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Hull Planking Materials - Australia

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I was wondering if anyone could recommend a first layer planking material from the limited options available in Australia below - I need to order new planks as the method of planking I am adopting for a build requires more timbers than that supplied in an AL kit I have. I don't like to rely on the narrative provided by the supplier.







Silver Ash,





Edited by Richmond
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Lime wood, without question.  Soaked in water you can literally tie it in a knot!  Very flexible, easy to bend and forgiving. The others are far too hard and/or brittle  to work as a first planing in the thickness needed.  I have used boxwood, holly and Swiss pear as second planking in 1/32” thickness.

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  • 2 weeks later...





I actually have lots of trees on my rural property and several trees fall each year due to termites and many branches in high winds during the Wet Season; quite a lot came down during the cyclone. However its all spotted gum and ironbark - not sure if this is suitable for ship building. At the moment its forming a pile awaiting a burn permit, permits only get issued during the Wet.


I am considering growing some fruit trees - however I am not sure how old trees need to be before they are deemed suitable for building?





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It is the size - which I guess is a function of age - I would want at least 3" diameter and 2' long -

6 inches long will do since at 1:48 that is 24 feet.  40 feet is as long as I have seen for planking in published

lit. So, if that is your scale 10 inch stock will work. 

From the picture  Spotted Gum looks very promising.  Ironbark- grey looks worth trying too - can't tell if the surface has pores not not.

From the description, my #1 lesion below goes triple.  More HP is better, both sound hard.


Check local farms or a tree service if you have one near by for logs.  You want fresh cut.

If you have room and intend to do carving - try growing Washington Hawthorn  - or any Hawthorn.  You can also grow Boxwood (real Buxus semiverins) and prune it for vertical growth. If there are tree-like varieties, use them .  Your great grandchildren will thank you if any are ship modelers.

If you grow Apple, do not bother with dwarf or semi dwarf stock.  It will take longer to get fruit, but you will get lumber.  The Pear you want does not produce fruit, but is what they graft the fruit varieties too.  I think the Europeans consider this species a weed - Pyrus communis - but it is the lumber source.  The ornamental Pear - like Bradford -  grows fast - has really good wood - try a lot of this.  Around here, after a hurricane, it can be found literally laying in the street. 

Also, grow some Sugar Maple if you can.  I am cutting some now that is close enough to Boxwood not to matter for hull parts.


I like being self sufficient as much as possible, so for being my own saw mill - right now - the lesions that I think that I have learned:


1- a bandsaw powerful enough to do serious resawing. - low end units will fight you.

2- logs need to be fixed to a carrier board to keep them from moving - particle board screws and metal braces work. 2 perpendicular faces and the table and fence can be used directly.

3- a carbide blade is ultimately the less expensive - even if the initial cost is a shock.

4 - Coat the cut ends of green wood as soon as possible with latex paint, varnish, or hot paraffin wax

5-  2 inch billets will take 2 years to season, but if you do larger scales you will want this thickness

6-  Always sticker the drying billets - they need good air circulation to dry.

7-  fungus will want to eat green fruit wood.  A box of 1-2 inch Styrofoam insulating sheets - with enough incandescent light bulbs to get the inside temp above what a fungus will survive can save the wood and maybe speed the drying.  A computer muffin fan is enough to pull the water vapor from the box.

A kiln is better and faster, but I am not near a real sawmill.

8- a low quality thickness sander is not going to work well.  One that uses sheet or roll sanding media instead of sleeves has lower material cost and has a better choice the sanding grit.

9- chainsaws are faster than bow saws - just more dangerous and expensive.

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Thank you for your detailed and helpful response. I actually made an error, the main species is stringy bark, not spotted gum. We use spotted gum, grown in Queensland, for amongst other things, high end decking materials.


Will got to the nursery this weekend and see what's available from your list.



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Stringybark seems to be applied to a bunch of  Eucalyptus species. 

If what you have is Messmate - it is not gonna look good on a model.

Dye it blue or blue-green and It would make a baseboard for a model that

looks like a series of waves in chain.  I would go for that.


I don't see any of the other possible species in the database.  I would billet a

sample and plane it just to see if makes the grade.  It would be a shame to

make a bonfire of something useful. 


If you have the time and resources, an examination and test could be made of

your domestic hardwood species that are available commercially, and could be used

for ship models.  It might could be a help to make a virtue of your isolation and promote what you have available

there.  My target is tight grain, no visible surface pores,  low contrast between the Spring and Summer wood.

Fairly hard to very hard is good, crisp edges a must.

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