be taken as a good example of any sort of standard of craftsmanship.These models are churned out in third world countries to supply the demand for affordable "hand made" models in gift shops all over the world. The models are built and finished in a way that maximizes their visibility and appeal in a crowded gift shop. Actual ships certainly have their brightwork varnished but I can't think of any actual historic ship that glistens with such a heavy coat of varnish on every surface, including the hull.

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The original question was "What is a good finish for stained planking" and the answer would depend on what planks are in question. If the planks are the deck, no varnish- actual ships did not varnish the decks.

But if the question was in regards to planking elsewhere on the ship, the person asking the question should be specific about which planking and on what era the ship dates from. As above, the answer is usually going to be "mat or semi-gloss" but there ARE parts of ships that DO get heavy gloss varnish. These parts of the ship are known as The Brightwork and they typically are the rails skylights wheelboxes and all the rest of the unpainted deck furniture. A good rule of thumb is that if its above the waterline and is not painted and is not the deck and maybe not the anchor stock then it will require regular varnishing and will be as shiny as the sailors can make it.

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