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Treenaling....wish I hadn't done this

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Not 100% sure this is a good idea, but who knows?


Perhaps you can sand the deck more and stain the deck. The tree nails look (almost) black, so they won't get darker, but when the deck gets a darker shade, the nails will not stand out as much as they do now.


It's just an idea....best do a test swap before you try (and curse me till the end of time for suggesting this).


When nothing helps...and you can't live with it....you can drill out the tree nails and use a lighter filler. (same disclaimer).


Best of luck.



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I have two suggestions for improvement, and one for future work.


1) Lighter color.  They stand out too much, and should be more of a subtle effect (not sure how you can achieve this given that you've already done this unless there is a way to chemically dissolve the filler you use without harming the wood).  You could also darken the wood with a stain to reduce the contrast, but no idea how that would look in context with your model.


2) You aren't doing anything to the planks where they cross the frames (imaginary or not) without butt ends.  These spots would also be nailed, either with a single nail or double, I've seen them both ways.


See this post from another thread for pictures of real ship decks to see what I mean about the plugs existing in the planks where they are not ending.




3) The pattern itself.  In general I think a 3 to 5 butt-shift pattern will look much better than the simple alternating 2 butt-shift pattern that you used.  Clearly this isn't a solution for this model unless you want to rip the entire deck off and re-do it.  Of course if you have actual documentation showing that the ship you are modeling used a 2 butt-shift pattern, then ignore this suggestion completely!

Edited by GuntherMT
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When you think of the time it takes to build one of these models, you don't say what it is, the time taken to plank a deck isn't that significant.

You could plank over it and timber is very cheap. I don't think you will remove all the wood filler from the decks by sanding. I replanked with my model the San Martin because I was unhappy with the width of the planks and the colour after finishing with Danish oil.

Edited by Slowhand
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I'm going to scrape with the razor blade, as advised, and the apply a medium dark stain. If I'm not satisfied, I'll plank over it. 


This is doubly frustrating as I bought and milled my own planks with some very nice maple I got at Woodcrafters.


Thanks for all the suggestions.


Live and learn I guess. I do want to treenail my next ship (Fair American), so I will put way more thought into it.

Edited by bigcreekdad
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I highly suggest for future models that you make sample deck sections in order to try various tree nailing and/or caulking systems so that you find what you like best before applying it to your model.


When I was making the AVS, I built several test deck sections using the exact materials I would be using on the model, and then used different sized holes and colors of fillers to determine what I liked best, that way when I did the model deck, I knew exactly what size of drill to use, how to do the caulking, and what filler I was going to use to fill the holes.


Don't forget to apply anything that you intend to use for a final finish also, as that can change the colors.  I used Wipe on Poly and applied it to my test decking sections as well.


Here was one of several sections of 'test decking' I made to see what the finished deck would look like:



Once I had decided on the color of the filler, and how I was going to do the actual caulking, I made another section where I tried different size holes using the final choices for filler.  I also tested my caulking (using a 3B pencil on the edge of the planks) with only a single side of the joint colored vs. both sides, that is why some joints are labeled 'single' and some are 'double'.



By doing this first, on test sections off of the model, I was fairly certain that I would not end up with a deck that I hated when I was done, and it saved me the pain that you are currently experiencing.


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A ship with planks laid in your pattern would probably never find anyone willing to insure it.

Gunther is correct about the butt shift and as evidenced by the trunnel locations - there are not

near enough deck beams. 

You could rip the deck up, or , use it as subflooring and add a top layer of planking using as thin a veneer as can be had to show. 

I would go for as little contrast as possible. 

I have bamboo skewers that are very hard, difficult to draw, stand up to force, but are significantly darker than Maple.

I have others that are softer, and are close to Maple in color, easy to draw, but want to split, and snap easily if the hole is not large enough.

At least in the time between 1815 and 1860 in the US, the planks could be 40 feet long in scale.

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    What size drill bit did you use?  The item you are trying to duplicate is only an inch to 1.5 inches in diameter (scale)


    Remember, decks are not tree nailed.  They are bolted.  What you see is a plug used to protect the bolt heads from weather, etc.  Plugs, like tree nails, will be subtle.  Looking at your model from 3 feet away is like looking at the real ship from 20, 30 feet away.  Subtle.


    If it were me, I would give the deck a good soaking with rubbing alcohol, rip up the deck and re-plank (sez a guy who just ripped off 4 weeks of hull planking to get it right.)

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The ocean being unforgiving - rules were developed for wooden ship construction.  Very little if anything was

left up to chance.


from: American Shipmasters' Assocciation - "Record"  a set of rules for the insurance companies.

also called the "American Lloyd's".  My guess is that much if not all was from Lloyd's of London rules.

These rules were probably developed " on the job"  from about 1550 on.


Deck plank

.....No butts of adjoining plank should be nearer each other than the space of two beams ( when a strake intervenes

the space of one beam will be allowed). No butts should meet on the same beam, unless there be three strakes between them.


These are minimum standards. Quality yards may have had four strakes.  Using long planks would help.

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Hint about razor blade scraping: File down or grind the corners of the blade first. Scraping is a GREAT way to take off material but the corners of the blade- if you use a razor blade-tend to dig into the wood and you get characteristic gouges, especially on the curved surface of a deck.

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bigcreekdad, what Jaager said is that if it were a real ship, it would not meet the construction requirements to qualify for insurance. Now, I have no idea what criteria insurance companies back then used, but his observations about the correct pattern of deck planking are spot on. When you replank your ship, I suggest you read this: http://modelshipworldforum.com/resources/Framing_and_Planking/Deck_PlankingIIbuttshifts.pdf

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If you want to add the simulated bolts as mentioned in several of the inputs by drilling and filling.

I would recommend to make a template, using sewing needles that has been inserted into something hard, approximate three boards wide.

You are now wondering why.

Going three boards wide, you will be able to center nails easily.

Glue the needles.

Now using a hammer, tap in the area you want to be marked and then drill.

This way you will have an even marking and on the plus side the drill will not wander of the target.


Just my two cents

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What scale are you building in?  At 1:48 you would have holes approximately the size of a number 76 drill bit.  If your scale is any smaller, you are best off either eliminating the pegs/trunnels/whatever-you-want-to-call-them or just make a shallow impression with a thin sewing needle and fill the impression with putty of the same color or slightly darker if that is the look you are trying to achieve.

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I'd like to suggest a different approach entirely, one that was touched on by a couple of  replies,  as regards scale, color and layout.


Don't DRILL holes for the treenails...just prick holes for the nails with a compass point or the like. Push the point in as far as needed to leave the right size (small) impression.  And  don't fill them, just varnish over them.  The same goes for the butt lines.  Do the marking before you finish the deck the first time...when you varnish the holes and lines they will be darkened enough. If you need filling for other reasons, apply it before making the marks.  Later sanding or scraping will not affect the treatment unless it is quite drastic. In such a case just  re-varnish the area.  I like to use Wipe-on Poly for this varnish.


I use a small (1/8 ") chisel with a good edge just pressed into the planking for the butt lines.  You have to have one about the same width or a little smaller than your planks.  And never have plank butts closer than three planks apart.


Remember that details like these are more suggestions of the real thing than explicit representations of them.




Remember scale...it goes for (dark) colors as well as measurements.  The size of the nails or caps was mentioned above.  At 1/4" scale, one inch is 1/48th of an inch real size, and the nails were not black.

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While the pin-prick method does work for some, I've never seen it implemented in a way that left the impression of a cleanly done plug.  I'd love to see photo's to prove me wrong on that one!



Remember scale...it goes for (dark) colors as well as measurements.  The size of the nails or caps was mentioned above.  At 1/4" scale, one inch is 1/48th of an inch real size, and the nails were not black.


The plugs were 1 to 1.5" typically (based on actual ships I've been on and taken pictures of).  This works out to .021" to .031" in 1:48 scale.


I chose to go large just because I liked the looks better and used a .031" drill for the plugs in my deck, and I am very happy with the result.


I encourage everyone to simply make up test deck sections and experiment with all the different methods until you are happy with the results.  It's your model, and you should make it in a way that makes you happy with the results!





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