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Recommendation - First scratch build

Bill Hill

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Hi, have you thought about Chuck's Winchelsea? It is a plank on bulkhead build but you can either scratch build all of it or get some of the laser cut parts if you want.

Just my thoughts. 


Current builds;

 Henry Ramey Upcher 1:25

Providence whaleboat- 1:25     HMS Winchelsea 1764 1:48 


HM Cutter Sherbourne- 1:64- finished    Triton cross section scratch- 1:60 - finished 

Non ship:  SBD-3 Dauntless 1:48 Hasegawa -FINISHED



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And don't forget the Cheerful from Syren.  Like the Winchelsea you can scratch or get some of the parts as mini-kits.  


You can also start off with a cross section if interested in fully framing.  There are many build logs of various sections here including one recently completed by DocBlake using the Anatomy of the Ship Book on HMS Blandford.

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Also, go have a look at the Triton Cross Section (top of this page in Group Projects tab). 

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans - ON HOLD           Triton Cross-Section   

 NRG Hallf Hull Planking Kit                                                                            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)         



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If you are going to spend the time doing a scratch build might I  recommend perusing the National Maritime Museums ships plans on their web site. They have lots of original plans on a variety of vessels which you can purchase. Even if you don't find something that catches your eye, it's just fun to look.

Completed scratch build: The armed brig "Badger" 1777

Current scratch build: The 36 gun frigate "Unite" 1796

Completed kits: Mamoli "Alert", Caldercraft "Sherbourne"

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Schooners make great first scratch builds.  Mine was the Prince de Neufchatel (Baltimore Clipper) made from Chapelle plans.


Model Shipways sells their plan sets reasonably, too.

Edited by GrandpaPhil

Building: 1:64 HMS Revenge (Victory Models plans)

1:64 Cat Esther (17th Century Dutch Merchant Ships)

On the building slip: 1:72 French Ironclad Magenta (original shipyard plans)


On hold: 1:98 Mantua HMS Victory (kit bash), 1:96 Shipyard HMS Mercury


Favorite finished builds:  1:60 Sampang Good Fortune (Amati plans), 1:200 Orel Ironclad Solferino, 1:72 Schooner Hannah (Hahn plans), 1:72 Privateer Prince de Neufchatel (Chapelle plans), Model Shipways Sultana, Heller La Reale, Encore USS Olympia


Goal: Become better than I was yesterday


"The hardest part is deciding to try." - me

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If you feel you are sufficiently knowledgeable to build a full-sized vessel from lines drawings, you've pretty much got it licked. You can just pick any of the thousands of ships whose lines and rigging details are are available in print, on line, or from museums and archives and start building. That would presume you had a full command of the nomenclature and an ability to loft patterns from lines and/or tables of offsets and were familiar with construction practices and rigging appropriate to the period of the vessel you want to model. That level of knowledge requires a learning curve that goes far beyond building kits. If you don't have that level of experience, then Underhill's books and similar ones are excellent starting points, although a bit dated now in terms of technology and technique. Consider them a "must have" for your modeler's library. Understand that you will likely encounter difficulties without a decent reference library that contains at least the basics. (Collecting books can get as addictive as collecting tools!)


If you aren't already at least an "armchair" loftsman, sawyer shipwright, jeweler, tailor, painter, ropemaker, and however many other trades and crafts are involved in scratch-building ship models, then pick any one of the many practicums that will walk you through a scratch-build of a relatively simple model. Practicums come in the form of on line PFD articles, CDs, and books. (Underhill's Plank on Frame Models is a practicum for a merchant brig, Leon.  Longridge's The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships is a practicum for Victory.) Many of the more detailed MSW build logs are pretty much practicums in and of themselves. Be aware, however, that practicums vary in the amount of prior knowledge they presume their readers have. Some will only address unique construction details and, for example, leave the builder to reference another work to obtain details on rigging. 

From what I've seen, you won't go wrong taking on anything from Syren, Ronberg, or Anscherl. 


There are some useful articles on the (somehwhat neglected of late?) MSW articles database:



http://modelshipworldforum.com/resources/pinnace instructions me.pdf

http://modelshipworldforum.com/resources/Chuck Passaro - MS Brig Syren Prototype Build Log.pdf

Edited by Bob Cleek
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I am also building my first scratch build and I selected Syrens Cheerful.   The plans and instructions are stellar.  Chuck has the instructions on line so have a look.   I think it is a good first step in the scratch build world with the Winchelsea as a nice second step up in complexity.  Imho. 

Bill B. 

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I think it fair to say that any project whose appearance and/or history that takes your interest will be fine especially if one or more blogs are already on this site. Much more work is needed for the scratch built and I would suggest that a scroll saw as well as a table saw are important to avoid slow repetitive and boring work. 

current build- Swan ,scratch

on shelf,Rattlesnake, Alert semi scratch,Le Coureur,, Fubbs scratch

completed: nostrum mare,victory(Corel), san felipe, sovereign of the seas, sicilian  cargo boat ,royal yacht caroline, armed pinnace, charles morgan whaler, galilee boat, wappen von hamburg, la reale (Dusek), amerigo vespucci, oneida (semi scratch) diane, great harry-elizabethan galleon (semi scratch), agammemnon, hanna (scratch).19th cent. shipyard diorama (Constructo), picket boat, victory bow section

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No I don’t have a saw.  I was fortunate to get all the Cheerful wood precut from Chuck before he stopped providing precut strips.    For my next project I will most likely invest in a Byrnes Saw and possibly a thickness sander unless I can borrow their use from some of my ship model club members.   That’s one of the real perks of being part of a great ship modeling club.  😉



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You are potentially golden.   In your place, I would see if the local club has a member with a large band saw.  If there is one, see if he is willing to let you use it.  If yes, find out the length of the blades on his machine. 

Go to Band Saw Blades Direct and order one or two Lenox bimetal Diemaster 2    4 tpi 1/2" by 0.025" blades.  All steel have a short life and carbide does not last enough longer than bimetal to justify paying 3 times more for it.   It would be pushing charity too far to use a donor's blade for a serious number of cuts.  As a beginner in scratch building,  it would be practical to forego using expensive fad/cachet species that are imported and use less expensive locally available species, at least until you have enough experience not to have to ask.   I would see if I could make friends with Riephoff Sawmill or similar.  See if you can get 4x4 or 8x4 domestic hardwood of the proper species.  The commercial ones are Hard Maple, Black Cherry, Yellow Poplar,  outside possibility Honey Locust.  Kiln dried,  If there is a local kiln that caters to civilians, you can get fast access to self harvested species.  Otherwise it is billet, seal, stack, sticker in a out of the way sheltered and ventilated location, and wait years.   Local species that are worth the bother = Dogwood, Apple, Pear (both fruit and ornamental)  Plum, Hawthorn. 

The next stage is a thickness sander.  I have homemade and Byrnes.  Byrnes is worth the cost.   Once you have one dimension from the sander, it is time for a table saw for planks, etc.  Again, Byrnes is worth the extra cost.


NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


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