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Hello, everyone!  I've been taking some time to read up on all the planking tutorials offered here, and I'm trying to conceptually apply the techniques that I'm learning to my first build, which will begin in a week or two.  I believe I understand the planking process in theory, but I've noticed that, with the exception of the "Hull Planking Techniques for Beginners" guide (http://modelshipworldforum.com/resources/Framing_and_Planking/plankingprojectbeginners.pdf), most of the guides seem to describe a technique in which each individual plank is spiled to fit the lined-off sections on the bulkheads.  While this method seems easy to understand and certainly appears to provide a beautiful fit and a great-looking hull in the end, it requires you to use your own wood, as the spiled planks you cut out require stock that is wider than the planks that are included with the kit.  This method seems ideal to me, as it puts less stress on the planks, and seems to make for an easier planking process, as long as you take your time cutting out each plank as perfectly as possible.  However, I'd like to strengthen my understanding of the process used if one were to plank using the strips of wood included with the kit itself (for the sake of clarity, I've written my questions in bold).  Based on the guide, it would appear that, in this case, you are to use the measurements of your lined-off bulkheads to plot a curve along the top side of each plank (i.e., the upper edge of the plank when the model is upright, with the keel on the bottom, as if the ship were sitting in the water).  The top edge of the plank is then tapered along this curve (without ever tapering the bottom edge of the plank), minor adjustments are made, and the plank is moistened and heated, then bent over the bulkheads and clamped, where it is allowed to dry in order to take the shape of the hull.  Once dry, the plank can be adhered to the bulkheads.  Is this correct?  From what I have read, the only plank to which this method does not apply is the garboard strake, which is tapered along its bottom edge to match the curve formed by the bottom edges of the bulkhead where they meet the keel.  The top edge of the garboard strake (when the hull is positioned upright) is not tapered.  Do I have that right?  Finally, I'm curious about the wale.  Is this where most people start planking, working down to the keel?  Is this plank tapered at all?  If so, which edge is tapered -- top or bottom?  While I had originally assumed that I would simply plank my hull using the strips that come with the kit, I've become quite interested in the spiling technique, as the hulls I've seen that result from the use of this technique look amazing.  My kit has not arrived yet, so I do not yet know the thickness of the planks that are included with it.  If I were to acquire some 1/16"-thick sheets of basswood, would this thickness be comparable to the thickness of most first-layer planks that come with these kits, or is 1/16" too thick?  I appreciate the help, guys!       

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Hi Dave, 

I am by no means as experienced as others here. What I like to do is keep as many planks their full width all across, for as long as possible. Especially at the top part of the ship near the decks/gunports. This makes it easy to keep consistent heights and reference points. The lower you get the more tapering is needed to follow the curves of the hull nicely. 

I am not a 100% sure if there is even "an official" way. Most builders seem to apply their own take on it, with little differences on the same concept.

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The wales, if im correct are not tapered. They are the same width across. On some builds its easier to place a wale first, then plank downward and above it. Others plank the whole hull normally, then add wales on top afterwards. 

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Dave,

 

I'll take a shot at what I can... I'm by no means an expert.  I'm building my first ship using spiling... the rest were.. shall we say, not following any known method.  ;)

 

The thickness is a big variable.  It depends heavily on what thickness the ship needs and more so on the scale.  A 1/16" thick plank would be way too thick for a 1:96 model and way too thin for a 1:24 in most cases.

 

The garboard is usually straight on the edge along the keel and tapered on the upper side.  Your mileage may vary depending on the ship/boat design.

 

Most folks do start at the wales first as this a key dimension.   Some go up next, others go down depending on their preference.

 

Bending the wood is a matter of water and heat... some use steam, others just soak, others a combination of soaking and heating (using everything from a soldering iron to a curling iron to electric plank benders.  

 

Tapering is also a judgement call.. taper both sides, top, or bottom.

 

As for spiling..  wide planks get cut down to fit (tapered).  If the plank is narrow enough, sometimes it can be tapered and edge bent.  

 

I know... nothing definitve.. right?   I'd use the Beginner's Guide first to get a feel for the wood and process and then on your next ship, use one of the other tutorials for spiling, etc.   

Edited by mtaylor

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The garboard is usually straight on the edge along the keel and tapered on the upper side.  Your mileage may vary depending on the ship/boat design.

 

I'm a little confused, because the "Planking Techniques for Beginners Guide" says the exact opposite...  Here's a picture from the guide (with the ship in the upside down position, with the keel facing up):

 

2n058bo.jpg

 

Based on that diagram, the tapered edge on the garboard strake pictured below (also taken from the guide) should be the keel-side edge, right?

 

8y9vet.jpg

 

It certainly does seem like each builder has his/her own opinion when it comes to which side of the plank to taper.  Based on what I read in the guide, I was under the assumption that it was a hard and fast rule to only taper the top edge of every plank but the garboard strake.  Apparently the choice is up to the builder.  I'm assuming that it's just a matter of consistency (tapering the same edge on each plank, once you've decided).  Just out of curiosity, which edge do most of the people here choose?  

 

I appreciate the useful information that has been shared thus far.  I'm still interested in hearing other members' answers to my previous questions, though!  I'm definitely learning a lot.    

Edited by daveward

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The more I look at the spiling guides, the more appealing that method is to me.  I love the way the planks seem to lay down so perfectly on the bulkheads when the curve is actually cut into the planks.  I'm worried that if I try to use the standard planks and just taper the edges, I'll end up with a slightly "clinker" look, which is really unattractive to me...  Here is a comparison of a straight plank bent around the bulkheads and a spiled plank (taken straight from the "Lining Off Your Hull for Planking" guide):

 

el1v0j.jpg

 

The spiled plank (or cardstock, in this case) looks a lot better than the straight plank.  I know that doing a good job of tapering and not attempting to "edge set," or laterally bend, the planks will help to reduce the clinker look, but spiling still seems like the most effective way to minimize this occurrence.  Anyway, I tend to obsess over certain aspects of a process in order to figure out the "best" way to do something, so please tell me if I'm worrying over nothing.  Thanks!    

 

 

 

 

 

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Valuable information, NMBROOK.  I appreciate your input!  I think I'm looking for a balance between ease of planking and a smooth, fairly accurate appearance.  My plan is to check the thickness of the planks provided with the kit (when it arrives), and then acquire some sheets with the same thickness from which I can cut my spiled planks.  There will be a lot more preparation involved, but I think the results will be nicer.  A big part of me wants to go with scale plank lengths, as well, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew...  Let me see if I've got this right:

 

I'll pick a starting point (the wale, for instance), which will most likely be at full width across the hull.  I'll divide the hull into working bands, lining the plank spaces off on each bulkhead, according to the planking fan.  Working down from the wale, my first couple of planks in that band will likely only require some slight tapering to fit properly.  Once I have those in place, I'll begin spiling the rest of the planks based on the curvature of the planks that are already in place.  Does that sound correct?   

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Hi Dave,

Sounds like a good approach. On my first wooden ship (the Pinta) it felt completely alien to me as well. No matter how much photo's and explanation pdf's I read - it still felt really unclear. Now after having done it a couple of times, you sort of get a grip and understand how it works. No ship is the same either, so for some its important to get the wales in place first, on others you might work differently.

 

Even if you use full strips of wood, you can still simulate planking afterwords by cutting/pressing indents at the plank heads. For wales I used flexible linde wood, a whole strip. Then afterwards I cut in the joints/connections. 

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Yes, I was wondering how many people cut a whole hull-length plank and simply cut it into separate planks afterwards to achieve the "scale" look.  I would think that this would be an easy way to get shorter planks that fit together well.  

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Oh, the kit is double-planked.  I suppose I can just do the first layer as single hull-length planks and cut the second layer to scale lengths.  However, it might be a good idea to try cutting some of the first layer planks to scale just so I can get some practice before it "counts."  I'm planning on getting a build log going when I start working on the kit.  I just hope I can remember to take pictures along the way, as I'm sure I'll be concentrating pretty hard on my work!   :)

 

I'm going to do the first layer in basswood, and then use walnut for the second layer.  Hopefully I can find the right thicknesses of sheetwood for my kit!

Edited by daveward

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Dave

I have been following Ian's build. His planking job is outstanding, for a first time build, plus the type of ship.

Here is his link.

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/11130-hms-victory-by-seventynet-caldercraft-scale-1-72/

If you look what he has done with the 1st planking, he use some drop planks and steelers, but for 1st layer is like wow.

He does use spilling for his 2nd planking on one side, but the wood came out looking like 2 different shades.

For the other side he came up with a way of cutting the planks to scale lenght then edge bending. I will try this method on my next ship.

I find that I am learning as I go. If your ship has 2 layers of planks the first is were you get the feel of easy part and problem spots.

Joe

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You'll definitely need wider planks from the kit planks if you go with spiled planking.  For some of the planks on my Pegasus, I found I needed to work with planks at least 50% thicker than the standard plank width. 

 

For example, take a look at the plank at this post on my log  :o

 

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/7267-hms-pegasus-by-landlubber-mike-amativictory-models-scale-164/?p=365802

Edited by Landlubber Mike

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Nice job, Mike!  I think I'm going to get sheets of basswood and walnut, and just cut the planks out of the sheets so that I can make the most of the material and not have to worry about purchasing the right widths.  Unfortunately, since I don't have a scroll saw, I'm going to have to cut the planks by hand!   :(  At least I'll get a real sense of accomplishment out of it, right?  Haha!  I'm going to give it a shot before I decide whether I should break down and buy a saw, since I don't have a lot of storage space for the saw... 

Edited by daveward

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I agree, reklein!  Spiled planks tend to look amazing, and that's what I want!  I also think it will feel great to look at the hull of the ship when it's done and know that I hand-crafted each plank.  That would certainly be something of which to be proud!  It's going to take a lot longer, but I'm happy to take my time and get superior results rather than finishing quickly and getting something that doesn't completely please me.  

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Dave, I am just now starting to plank the lower portion of the hull on my Couronne build. This is a double plank hull and the first layer I used for practicing as I am still learning myself. I ran into the problems mentioned above of the bulkheads being to far apart which did create problems where the planks met and with flat spots in the shape. Fortunately as this will all get covered up I was able to use wood filler to smooth the shape out in preparation for the 2nd planking. For this I have swapped out the kit supplied wood for better quality as much of what came in my kit was not cut as straight as I wanted. Doing this I was able to buy strips of varying sizes plus some sheet material to allow me to attempt spiling for the first time. This will be a great learning experience. Whether I learn how to successfully do this or how not to do it remains to be seen. ;)

 

I like to try to cut each individual plank too. This may make things harder and I constantly consider using full runs and simply scoring the joints later but I'm like you in that I take a lot of pride when I tell people that I cut each plank one at a time.

 

What I am doing now is laying out the spacing on the hull. Measuring, drawing lines and making notes and often erasing and starting over. Going slow and taking your time is vitally important here. Best advise I can give is to take your time with the initial framing. Make sure your bulkheads get positioned correctly and fair them up so all your planks lay flush and true with them. This is another step that I know I have been guilty of rushing and can make huge differences in the quality of the planking later. 

 

Good luck to you! I look forward to seeing your build as it progresses.

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First off, before you start making saw dust, have you received the kit yet? I have found in every kit that I have built which is getting close to 30 give or take, I have never had an issue with kit supplied wood. My recommendation to you would be to plank the model the way the directions and plans suggest you to do especially on your first model. I have seen far to many models by well intentioned people started but never finished. Planking is or can be one of the hardest parts of ship modeling until you get some of the fundamentals down that and into practice like stealer planks and fillers. You will have time to get fancy with spiling and others things once you get that first hull planking under your belt. NEVER start your planking at the bottom or false keel. Start your planking at the wales and work your way down to the keel. This way if there is an issue, it will be less noticeable on the bottom of the ship as opposed to mid-ship. Once you lay about 3-5 planks that are not tapered at the wales, then you will need to start your taper at the front and back of the hull. I try and never lay full planks because no matter the size, it's just not realistic and also it's a lot easier to get those bends and twists on those smaller pieces of planking. I may lay 3-4 planks from the stem going backward in a stair step pattern and then go back and fill in the planking towards the stern.

 

Last thing I can suggest is when you lay a plank on one side, lay a plank on the other side as well, this keeps the keel from dis-forming on you at least until you are better than half way through the planking process and the hull and bulkheads become more stable.

 

 

 

mike  

Edited by mtdoramike

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The lady Nelson kit is very poorly designed.   The bulkheads are so far apart that it will be impossible to properly spile using the tape method.  Unless of course you fill the gaps between the bulkheads with filler blocks and fair them to shape first.  For such a small model there should have been no reason at all why they couldnt place more bulkheads on that model.  You couldnt even use a compass.   So you dont get discouraged and give up on trying the proper method for planking.......

 

You could just plank the first layer any way you can hoping it will turn out smooth and not faceted.....but my recommendation is to fill up those gaps between bulkheads even if you just use some soft balsawood.  Then fair the hull smooth so you have a solid foundation to line off your hull and spile.

 

If you look at even how the dreaded gunport template sits against the frames as designed...you are starting the process with a bad foundation to build upon.  I wouldnt even try it.

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Good advice, guys. Chuck, I agree that my current situation makes spiling difficult. The bulwarks are set slightly out from the bulkheads, so you get an instant clinker effect on the first plank. It's also nearly impossible to get the tape to lay down properly in order to trace the edge of the plank in its current state. I still want to try spiling these planks, so I'm going to use balsa to fill in the spaces between the bulkheads and fair the hull that way, as Chuck suggested. I have some basswood, but I find it a bit too difficult to properly shape with just my sanding stick/files, so balsa should work better for me. I have spiled a few test planks and they still fit rather well, so I'm confident that I can get a great result if I use the balsa fillers.

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I would like to add here that when you sand the hull after planking, make sure and DO NOT SAND MORE THAN HALF OF THE PLANKS THICKNESS, I can't stress this enough, my brother decided he would use a dremel tool with a sanding drum on it to sand down a basswood hull. You guessed, it made the planking way to thin like an eggshell. He gave up on it, but not me, I pulled most of the planking off, ordered new planking and Finished that ship model and gave it back to him. Any time I go to sand a hull of a model, I get several pieces of scrap wood and glue them together, then I start sanding with 60 grit, then 150 grit and finally 220 grit and see how long it takes me to sand down to half of the thickness of the planking and if it's an hour then I make sure and keep an eye on how much sanding I do on a hull. You will find that even the same species of wood have different hardness.

 

Also, helpful tip, Once you are getting close to the finished product of the hull planking and find that there is a few minor cracks or dents or dips in the hull planking, get some 5 minute epoxy and collect some of that saw dust, mix it together and pack it into any little dings that you can't sand out. Once dry, sand smooth. If you are painting the hull or coppering it, you can get away with a multitude of sin, but if going natural wood finish, wood putty or wood filler would stick out like a sore thumb.

 

I've gotten one side of the Montanes sanded with 60 grit, notice all the sawdust :P

 

 

mike    

post-13395-0-50697200-1460670276_thumb.jpg

Edited by mtdoramike

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Mike,

Isn't the epoxy harder than the wood?   I've not heard using that before.   I have heard of using the finish (poly, for example) or diluted white glue and sawdust for gap and ding filling.

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I've used epoxy mixed with sawdust when I'm turning larger items such as bowls on my lathe but in that case I have nice sharp tools plus the power of the lathe to knock down the high spots and smooth till it's time to sand. I have never used it on a model but if you can apply it as smooth as possible and don;t let it mound up too high, sanding should not be too difficult. Might be worth giving a try to see if it works better than white glue or I've even had some luck with ca glue by packing the area with dust first then sealing over and by inserting very thin slivers into cracks and sealing those with a thin coat of ca glue. Best if you use the super thin for that or you end up with a big mound to sand. 

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I have tried numerous fillers to try and match the wood color and epoxy is about the closest that I have found that dries clear without it being noticed. I have tried wood glue with sawdust, which works, but I have found that the water based glue tends to stain or mis-color the wood once an oil based poly is used on the wood. I actually use a bit more hardener in the epoxy than normally required, but the trick is to smooth it out and much as possible before it starts to set and get sticky. Then I let it dry over night and get nice and hard then I take a piece of 150 grit sand paper and smooth it out. I would be curious to know of others that use something else that works as well or better because I'm willing to try it.

 

 

mike 

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Very interesting tips/tricks, guys!  I have experimented with mixing sawdust and Titebond III, and the results were pretty good.  I used it to fill a small gouge that I made in a spare piece of wood, just to see what it would look like.  I hope that I won't have many spots to fill when I get done planking, but if I do, I'll try some of your methods!

 

I went out and picked up some 3/32" sheets of balsa yesterday, and I made some filler blocks for the bow of the ship.  My build log for the Lady Nelson contains a detailed description of this process, but since some of you may not follow my log (or care to know every detail of my block-making process), I'll post a shorter description with a few photos here.  

 
I basically cut a bunch of balsa "wafers" that fit into the spaces between my bulkheads, making sure that the "wafers" were longer than the bulkheads themselves.  I stacked these on top of each other and glued them together to form my blocks:
 
1z3roye.jpg
 
2gwg6yd.jpg
 
2mnom4w.jpg
 
When the pieces had been bonded, I took my sanding stick and started shaping the block by hand, carefully following the curvature from one bulkhead to the other.  Here is a photo of the block, roughly sanded:
 
rb0ewx.jpg
 
I continued this process for the next bulkhead spaces.  After a lot of sanding, checking, and repeating these were the results:
 
2zin3oy.jpg
 
1zq7g29.jpg
 
255hloi.jpg
 
Everything looked and felt smooth, so I was pleased with how it turned out.  
 
I decided to make another attempt at spiling a plank in order to see if I could get better results with my new filler blocks.  I was quite pleased with how everything turned out!  I used two different spiling methods, to see which I preferred...  The first method involved tracing the bottom edge of the bulwark with my painter's tape, and the second was using a compass to trace the curvature onto an index card laid across the bulkheads (I'll be showing this method, although both worked for me).  One thing I learned was to always transfer the traced curvature to an index card and cut it out for test fitting so that I wouldn't waste any of my precious sheetwood.  In this photo, you can see the index card with the traced curve cut out:
 
33krnvc.jpg
 
This photo shows the curve transferred to my sheetwood, with the curvature of the other edge also marked, according to the plank spacing at each bulkhead:
 
241t9hf.jpg
 
This was just a rough practice run, so I simply cut the plank out along these lines without allowing any extra clearance.  I wanted to give my spiling technique the ultimate test, to see how closely the plank would fit based solely on my tracing, without any additional tweaking.
 
oqg55f.jpg
 
I didn't even bother sanding/filing the edges, and soaked the spiled plank immediately in hot water for a few minutes (I found that the lime softens very quickly after only a short time in hot water).  I am awating the arrival of a plank bender, but since I don't have it yet, I simply bent the plank around the bulkheads and held it in place for a few minutes.  It came out looking like this:
 
2ujgg2e.jpg
 
In this photo, you can see how well the spiled and bent plank hugs the curvature of the hull:
 
ofz0p.jpg
 
You can also see how the bottom edge of the plank no longer creates the clinker effect, sitting flat against filler blocks:
 
33p3mdd.jpg
 
Finally, here's a photo of me holding the plank in position (pretty nice fit for a rough-cut practice plank, right?):
 
2q8wu4p.jpg
 
I have only created one bow block thus far, but I'm quite pleased with how things are looking at this point.  I know that the stern blocks will be tougher to shape, but I'll give it my best effort.  Thanks for your help, everyone!

 

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