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Hi everyone,


I'm new to wooden ship building.  I've been doing some 3d stuff but I want to try my hand at the traditional method.  I want to make an 1:48 admiralty model of a sister ship of the HMS Pandora.  I know that's above a beginner but I'm willing to give it a shot.


I don't know what wood I should start out with.  I've played around making a stern post out of poplar from Lowe's but I found poplar is too "fuzzy".  So I got a piece of pine from Lowe's and I found I can work it better than poplar but the grain doesn't look right.  (ok, obviously I'm not going to pick the boards at Lowe's with knots)  Lowe's has red oak but I know that's not a good option for model ship building.  I'm going to check Hobby Lobby and see if they have Boxwood.  I want to keep it cheap for now since I'm just playing around with the idea of making a model.


Any opinions or suggestions?

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From what I understand, the better wood to use in model ship building is of the fruit-tree type (pear, cherry).  There are those that swear by expensive wood used for museum quality models, but I have worked with beech as I was able to obtain a fair amount of 6mm boards for a cheap price.

The grain is a bit coarse, but at 1/48 I feel it does not bother me as much as the grain in say pine would do.


Having said that, I am in regular contact with an experienced builder who has used pine, and now prefers to use lime wood for all his ships.  I have worked with it, feels softer than beech but works really easy and can be stained to look like any wood you choose.  As I understand it, it is also one of the cheaper options available.


Try to avoid anything too soft, cush as e.g. balsa.  It tends to splinter too much - or so I am led to believe.

Hope this helps


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Thanks guys for all of your suggestions.  I want to avoid expensive wood right now since I'm not really serious about it right now.  I figure I would make the keel and frame and reevaluate my desire to build a ship model.  At that point I'll look into more expensive woods that are not readily available in my area.  Until that point I'm stuck with poplar and pine from Lowe's hardware store and basswood.


Poplar doesn't sand or cut well.  Pine does and it feels studier and stronger which I enjoy because it's easier to make rabbet joints but the oversized grain is very obvious.  I got some basswood from hobby lobby but it was expensive.  It was just as fuzzy as poplar but I feel poplar was stronger.  I saw though bass wood bends easily.  So right now I'm leaning towards pine.  Is there any advice ya'll can give me about pine?  At least when it comes to framing and the keel?

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White Pine is a traditional species for a solid hull.   The  pine that you are getting is probably from a tree farm, a species or hybrid species chosen for rapid growth and a straight trunk.  I would guess wide grain that is high contrast.  It could also have gummy sap.  Not a particularly good choice for model making.

Yellow Poplar is a good choice.  It is a bit too soft for POF hull construction for my taste, but it will do the job well.  With the proper cutting tools, Yellow Poplar should work well.  I used it for a plug to make a 1840 1st launch and it cut and sanded well.  It carves easily - you just need a sharp edge and fine touch to keep from removing more than intended.  The only real downside is the green color if it is left natural and clear finished.

You do not identify your location - if you are in North America, see if there is a hardwood vendor in your area.  Hard Maple and Black Cherry are at the low end of cost for a domestic, and are about as good as it gets for our use.

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I'm from Central Texas.  Were you Navy?  The Pine I'm using isn't the lumber kind.  It's the mold/trimming pine found in the board/slant section of Lowe's.  It doesn't have any sap and very, very few knots.  In fact if I recall only one board had a knot in it when I was looked at them in Lowe's.  So far I like it besides the visually high contrasting grain.




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No, not Navy, although they are close neighbors now.  I was PHS. 

Two LSD are in, but parked around the corner and a container ship

whose engine seems to have not worked for at least 10 years and I guess 

belongs to the Reserves is hiding the Cyclones and and experimental

stealth twin hull vessels.


So, you have whatever is being substituted for White Pine these days,

or may be Eastern White Pine.


With a hardwood with a Janka hardness rating closer to 1000, the sharp edges stay

more crisp and do not ding as easily.

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An excellent wood but very difficult to get hold of is New Zealand Kauri. I bought some reclaimed blocks when I lived there and the grain is close and straight as a die. I have a plank of swamp Kauri that is carbon dated to 40,000 years old. If you are interested in wood Google Kauri Kingdom at Awanui. If I ever pluck up the courage to build anything with it, I may be able to claim the oldest boat in existence.

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It likes to keep an edge.  I'm concerned about shrinkage though.  It seems the gaps in my joints are getting wider.  Either that or I'm getting better at making joints and I'm noticing my the poor quality of my previous work.  I think it's affecting my allergies too.


If I had the money and the dedication I would get better wood but at this point I think Pine will work for me.

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