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what wood to use for specifics....


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Hello All!

 

So being new to the whole scratch built wood ship modeling (The Orca I'm working on, being my first), I'm planning on starting my next......

 

I'm planning on doing the Mayflower 1620 version next. And I'm contemplating doing the whole inner beam structure and one half of it as a cutaway.

 

So my question is, what wood to use for what parts. I assume there are woods that would work better for the inner structure beams, planking and such.

 

Any recommendations for books on the subject also?

 

Thanks in advance! 

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Box, pear and apple are the premier woods for all parts but expensive and sometimes hard to find.  Low end is basswood for everything.  Works well but has its own problems.  I like cherry as a good all around wood that is both available and affordable.  Maple is also an excellent choice.  Walnut can be a bit difficult to work with as it has a somewhat open grain but looks really good.

 

I would go with maple for framing and decks, cherry for planking.

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Ahoy Mate

 

This is what I have been working on a Mary Rose 1545 showing all the structure down to the main gun deck admiralty style. All scratch built using basswood for the deck planking-what is there that is,and boxwood and swiss pear for the planking and deck beams.

 

I use the basswood because I can then add the wood grain to it by engraving the grain with the point of a xacto blade easily. The boxwood is best for the long beams because it's stronger than the swiss pear. I used the swiss pear for the cross beams for  a color difference so that you can see that there are different parts in the structure and where they join.

 

On the hull it's boxwood except for the band that the main gun ports are in,that's swiss pear.

 

The boxwood and swiss pear are hard so that they hold their edges and do not get dented. And you can file slots without having to deal with burrs like on softer basswood.

 

Keith

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Hi Neal

 

I agree that Box and Pear are the traditional hardwoods used.  However, there are some other alternatives that are very similar but more readily available and much less expensive.  Castello and Pau Marfin (also know as Guatambu) are good substitutes for Box, and Madrone is very similar to Pear.  I've also used African Pear, which is somewhat darker than European Pear but has a nice tight grain.  Most of these woods can be found in stores such as Woodworkers Source or from lumber suppliers online.

 

I can send you a PM with my wood sources if you'd like.  Hope this helps.

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Because this is your first adventure with POF,  I second Grsjax.  Hard Maple is fairly close to Boxwood in hardness and will serve quite well for framing timbers, beams, breast hooks,  keelson, clamps, .....  It is at the lower end as far as cost - redoing mistakes will not break the bank and should be  available from a local hardwood supplier --  Black Cherry will also work for most everything - where you want contrast - I just would not use it for deck planking as it is sorta at the wrong end as far as color.  Also available from local hardwood -  just checked - I take it that everything is close in RI-  Dwyer Hardwoods, L.Sweet Lumber, and a jackpot- RI Sawmill -  kiln dried  Hard Maple ( I dislike Soft Maple ) Cherry, Poplar,  Pear ( if you can believe it ),  Mulberry ( I don't know what it is like, but I have some firewood pieces drying to try it out,  and what to me is the king- Apple - can be a beautiful wood, works like a charm, bends, is strong..

 

As far as Mayflower-  it is from the end of the 16th or early 17th C.   I believe that the framing would have been similar to Admiralty/Dockyard - the actual Admiralty style - not what some here call Admiralty.  The space is within the frame - not beside it - there is a solid band of solid timber running fore and aft where the floor overlaps the 1st futtock and 1st futtock  overlaps the 2nd, etc.   The models were very stylized versions of actual practice.  It evolved from having the outside planking first and adding the timbers to hold and strengthen. By this stage, the floors would go first, then planked to the head (end). The 1st futtock then mounted between the floors and planked to its head.  etc.   In this case, the scarf would be the side-side mating - not end to end.  In actual practice the scarfs may have had chocks in between rather than actually touching - the wood did not need to be precisely sided  and it allowed for air circulation to reduce rot.  The point being- the actual ships were probably much less attractively framed than what the models show.

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Holly for the decks is my choice in most cases, but poplar serves well if clean pieces without the green often found in it.  Aspen is about like polar but I find it cleaner in color.  Lowe's used to carry Aspen rather than poplar.  If you use holly, be sure it is white, not greenish  which happens when not cut when the sap is down and kiln dried immediately after being cut into billets, or so I was taught.   Some of the wood experts can expand or correct if I have it wrong.

Allan

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Definitely some options out there for me! Thanks everyone for the wealth of information!

 

Jaager; Called RI Sawmill, he has the hard maple and the apple in stock, going down within the next week or two to gather some up.  He quoted me $6 lin ft over the phone for both.

 

Guess it's time to invest in a surface planer! ;)

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Apple-wood has a small grain and makes a clean cut. Apple is great for carving too. The heart-wood is darker and good for framing, while the lighter sapwood bends easily and is perfect for planking. It is plentiful and cheap in Rhode Island, and it makes a sweet smell when cut. Google August Crabtree's classic ship models made fifty years ago: They were made solely of apple-wood.

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My only concern (and I'm not sure if it even should be) is he would be cutting the Apple while I wait, so it won't be Kiln dried. And he said he would rather not Kiln dry it since he says it's a lengthy process for that particular wood. 

 

Told me for smaller pieces I could dry in a microwave.

 

So, should it be a concern its not dried?

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If you are buying power tools and are buying unseasoned lumber you might find a small jointer more useful. A surface planer does not easily handle twisted lumber. It works best if you can put a flat surface down against the platen and the cutter head then planes the other surface parallel. If you try to plane a board with two irregular surfaces the pressure from the cutter head twists the board.

 

By planing one side flat or better yet two sides flat and square with a jointer you can then square the board's remaining sides with a table saw or band saw. You can then rip uniform slices with a table or band saw. If you still want a planer, the jointer is needed to first flatten one surface.

 

I have a 3in Rockwell jointer that I bought many years ago. This is a heavy all cast iron tool that is large enough to handle ship modeling wood. I would rather use it than the cheaply made handy man quality tools sold by the big box retailers today. I suspect that you can find an inexpensive one used.

 

Roger Pellett

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Apple -

For me - I would have it cut into 1"- 1 1/2 " slabs.  Seal any cut ends - including branch knots -  Parafin works, but so does a couple of thick coats of left over latex paint.  Stack it somewhere protected - unheated attic works.  Sticker the slabs  = separate the slabs with 1/4 x 1/4 to 1/2 x 1/2 inch sticks to allow good air circulation around the whole plank.  Should be dry in 12-18 months.  If I was in a hurry, I would put my home made kiln back together and it would probably be dry in 2-3 months.   All it is-  a box made from foil faced 1 inch house foam insulating sheathing - heat source  200-300 W of incandescent light bulbs -  their output is mostly IR- heat -  and a surplus computer cooling fan to suck the water vapor out - Amazon has low cost fans - the tricky part for me - matching up the proper DC power supply.   Nothing industrial - I just wanted the environment to be hotter than Blue Mold would like - since I was drying green Holly.  Apple can be subject to fungus attack.   The difference is that Blue Mold just discolors the wood - it is still just as strong - might even work as a Sun bleached decking material - for a deck that had not been holystoned,   while the fungus that goes after Apple rots the wood.

 

Congrats on finding the wood.  Make sure you get enough.

 

I do not have a jointer or a planer.  Way back when, I tried to make do with a table saw - it worked to a point - would not buy one now -  I discovered that a big band saw is better, more efficient and safer.  I have a thickness sander that I made myself - at the time - the only way to have one.  Now I would get a Byrnes thickness sander.  An edger would be nice, but I made my own drum sanding table and added a fence to use it as an edger - the main problem is that I use a 1/6 HP motor - it is not powerful enough to take off much wood at a pass - it is fine for sanding frames - but 1-1.5 inch thick billet 16 inches long is a lot of work.

Edited by Jaager
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I had the great honor to have met Mr. and Mrs. Crabtree during their visit at the NRG conference in Mystic Seaport back in the late 1960's or early '70's.  We also had lunch together.  Mr. Crabtree was taciturn but attentive while Mrs. C was the business partner.  Mr. C had very large hands and keen eyesight. Perhaps his most amazing talents were his singular drive over 28 years of effort to his 'project' and his carving.  

 

He used a variety of woods to achieve the desired result: mostly apple for decks and hull planking, pear for frames and white thorn for the carvings.  He also used other species as well.  He harvested and seasoned his own woods, made his own fittings, fastenings, rope, sails and spars.  Mrs. C did the paint work and I think some of the sails.  (Google may have misstated his use of wood.) 

 

His collection is at the Mariners Museum and is quite spectacular.                                        Duff

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