Jump to content

Newbie to the hobby

Recommended Posts

Hello! I am Joel from the Philippines. I am looking forward to getting into this hobby of building ships or boats, I am interested in doing scratch built models w/c leads me to a question. What can be legally called scratch built? Do plans have to be your own? if I see model kit plans on Google and make the model out of this plans is it still considered scratch built or is it PIRACY? Please enlighten me on this matter. Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me start by saying welcome aboard! It's a great hobby and this is a very good site full of knowledgeable and helpful folk. I've never scratchbuilt, but I think the definition is building something that didn't come in a kit, which usually contain precut frames or bulkheads and other parts. You can definitely use plans drawn from the original ship, most people here do that and they can probably steer you in the direction of good places to find them. I think things get a bit more tricky when you are building from plans that were originally from other model kits, particularly if you are buying them off ebay, since you don't know where the person who is selling them got them. I think it's one thing if a friend passes on plans after he or she is done with a model, and a totally different one if there is some guy with a printer in his basement, so to speak, churning out copies of other people's work and selling it for his benefit. But I am sure folks here who are more knowledgeable can give you a better idea.


Under construction: Mamoli Roter Lowe

Completed builds: Constructo Enterprise, AL Le Renard

Up next: Panart Lynx, MS Harriet Lane

In need of attention: 14-foot Pintail in the driveway

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Welcome to the group, Joel.


I was confused about this matter many years ago when I gave up on kits and delved into scratch building.  Do I have to grow my own trees or can I buy wood from a hobby store?  Must I grow my own cotton and flax so I can rig a model and still call it scratch built?  Some years ago I saw an article on the subject, and while it may not have been authoritative, it said that no, you don't have to grow your own raw materials.  In fact it went on to say that you can not only buy thread and lumber produced by somebody else, you can also buy blocks, deadeyes and belaying pins if you can find the right sizes and shapes.  So at least one published author has set a fairly loose definition for "scratch" modeling.  And to think of all the blocks and belaying pins I laboriously manufactured way back when! 


I don't know if there is a hard and fast ruling on just what constitutes scratch building.  And I don't think there is any authority who has the power to make such a ruling.  I think you can all a model scratch built if it was never a kit and everything in it was made by you or bought as a raw material.  


Jim Hastings

Rapid City, SD, USA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to MSW, Joel.


Some groups say scratch building is building everything from scratch.  Others go further in that you must draw the plans. 


We're a bit more open on the term.  If take plans (more on that in a minute) and cut your own keel and bulkheads/frames, it's a scratch build.   One can use kit plans, etc.


As for the piracy issue... there are sites out there are offering plans and yes, many of those sites are pirating the plans.   So if in doubt ask first here:  https://modelshipworld.com/forum/13-ships-plans-and-project-research-general-research-on-specific-vessels-and-ship-types/

"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

Welcome to this fascinating and rewarding hobby, Joel, and to this forum which is full of friendly and helpful people, at all stages of experience and expertise (including plenty of beginners). 


I agree with the posts above - if you don't have pre-cut pieces such as frames etc, I think you can validly call it a scratch build. Do you have a particular ship in mind?


Oh, and when you start making the ship, make sure you start a build log. You can get a lot of help (and encouragement) from the other members of the forum.



Edited by Louie da fly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your warm welcome and advice. Truth is I bit the bullet too soon before I found this site. Found a tugboat plan and went ahead in redrawing the plans n cutting up the hull. Problem is now im stuck. seems a lot of alignment and proportion issues have been encountered. Maybe I have to go back to the drawing board and learn more skills before I proceed. I used box material for now







Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me scratch built means no pre-manufactured parts except for rigging and deck furniture. BTW you in the islands have a great 75th anniversary celebration coming soon. The role played by all navies, civilian and military can be easily overlooked. Start small, work up, never be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to MSW.


What can be legally called scratch built? Maybe you will find the answer in this topic. 

(And I really don't know why my Minerva comes as a photo in the link :blush:)




Regards, Patrick


Finished :  Soleil Royal Heller 1/100   Wasa Billing Boats   Bounty Revell 1/110 plastic (semi scratch)   Pelican / Golden Hind  1/45 scratch

Current build :  Mary Rose 1/50 scratch

Gallery Revell Bounty  Pelican/Golden hind 1/45 scratch

To do Prins Willem Corel, Le Tonnant Corel, Yacht d'Oro Corel, Thermopylae Sergal 


Shore leave,  non ship models build logs :  

ADGZ M35 funkwagen 1/72    Einhets Pkw. Kfz.2 and 4 1/72   Autoblinda AB40 1/72   122mm A-19 & 152mm ML-20 & 12.8cm Pak.44 {K8 1/2} 1/72   10.5cm Howitzer 16 on Mark. VI(e)  Centurion Mk.1 conversion   M29 Weasel 1/72     SAM6 1/72    T26 Finland  T26 TN 1/72  Autoprotetto S37 1/72     Opel Blitz buses 1/72  Boxer and MAN trucks 1/72   Hetzer38(t) Starr 1/72    

Modern Russian vehicles 1/72


Si vis pacem, para bellum

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Scratch built" can broadly  mean "not assembled from a kit." However, the designation takes on a more specific meaning and importance when models are entered in judged competitions or classified and cataloged by museum curators, appraisers, and auction houses. Such classifications and categories vary, depending upon whoever is doing the classification, but one generally recognized classification system in the United States is the one developed by the  The Mariner's Museum Model Ship Craftsman Competition and by Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, CT, USA) as prepared by R. Michael Wall in 1980.  This category system is used to classify quality models for sale in galleries and auction houses and in museum catalogs, as well as in judged competitions:



CLASS A:   SCRATCH-BUILT MODEL: Model built entirely from scratch materials by the builder with no commercially fabricated parts except cordage, chain and belaying pins.

CLASS B:   MODIFIED SCRATCH-BUILT MODEL: Model built from scratch, but supplemented by the use of

some commercially fabricated accessories.

CLASS C:   MODIFIED KIT MODEL: Model built from materials provided in commercial kit, supplemented by

other commercially fabricated parts or by scratch-built parts.

CLASS D:   KIT MODEL: Model built entirely from materials provided in commercial kits.

SPECIAL CLASS: SUB CATEGORIES: Model built and/or displayed in any of the following methods:

Antique Waterline    Cross Section    Cut-away    Exposed Interior    Sailing    Half Hull    Power

Rare Materials    Diorama    Mechanized    Builder’s    Extreme Miniature    Ship in a Bottle

Shadowbox    Americana    Folk Art    Decorative    Production    Pond Model    Other


These categories and standards of building techniques and materials requirements can be found in Ship Model Classification Guidelines published by Mystic Seaport and which can be found at http://www.shipmodel.com/pdfs/ship-model-classification-guidelines-1980.pdf


In terms of hobby modeling, by which I mean building models for pleasure and satisfaction, no rules at all need apply. "If it feels good, do it!" On the other hand, if you are interested in producing models that will be equal to those seen in international competition and major maritime museums, an accomplishment that takes decades to achieve, these are the classifications and quality standards that one must meet.


That said, one of the biggest challenges in the scratch building modeling game today is sourcing some of the old materials which are no longer in production like they once were, such as linen thread, solvent based paints, and some of the exotic stuff like now-endangered wood species (e.g. real ebony, boxwood, and rosewood) and ivory. New materials are available, often they are synthetics, and we don't know how long some of these will last, especially the new plastics, resins, and adhesives. How far one wants to go to ensure "archival quality" is, I suppose, a matter of how long they hope their model will last to be appreciated by future generations.


I would urge anyone who is interested in scratch building, and particularly anyone who wants to by-pass kit assembling at the beginning and start straightaway with scratch building, to start building a research library on the subject and study the recognized "Bibles," most of which, fortunately, are still in print. Some good ones are the books by Charles Davis, Harold Underhill, Gerald Wingrove, and C. Nepean Longridge. These are now perhaps somewhat dated, but they cover the basics well. Just as a musician must first master his instrument before embarking on jazz improvisation, so also the ship modeler has to develop the foundational skills of the craft. Many of us, and certainly the best modelers, began long before the internet provided us with an explosion of information and research opportunities. I envy those entering the ship modeling hobby today who have resources like this forum which should accelerate their learning curves exponentially. Read, watch, ask, and learn! We're happy to have you!


Edited by Bob Cleek
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...