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Hello to this great group. I am new to ship modelling, and I have been doing some online research before tackling my first model. I have looked at several tutorials and forums, trying to get as much information as I can before I tackle my next few steps. I would like to start by thanking you all for your contributions, pictures and videos. It certainly helps.  I have started on my first build, a Billings Norden 603, plank on bulkhead construction. I am about to start the framing, and have a bunch of questions and some comments, so I thought I would ask them all in one posting.

 

Planking Gluing . I have decided to use CA type glue (medium or thick). Hopefully this will avoid pins or clamps but I will have to work fairly fast. I will practise a bit before working on the model.

Plank Bending. I have a Hot Shot Steam Cleaner and tried bending some planks. It seems to work fairly well, but will have to experiment a bit more. Broke one board already, and I notice some separation of the wood fibres in the ones that did bend. Maybe I am trying to bend it too quickly.

Plank Cutting. I can cut planks to rough length before mounting, using a scalpel or Exacto type knife. But how do you trim planks once they are installed? Let’s say that you need to trim 1/8” at the stern after installing a plank. What is the best way to do that? I imagine using a knife would be difficult. Is there a fine saw that you use? Dremmel?

Keel Gluing. This particular ship comes with the keel split in 2 halves. Instructions say to plank first, then glue the keel together. However some people have posted that they glue the keel halves together first, then plank. I think the latter would be more difficult, but planking each half individually might lead to warping. Comments?

Hull Finishing. The hull will be a single layer of planking, and will be painted, so I will need to fill in the cracks. I have seen various methods including wood filler and glue & sawdust. Has anyone used gyproc  (sheet rock) filler? This works great for nail holes, baseboard joints, etc. so why not for a model? I want to get the hull as smooth as possible – this model scale is 1:30, so a scratch of 1/32” (0.8 mm) equals a gouge of almost 1” (2.5 cm). Ouch.

Decking Glue. I have seen several tutorials on how to lay out the wood decking strips. But I haven’t seen anything that tells me what sort of glue to use, or how to fasten the decking in place. I plan to stain this decking to look like a teak deck, so I don’t want any glue residue which will not absorb stain or finish. How do you guys fasten the decking?

Scuppers.  I plan to add scuppers to this boat. A real boat would have provisions for quick drainage of water from nets, rain, or spray in rough weather. So I will endeavour to cut some scuppers in the perimeter bulwarks.

 

Sorry for all the long winded questions, but I thought it easier to post once vs a whole bunch of individual posts. Thank you in advance for any help and suggestions. 

Cheers,  Gary

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Hi Gary, here's my view.  Others will most likely add their experience.

 

Glue:  There are as many answers to the "right" glue as there are builders or so it seems.  Experiment with some scrap and see what works for you.  

 

Bending:  I use a curling iron and a tub of water.  Dip the plank in, and use the iron to heat.  When the bending gets harder, reapply water and heat.  

 

Cutting:  Cut as close as possible.  Then after install, touch up by sanding.  I use sandings sticks from a beauty supply shop.  These the nail sanding sticks.

 

Keel:  No input here as I've not build one like that.

 

Finishing:  The problem with sheet rock filler is that it's more like plaster and thus, can crack.

 

Deck planks:  Again, many different answers.   I tend to use white wood glue and wipe of any excess with a damp cloth before it drys.

 

 

Don't take my methods as verbatim.  Everyone uses different methods.  For example clamps... some use specialty clamping, some pin, some use clothes pins and/or rubber bands while others use a mixture of clamps.  Depends on what the builder is comfortable with and the task at hand.  

 

I see 4 logs for the Norden.  You might read through them to see what they did.

 

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Welcome! You will find a lot of people happy to help you here. Many of them are extremely talented miniaturists. Some are well-known "world class" ship modelers. Don't be discouraged. Experience starts when you begin. Take it one step at a time. Do not rush. Care and attention to detail are the prerequisites to building a respectable model. Everything else you need to know can be found in this forum and in several fine "bibles" of model shipbuilding which you will probably acquire over time.

 

1.     Try to find a build log for this model or one similar to it. Billings has a series of working boats and I expect their building issues (and there will be some... there always are in any kit) will probably be addressed there.

 

2.     Go to the resources section of this forum and study the tutorials there.

 

       Go to the Western NY Model Shipwrights' Guild webpage and study their "resources" page: https://www.modelshipwrightguildwny.org/

 

        On that page, carefully study and learn these two tutorials on planking: 1)  https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/226021_09487f2b95af4dfda94bcf16f7f14016.pdf (Part One) and 2) https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/226021_a1f6a3f402ae4fc38dd90fd7049c7713.pdf (Part Two.) Don't be discouraged if they appear complicated. There's no way around it. Take it one step at a time. Practice on a "mock up," if need be, before you try to plank a plank-on-bulkhead model for your first effort.

 

I'm sure many will have more to add to your specific questions, but here's my two cents worth:

 

Planking Gluing . I have decided to use CA type glue (medium or thick). Hopefully this will avoid pins or clamps but I will have to work fairly fast. I will practise a bit before working on the model.

 

Follow the instructions in the planking tutorials. Read the section in this forum on adhesives. CA has its uses, but it is expensive and somewhat permanent, so mistakes may be hard to rectify. For planking, it is handy for use as "liquid nails" to tack down a plank, but I prefer to rely on good old Elmer's Wood Glue, which is removable with alcohol, for real holding power. Treenails are also good for making sure plank ends stay put where there's a lot of spring away from the rabbet.

 

Plank Bending. I have a Hot Shot Steam Cleaner and tried bending some planks. It seems to work fairly well, but will have to experiment a bit more. Broke one board already, and I notice some separation of the wood fibres in the ones that did bend. Maybe I am trying to bend it too quickly.

 

Steam works, but it's messy and somewhat dangerous, in that you can burn yourself easily with it. It's used in full-size boatbuilding because a whole piece of wood can be heated for an hour without drying the wood out as much and steam is a good way to get the heat to a large surface in a steam box. For little pieces of wood in modeling, getting the wood hot isn't so much of a difficult challenge. A store-bought plank bender, a steam iron (for the heat, not the steam,) or a soldering iron work just fine. Planks should be heat-formed before "hanging" on the model. Trying to bend planking directly on the frames or bulkheads before at least partially bending the plank with heat is the proper technique. You'll save a lot of broken planks that way.

 

Plank Cutting. I can cut planks to rough length before mounting, using a scalpel or Exacto type knife. But how do you trim planks once they are installed? Let’s say that you need to trim 1/8” at the stern after installing a plank. What is the best way to do that? I imagine using a knife would be difficult. Is there a fine saw that you use? Dremmel?

 

Again, read the planking tutorial for tools suggestions. Hobby knives are good. A small 1" iron plane is handy for trimming and beveling planks. No need to spend big bucks on a Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen piece of jewelry. The sharpness of the iron is more important than anything else on a small plane. You'll have plenty of time to collect fine tools along the way, but you can spend thousands on tools you think you must have before ever starting a model. Everybody has at least one modeling tool they bought when they started out, only to discover it was junk and they never used it. (Lot's of 'Loom-A-line" ratline jigs gathering dust in forumites' shops, I'm sure! :D ) Micro-Mark, a convenient one-stop source for modeling tools (although there are others offering better quality tools at better value) has a decent little micro-plane for ten bucks and they always are sending 20% off coupons if you sign up for them at the website. See: https://www.micromark.com/Mini-Wood-Plane?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=PLA_Brand&utm_term=4576304834449762&utm_content=Micromark PLA

 

For trimming overhanging planks at the end of topsides at a flat transom, a jeweler's saw is the tool of choice. This is essentially a small coping saw. You don't have to spend $150 bucks for one, although that's what the best will cost, but don't buy the cheapo models in the hobby tool catalogs, either. Get a decent mid-price-range one from one of the jeweler's supply mail order outfits on line. There's probably been a thread in here about the best jeweler's saw. If not, start one and you'll find out what people are satisfied using. Get a good selection of blades. The jeweler's saw will be useful for cutting wood and also fine metal sawing. For straight cuts, a "razor saw" that fits in a large "X-Acto" handle (and often comes with an aluminum miter box) is a good basic tool to have.

 

Keel Gluing. This particular ship comes with the keel split in 2 halves. Instructions say to plank first, then glue the keel together. However some people have posted that they glue the keel halves together first, then plank. I think the latter would be more difficult, but planking each half individually might lead to warping. Comments?

 

I have no experience with that building method and it would concern me. Rigidity of the keel and bulkhead structure is essential. So is alignment of the bulkheads square to the keel where that is indicated (the "fixed frames.") I can't imagine why anyone would add the complication of making sure half of each bulkhead was perfectly aligned with it's other half, if that's what you're describing. Sorry, but if that's the way Billings designed the model, I guess you may have to dance with the girl you brought. Search the building logs and see if anybody has described doing, or not doing, it the way the instructions direct. That will probably save you a lot of grief. 

 

Hull Finishing. The hull will be a single layer of planking, and will be painted, so I will need to fill in the cracks. I have seen various methods including wood filler and glue & sawdust. Has anyone used gyproc  (sheet rock) filler? This works great for nail holes, baseboard joints, etc. so why not for a model? I want to get the hull as smooth as possible – this model scale is 1:30, so a scratch of 1/32” (0.8 mm) equals a gouge of almost 1” (2.5 cm). Ouch.

 

Double-layer planking is more forgiving. Again, read the planking tutorial. Meticulous attention to detail is required for a fair planking job. The bulkheads have to be perfect or the planking will be funky. If you pay attention to planking correctly, you shouldn't have "cracks" to fill in. If you need to fair a less that perfect planking job, drywall patch will work, but you won't get a "model scale" finish out of it easily. The product that I've had the best success with is what is used on yachts for perfectly faired topside finishing, marine "glazing compound" or "surfacing putty" (same thing,) which is thinned with acetone and dries very quickly. It is specifically formulated for sanding and comes in pint cans. It also sands very easily and takes paint well. It's specifically designed for the job. Drywall plaster is coarser and you won't get as smooth a surface as with surfacing putty. It's softer and scratches easily. Drywall putty tends to soak up a lot of paint. Bondo and other stuff like that, while it might work, is far harder to shape and sand, as it's hard. (Bondo is really for use on metal, not wood. You'd get fired if you were caught using it in a good boatyard.) 

 

Decking Glue. I have seen several tutorials on how to lay out the wood decking strips. But I haven’t seen anything that tells me what sort of glue to use, or how to fasten the decking in place. I plan to stain this decking to look like a teak deck, so I don’t want any glue residue which will not absorb stain or finish. How do you guys fasten the decking?

 

For openers, there aren't many working fish boats with teak decks. It's very expensive stuff. Most work boats are planked with fir, larch, and similar species. It's your model. Just sayin'. Again, most use white or yellow wood glue ("Elmers" is the best-known brand.) If the deck planks are glued down, they aren't going anywhere. Many modelers will additionally fasten deck planks (and hull planks, if they show bare wood) with treenails. Care should be taken to place them where they would actually be on a real boat. (i.e at last two side by side at the ends of planks and at every intersection with a deck frame.) Wipe off glue residue with a water-dampened rag before it dries. Neatness counts in the first place, of course. Alcohol will remove any that you can't otherwise get off.  If you are going to stain or paint your deck, I'd suggest doing so before the planks are laid. Painting the edges black should ensure the planking looks real, as on real boats the deck planking is caulked and the seams paid with tar.

 

Scuppers.  I plan to add scuppers to this boat. A real boat would have provisions for quick drainage of water from nets, rain, or spray in rough weather. So I will endeavour to cut some scuppers in the perimeter bulwarks.

 

If you study your vessel carefully, or those of its type, you'll probably find a lot of details that can be added. By all means, do so if you so desire. That's what makes your boat "yours." Note that the picture of the boat on the kit box will always be of the model built by an accomplished modeler and often will have many added details. In many cases, if one built the model exactly as the instructions directed and used only the materials provided in the kit, it would look like crap. For instance, many modelers will automatically throw the planking stock and other wood in their scrap bin if it's junk, as it often is in kits, and order better wood from modeling suppliers on line. The same goes for rigging line and fittings. These are the parts of kits that are often not really suitable for a good model. "But that's everything in the kit!" you say.  See, now your are becoming an experienced ship modeler! Starting with a kit is a great way to go. Most do it that way, but most quickly move to "kit bashing" and, ultimately, to "scratch-building" as they build on the experience gained by their first kit builds.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Hello Tollyman hope life is good out there on the Island!

Good questions, I think we all eventually do what works for us given our own patience, skill and available time. This is what I do:

Plank gluing: CA is sometimes capricious for me.  I used CA medium exclusively on a double planked mahogany runabout hull and works well if you are careful to use very sparingly and hold firmly for about 15 seconds. Doesn't always hold in practice in my experience. I actually prefer wood glue with a high initial tack for all applications wherever possible. Very reliable and forgiving. My best authentic work has been when I pre-drill using a 1/32 bit, apply wood glue and pin planks to the ribs or bulkheads using a very small pin hammer. Of course you'd probably only do this if you want to make nailing visible for authenticity.

Plank bending: have tried various techniques, now just use a plywood shape which approximates a good general bend, use a small steamer and pre bend several planks at once and clamp to the plywood form. When dry, fit, trim and place on the hull. I've found most plank breaking during bending is due to angle of grain in the plank, so I use straight grain planks for critical bends.

Plank cutting: I roughly trim overhanging planks with an ultra thin razor saw ($10 from lee valley), sand to within about 1/16 along the form of the stern using my dremel 8050, and then block sand using fine sandpaper to perfection.

Keel gluing: I don't think it's critical one way or the other. Most models will be a full hull anyway. Yours can be done in two pieces which is easier to do given you can pin the half down firmly and flat on your worktable and plank away. If it's fixed down warpage shouldn't be an issue. If it was me, I would probably do some of the planking by halves, then glue and clamp the two parts together and finish off the more bendy planks to make sure the ends line up on the bow. 

Another related question is whether to install the finish keel and stem before or after planking. I do it before and then plank up to the finished keel and stem, because I find it easier to get a more perfect final fit.

Hull filling: for under planking I use whatever works, it's just creating a form. On single or outer planking I have never used anything like compound. I try to fit the planks to the best of my ability (back sanding the edges before fitting planks etc), and use a tinted woodfiller for any less than perfect spots before block sanding.

Deck planking: I always use the high initial tack wood glue for this.

 

Its a great hobby.

Tim

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On 1/16/2019 at 12:14 AM, Tollyman said:

Instructions say to plank first, then glue the keel together. However some people have posted that they glue the keel halves together first, then plank. I think the latter would be more difficult, but planking each half individually might lead to warping.

Hello Gary,

whoever designed this kit for BB, must have seen too many half hull models. I cannot see major benefits of this building method. Ships or boats are not built like this in real life or have I missed something?

I would start by tracing the keel halves and frames, if not included in the plans. Just in case, if something goes wrong - like resulting in a warped keel. Then you can always buy a piece of good aircraft plywood and make your own parts in any way you like. And forget the splitting even.

The trickiest part of this process is glueing the hull halves together. Before that you might want to add filler blocks between frame halves -  good for strength and for clamping. I´d leave the planking after that.

On 1/16/2019 at 12:14 AM, Tollyman said:

The hull will be a single layer of planking, and will be painted, so I will need to fill in the cracks.

If you don´t rush and plan it carefully, not many cracks will appear. Wood filler is the best, if needed.

Edited by andante
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Being uneducated in the ways of "split" keels, do they put or recommend positioning pins to align the keel pieces properly or is it random chance and skill of the builder?  If they don't do pins could they be incorporated early on say before anything else is done?   I'm just curious more than anything else as I can see a lot of issues doing the "two half model" thing.

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Re "split" keels construction method: Basically you punch out the lasercut holes or slots in the keel halves and glue the corresponding tenons of the half frames into them. 1-2 tenons in each frame. I have seen better ideas.

As for aligning the parts, keel supports etc you´re on your own. Instructions are very brief.

Edited by andante
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