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Unskilled and Inexperienced

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Greetings to all!


I retired in December 2017 after 40+ years in the chemical industry. My main hobbies during those years were scuba diving, reading and old movies. Unfortunately that was not enough to occupy my time after retirement. Although I'd love to dive every day, I still needed something for my "surface intervals." I'd always been interested in anything nautical and saw model ships as a way to find purpose for my extra time. As of September 2018 I had NEVER tried building a wooden model ship. I built a balsa and paper model plane some 50+ years ago. That's the limit of my skills and experience.


Now, on October 1, 2018 I find myself beginning my first ever wooden model ship/boat. I selected the Model Shipways 18th Century Longboat as my first try. Already I have questions about "how to..." 


Today I removed the false keel, the keel and the stem from the parts sheet. I began sanding the burn marks and trying to see how the pieces fit together and what my next step would be...and already hit a snag...


       I noticed that there are two keel pieces and two stem pieces. On the plan sheet it looks like only one of each is used. Is this correct? Do I use one of each, or only one?


My current course of action is to sand off the burn residue and insure these pieces fit well. I will then try to sand the bearding line taper. What's the best way to transfer the bearding line to the opposite side of the false keel?


I then plan to lay out and sand the bulkheads/frames. I'll then stain all of those hull pieces with a light oak stain before attempting assembly.


Is this a good route to go? I am guessing this will take me a week or so. 


I also need to build myself a jig, but that's a topic for another time.


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Stop the presses!  You're way ahead of yourself.  1) It's better to scrape the laser char from the edges than it is to sand them because sanding will tend to round the edges, which you don't want to happen. 2) Use caution painting or staining. Always consider whether a coating on the wood will impair the strength of glue bonds.


The answer to your questions about the "double" keel and stem pieces is contained in the first page of Chuck Passaro's "build log" at

in this forum. (Click on the link box above.) Chuck designed this Model Shipways kit. (His build log is among several listed in the "Build Logs/kit models/small craft" section of this forum.) Chuck's log is beautifully photographed and his step-by-step explanations are fool-proof. He's always open to questions and is most generous in giving his time to share his experience with we lesser mortals. (I'd put him in the "National Treasure" category when it comes to ship modeling.) If you follow his build log precisely, you won't end up making mistakes and getting frustrated. As will everybody else, I expect, I would also suggest you obtain after-market blocks and rigging line from Chuck's Syren Ship Model Company, a sponsor of this forum. His line and blocks are "finestkind" and much better than what the kit manufacturers provide.


Read Chuck's build log from beginning to end and then do the same for some of the other "finished" build logs of this very well done model before you go any further. When you've done that, you won't be a "beginner" anymore!

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Hey welcome mate. My number 1 piece of advice is to follow what Bob said. Read every build log you can find, then ask questions if you are still unsure. My number 2 piece of advice is to then start a build log of your own. Someone else will be in your same situation as a new builder one day and may find how you tackled a particular part of the building process invaluable. Good luck.






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You have excellent advice above, Malcolm. We all start inexperienced and unskilled. It's a good place to start - it can only improve from there! You'll find good answers to your questions as you go along. There will be mistakes, but that's all part of the process. Have fun!

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2 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

Stop the presses!  You're way ahead of yourself.


I agree, but for different reasons.  The longboat is NOT a beginner's kit.  Because you are single planking and you can see both sides of the planking, this poses quite a few challenges.  Your planking has to be PERFECT.


Just my $.02. :cheers:  Good luck with your build.  I look forwrd to your log.

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Welcome aboard. Much good advice has been offered here. Maybe the most important may be to use the build logs as lessons but don't expect to match the experts yet. The Masters have, for the most part, been building for many years and have made all the mistakes that you will probably make. So you learn from your mistakes and surge ahead. Try not to get down on yourself because your model doesn't look like one you have followed on this site. I think I have found this to be the biggest challenge, being realistic in my expectations. 

Go slow and have fun, it's just work if you are not enjoying it. Sometimes if you feel overwhelmed, the best move is to walk away from the workbench for a day or so.

Patience is definitely a virtue.

Regards, Harley

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Thank you all for your best wishes. As I said in my introduction, I'm a complete novice to model building. I'm hoping to take it slow enough to avoid major mistakes and excessive frustration, but rapidly enough to see regular progress. 


I don't expect that my first effort will be bound for a museum...I'll be satisfied if it looks like a boat!


And I will maintain a build log as I progress. For now I'm trying to get my materials and equipment together; set up my work area (out of the way); do preliminary research and practice some skills; and then put the keel together...milestone #1.



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Welcome to MSW Malcolm! Best of luck to you on your build and don't worry about not knowing or needing to ask something. As you can already see, we are a great community for helping each other along. Most important thing is to have fun! You are building for yourself so no pressure. Again good luck and I look forward to seeing your build! :)


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