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Well, that is a difficult query to accurately answer!  I suppose that, given just the query itself, my answer would be "It Depends".


Previous experience in wood and knowledge of the ship, as well as the era or time period of interest, can all drive the recommendation.  In addition, the bias of the respondent can also alter the recommendations. 


What i offer here are a smattering of what, to me as a beginner, I have found most useful.  It is not a complete list, and is heavy on some of the older "classics".  The purist builder will find this list shocking - it ignores some of the more modern writers (such as Edward Tosti and David Antscherl) and is focussed on the beginner and the development of experertise and skill, rather than the master builder guides.  Note also that most of my recommendations below are also readily available via various book sellers.


So, here we go:


Campbell, G.F. 1991. Neophyte Shipmodeller’s Jackstay. Model Expo Co.
Davis, C.G. 1984. American Sailing Ships: Their Plans and History. New York: Dover Publications.
———. 1986. Ship Models: How to Build Them. New York: Dover Publications.
———. 1988. The Ship Model Builder’s Assistant. New York: Dover Publications.
Dressel, D. 1988. Planking Techniques for Model Ship Builders. 1st ed. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books.
Johnson, G. 1996. Ship Model Building. 3. ed.,  and enlarged, 11. print. Centreville, Md: Cornell.
Julier, K. 1993. The Period Ship Handbook. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
———. 1995. The Period Ship Handbook 2. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
———. 2003. Period Ship Kit Builder’s Manual. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press.
Lankford, B. 1988. Watercraft Modeler’s Handbook. Silver Spring, Md.: Nautical Research Guild.
McCann, E.A. 1927. Ship Model Making: How to Make Worth-While Models of Decorative Ships. 1St Edition edition. The Norman W. Henly Publishing Co.
———. 1995. How to Make a Clipper Ship Model. New York: Dover Publications.
Pariser, Daniel, ed. 2009. Ship Modeler’s Shop Notes, II. Cuba, NY: Nautical Research Guild, Inc.
Underhill, H.A. 1958. Plank-on-Frame Models and Scale Masting and Rigging. 1: Scale Hull Construction. Glasgow: Brown, Son and Ferguson.
Underhill, H.A. 1979. Masting and Rigging: The Clipper Ship [and] Ocean Carrier. With Authentic Plans, Working Drawings and Details of the 19th and 20th Century Sailing Ship. Glasgow: Brown and Ferguson.
Underhill, H.A. 1985. Plank-on-Frame Models and Scale Masting and Rigging. 2: Mastmaking and Rigging, Sailing Models and Power Craft Hulls. Glasgow: Brown, Son and Ferguson.


Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.

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Thank you so much Sir.  That is more than enough! This will keep me busy for a long time.  I'm especially interested in reading about planking, spiling the planks, beveling the planks, how and where to glue planks, Pretty much everything about planking. I see a Planking Techniques book in that list. NICE!  Thanks again!



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For planking techniques, have a look at the pinned topics here:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/forum/14-building-framing-planking-and-plating-a-ships-hull-and-deck/


For more, have a look in the article database here:  http://modelshipworldforum.com/ship-model-framing-and-planking-articles.php


A good overall reference work (it does have it's issues) that will get you familiar with zu Mondfeld's Historic Ship Models.  No techniques as such but does give a general overview of wooden ships in general.

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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The planking booklet that brought it all together for me is "Planking the Built-Up Ship Model" by Jim Roberts, available from Model Expo



I read the book several times and confess I didn't really understand it until I got a small plank-on-bulkhead hull and planked it using the techniques in the book. For some reason, the "doing" versus just the "reading" made it all understandable.


Cheers -


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Lennarth Peterrson's 'Rigging Period Ship Models' is usually on my bench when rigging commences. Few words but excellent diagrams.



Current Build: - OcCre Shackleton’s Endurance. 


Completed Ship Builds:

                                     Caldercraft - HM Bark Endeavour. (in Gallery)

                                    Caldercraft  - HMAV Bounty (in Gallery)

                                     Caldercraft - HM Brig Supply (In Gallery)

                                     Aeropiccola - Golden Hind

                                                        - Constitution

                                     Clipper Seawitch (maker unknown - too long ago to remember!)

                                     Corel - Victory

                                     Modeller's Shipyard - A Schooner of Port Jackson - In Gallery

                                                                      - Brig `Perseverance' - In Gallery

                                                                      - Cutter `Mermaid'- In Gallery

                                                                      - Sirius Longboat (bashed) - In Gallery

                                                                      - Sloop Norfolk - In Gallery

                                      Completed Cannon:   - French 18th Century Naval Cannon

                                                                      - Napoleonic 12 pound field piece

                                                                      - English 18th Century Carronade

                                       Non Ship Builds - Sopwith Camel - Artesania Latina

                                                                   - Fokker DR1 - Artesania Latina


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All great suggestions here.  If you are looking for one book to buy to get you started, I would second Frank Mastini's book.  It's very basic but gives a really good overview of model ship building.  From there, zu Mondfeld and the Lennarth Petersson book (for rigging) can take you through your first build.  


If you have the money (and the time to read them), buy the other books that were mentioned.  Each has good nuggets of info.  I would highly recommend looking on Amazon for used books, as well as Abebooks.com and eBay.  A lot of these books can be bought for very little money.  Some of the more rare and highly sought after books can go in the hundreds, but the vast majority of the books mentioned here are not in that category (the Frolich book is one that is pretty pricey).



Current Wooden builds:  Amati/Victory Pegasus  MS Charles W. Morgan  Euromodel La Renommèe  


Plastic builds:    SB2U-1 Vindicator 1/48  Five Star Yaeyama 1/700  Pit Road Asashio and Akashi 1/700 diorama  Walrus 1/48 and Albatross 1/700  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/32


Completed builds :  Caldercraft Brig Badger   Amati Hannah - Ship in Bottle  Pit Road Hatsuzakura 1/700   Hasegawa Shimakaze 1:350

F4B-4 and P-6E 1/72  Accurate Miniatures F3F-1/F3F-2 1/48  Tamiya F4F-4 Wildcat built as FM-1 1/48  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/48

Citroen 2CV 1/24 - Airfix and Tamiya  Entex Morgan 3-wheeler 1/16


Terminated build:  HMS Lyme (based on Corel Unicorn)  


On the shelf:  Euromodel Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde; Caldercraft Victory; too many plastic ship, plane and car kits


Future potential scratch builds:  HMS Lyme (from NMM plans); Le Gros Ventre (from Ancre monographs), Dutch ship from Ab Hoving book, HMS Sussex from McCardle book, Philadelphia gunboat (Smithsonian plans)

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  • 4 months later...

What is a good book about tall ships?  Not modelling books.  Just want a good book on ships in general, preferably with plans and drawings.


If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea  

Antoine de Saint Exupery


Current Builds

Bluenose - Model Shipways - 1:64 Scale

Fair American - Model Shipways - 1:48 Scale

HMS Winchelsea 1764 - Group Build

On Deck

Guns of History Naval Smoothbore Deck Gun - 1:24 Scale

Finished Builds

Mare Nostrum - Artesania Latina - 1:35 Scale

Guns of History Carronade - Model Shipways - 1:24 Scale


Member of the Nautical Research Guild


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I don't think you can go wrong with Historic Ship Models by Wolfram zu Mondfeld.



Member: Hampton Roads Ship Model Society

Current Builds: Tugboat Dorothy  Newport News Shipbuilding Hull #1 (complete)

                            Iron Clad Monitor (complete) 

                            Sardine Carrier which I will Name Mary Ann (complete)

                            Pilot Boat John H. Estill Newport News Shipbuilding Hull #12 (my avatar)

                    Harbor tug Susan Moran

                    Coast Guard 100' patrol boat

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What is a good book about tall ships? Not modelling books. Just want a good book on ships in general, preferably with plans and drawings.

For American, Howard Chapelle Search for speed under sail or History of American sailing ships. Both include interesting narrative history and multitudinous plans. He also has one focused on US Navy - The History of the American sailing navy.


For British focus, David Macgregor provides wonderful coverage of primarily the merchant service. See his Fast sailing ships or his Merchant Sailing ships 1775-1815 (and other as well). Crothers does well covering American clippers and packets.


Oops....you wanted but one - can't help there! Too broad a topic to address well in a single book. If pushed, I say choose Chapelle "History of American Sailing Ships".


Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.

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