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Period Ship Modelmaking, An Illustrated Masterclass by Philip Reed

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Period Ship Modelmaking, An Illustrated
by Philip Reed, Published 2007, ISBN978-1-59114-675-9

Philip Reed teaches his modeling techniques by taking the reader through the scratchbuilding of two 1:192 scale models of Prince de Neufchatel: a full hull model, and a waterline model. Though the scale used is considered “miniature” by most ship modelers, many of the techniques are adaptable to larger scales.

The format of the book is not quite a practicum, although many operations are presented in step-by-step detail, but the experienced modeler will have no trouble following the builds. Reed has the ability to make one feel that this level of craftsmanship is within his grasp with a little practice and persistence. Most of the techniques use hand tools or simple power tools such as drills or rotary tools, and Reed is not given to making his methods seem mysterious or difficult. And the photography (all in color) well displays his mastery of the techniques he uses. Most of the photographs are larger than the actual size of the parts being demonstrated, and one is hard-pressed to find flaws in the workmanship. In fact, one gets the impression that one is looking at a much larger model until page 62, where one encounters a photograph of the completed hull along with a 6” ruler, and realizes that the photo is actual size.

The book is full of innovative techniques for producing and assembling the parts that make up these two models, and makes use of some materials that many of us don't consider. In my view, the only disappointment is that plans for the Prince de Neufchatel are not included in the book, the author instead referring the reader to the Smithsonian Institution for a set of plans. At 1:192 scale (1/16” = 1'), the plans would be small enough to fit in the book, or perhaps have been printed on the back of the dust cover as in the Anatomy of the Ship series.


In progress: nothing
Midwest Chesapeake Bay flattie
scratchbuilt Grand Banks dory

Young Modeler 1:100 turtle ship

This was the morning when father, mending one hole in the thermos-flask, made three

--Dylan Thomas

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Thank you for this review Mike, it was very helpful. I was actually looking at Philip Reed's books with this one as the top of the list.


Does anyone else have any feedback on Philip Reed's other books?:

  • Waterline Warships: An Illustrated Masterclass
  • Modelling Sailing Men-of-War: An Illustrated Step-by-Step Manual
  • Building A Miniature Navy Board Model
  • Any other books he may have written 



"Without ships there is nothing"

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I have the building navy board stuyle and the sailing men of war.

There is considerable overlap in the three books, as some of the techniques are used in all types of ships.


The men of war is (as the title says) based on a large ship, the period ship modelmaking is the same on smaller ships (equal scale, thought).

The period ship modelsmaking is more explicit on the rigging. (Reed uses al kinds of meterials, the explanation is better in the book presented here)


I very much like the book on a navy board style model. (makes me dream of work to do in the future) 

As the other books use a solid hull type approach, the navyboard style book is (by definition) not.

It gives quite a lot of pictures on how to do a miniature (1:196) navyboard style model. In its set up it is comparable to the other books: some basic info on workplace and tools needed, some on wood types, other materials (Reed is quite liberal in materials 'accepted'), Followed by what I would call a very extensively illustrated build log.


There is in this last book some overlap with the McNarry and McCaffery books on miniature modelling.


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I too have the navy board and sailing men of war books, and very good they are too.  As Jan has said, there is some overlap.  I particulalry liked his description of his workshop in sailing men of war, I'm a keen enthusiast of other modelmakers workplaces.  If I had one criticism, it's that he does not elaborate on where to get the right timber in the UK, this difficulty has bugged me for years and it seems like importing from Hobby Mill of similar is a must unless one has extensive sawmill facilties and can buy by the cubic metre.


I'd recommend both books though, you will learn something even if you actually plan on modelling something a little different.

Current build: Lady Nelson

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