Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

         I am a relative newcomer to the hobby,but have done a lot of plastic aircraft in the dim and distant past. I am almost at the end of my first build - HM Cutter Sherbourne (pictures to follow) and after perusing many logs, think I have decided on  HMS Pickle for my next model. But here is where it gets complicated; I loved doing Sherbourne and even did a small amount of "bashing" (with a little b and want to increase the detail levels on Pickle, the first being the visible wooden planking. Blue Ensign did a superb job on his version using ebony and boxwood (loved your log BE), and I have decided to swap out the annoying supplied walnut in the visible unpainted areas. But I know next to nothing about wood and their relative merits, the options from my preferred supplier are as follows:







& Spruce


All are available in the correct sizes and all seem reasonable in price. What I need is a wood that has a warm light colour, but more importantly is easy to work with, and holds a sharper edge than the supplied walnut.



Any help would be much appreciated.

Edited by Blueskippy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Blue skippy I am guessing but your list looks like it comes from



I would suggest an internet search that will give you the alternate names for these wood names and then information on their properties.


I suggest this as one who lives in an area that is lacking in both supply and types of woods.


Walnut is a fairly porous wood with an open grain structure, it sounds like you are looking for a more dense wood, of those you have listed the maple and cherry are both much finer grained (more dense)  the Maple being mostly lighter in colour (can be quite variegated in colour depending on the minerals in the soil where it grows) but holds an edge very well, and the Cherry is a more reddish brown wood that also holds an edge well


one of the things I have found with wood names and this seems to be a consistent issue is that different importers and suppliers of various hobbies and trades call a particular wood by a variety of names. Some of the names you list I had not heard of before, probably due to my being new to the hobby of model shipbuilding myself.


I am sure that some of the model builders here will have more experience with the woods you have listed than I have.. I hope I have not confused you too much with my ramblings.



Edited by michael mott

Current builds  Bristol Pilot Cutter 1:8;      Skipjack 19 foot Launch 1:8;       Herreshoff Buzzards Bay 14 1:8

Other projects  Pilot Cutter 1:500 ;   Maria, 1:2  Now just a memory    

Future model Gill Smith Catboat Pauline 1:8

Finished projects  A Bassett Lowke steamship Albertic 1:100  


Anything you can imagine is possible, when you put your mind to it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To my understanding fruit woods are best for bending and shaping and also hold an edge well. Cherry, pear, apple... Cherry will have a great variation in colour though, which I like. Dad has a 30+ year old persimmon tree in the back yard, I'd love to harvest a few limbs from it.




Oak is also used alot in bending but is typically done green. The back/arm assemble and spindles in a winsor chair are typically oak. Oak is not good for modelling due to its porous nature, red is worse then white oak. Its also very interesting how wood can vary so much within a species. As Michael pointed out growing conditions have a great effect on wood quality. This is why English Oak was preferred in early ships to american. The slower growing english oak was much tighter between growth layers which made for a denser wood.


Wood is so interesting, like humans no 2 pieces are alike.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From your list, cherry and beech would be good choices. Maple can also work very well, provided it does not have a lot of figure or spalting. If it has a clear grain and texture it will be fine.


I prefer cherry. It can go from a light tan to a dark, reddish brown. The lighter color is the sapwood and the darker stuff is heart wood. I prefer the heart wood. Cherry can have some wavy grain areas and knots, but these should be avoided as much as possible.


Hope that helps.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all, maple or beech it is then, I like the sound of cherry but don't want Red for this job.

Michael you were right my closest supplier is Cornwall model boats, they have so far been helpful, competitive and fast in deliveries. I like where possible to use local(ish) companies.

Thanks again all, I am sure I will be asking more questions in the near future.



Edited by Blueskippy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Russ and Skippy, be wary of Beech.  Depending on where sourced etc, I have found that while it bends OK it was poor quality in finish; it may have been the variety I used, but I have tried two different sources (suppliers) with the same result.



Skippy, if you are after a lighter wood, have a look at/consider Chuck's builds.  He uses basswood and with a bit of stain applied, looks 'the ants pants'.  This readilly available from many sources.





If at first you do not suceed, try, and then try again!
Current build: HMCSS Victoria (Scratch)

Next build: HMAS Vampire (3D printed resin, scratch 1:350)

Built:          Battle Station (Scratch) and HM Bark Endeavour 1768 (kit 1:64)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience with beech is that it is best used as planking.  The grain structure is such that two surfaces have small dots that simulate oak...red oak if it is steamed European beech and white oak if it is not steamed.  The other 2 surfaces that are perpendicular shows the ray structure and most times there are large brown blobs that are unacceptable to me.  So stay away from timbers or places where those other surfaces are exposed.


European beech is fairly hard.  I can get a good surface on it, but then I am probably using a finer grade of sandpaper.  It probably takes 2x's as many passes as other woods to get it dimensioned.  If you have not done a lot of planking and you are planking areas that curve such as the hull, then I would agree with Pat and his suggestion of basswood.


Just a thought.


Jeff Hayes


aka HobbyMill

NRG Member


Current Build: Constitution

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Pat on Chucks builds. I love his pinnace with the pale basswood. My limited experience with basswood is that it to has a slight colour variation. I used this difference to accent the magogany stripe in my peterboro build. I've also found that the darker vs lighter soak and bend differently so I'm assuming its a sap wood vs heart wood thing. I find the heart wood (darker) needs longer to soak, but works better. But again thats with VERY limited experience building boats.


I can tell you this for certain, cherry is great for smoking meat. We lost a wild cherry in a storm in 2008 and I saved bunches, wish now I'd saved more, most got used as campfire wood. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take a look at this link, if you like: http://www.dlumberyard.com/wood.html  Go down to the "wood samples".   Dave has almost all (might just be all) of the woods used in ship modeling listed.

"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)         



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your comments, I think I will order a sample of maple, and one of lime (basswood I believe) and compare. I see what you mean about chucks builds..... One day maybe?!?!


Thanks again

Edited by Blueskippy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you go to the Article Downloads section on the main page of this site, then go to 'Ship Model Material & Tools', you'll find two comprehensive articles on woods for ship modelling and their characteristics which you can download.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...