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Changeing 2nd plank material

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As a newby i have question regarding changeing 2nd planking material.

Is it common for builders to change 2nd planking material example to pear?

If you change the material then does it make it "historically uncorrect"?

When you change it then why - is it just visual aperance?


Thank you for your answers for stupid questions.



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Hi Wahka,


Many builders change the 2nd planking for another wood. Pear is indeed an excellent planking timber and readily available in Europe in

sheets or milled planks and not too expensive. It also has very little grain showing. Cherry and Maple are also suitable timbers.


As far as historically incorrect goes most period ships were planked with oak which is not really suitable for modelling purposes at all. BTW,there is

no such thing as stupid questions on MSW,that's how we all learn "how to do it" correctly :)


Kind regards,


Dave :dancetl6:

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4 hours ago, Wahka_est said:

Is it common for builders to change 2nd planking material example to pear?

I have zero experience with current kits, but I suspect many if not most kit builders would use Pear if they could.


4 hours ago, Wahka_est said:

If you change the material then does it make it "historically uncorrect"?

Your question presupposes that most kit manufacturers use historical accuracy as a decision point for their choice of planking materials.  Except for the "boutique" kits based here, the wood species in kits tend to have names that sound like they are special  e.g. Walnut  but they usually have out of scale grain and have open pores.  It is low cost and volume availability that usually drives the decision.  The original English ship models that we use for inspiration made heavy use of Pear.  The grain of Pear places it within the relative handful of wood species with scale proper grain and very small pores and density and structure to hold a sharp edge and meet the stresses.  The color is about art.  The actual ships were usually made from a white Oak species or hard Pine species (called Fir at the time).  It was usually coated with a water repellent "gunk" that was dark and in the 19th C.  black paint.


4 hours ago, Wahka_est said:

When you change it then why - is it just visual aperance?

Not just visual.  Scale effect.  better working characteristics.

If you get Pear sheets, you can "spill" the planks that would otherwise require edge bending - something that wood does not do easily or with the desired stability.  The tubes of cellulose do not "want" to stretch on the outboard side and compress on the inboard side of the thick dimension and will twist if they can.   Over time and humidity changes, they tend to try to straighten out when nobody is watching.

Edited by Jaager

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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The species of wood used in a model is chosen not only for work-ability, but also for appearance. Pear, ebony, and boxwood were used on the well-known Admiralty Board models of the 18th Century and much of the wood on those models was left "bright" (a natural finish, rather than painted) because the purpose of the Admiralty Board models was in part to depict the construction methods to be used in building the prototype. Building a model today with the wood left bright is a stylistic thing of the moment, indeed something of a fad, though not in the bad sense of the term. Basically, it's a duplication of one's interpretation of the Admiralty Board model style. It requires exotic species that offer the trifecta of great physical properties, relative ease of working, and beauty, which comes at a very high price. It also demands the highest skill to yield the desired result. 


From the standpoint of "historical accuracy," in real life, with the exception of decks and perhaps spars, there was very little bare wood on vessels. Wood was painted to preserve it. (Decks were left bare to provide  good footing.) Even bare decks quickly became black with pine tar tracked all over them. Admiralty Board models primarily showed how a vessel was to be built, not how it was actually going to look.


There are very few actual contemporary Admiralty Board models in existence. In fact, the majority of the "masterpiece" models in our museums are painted and, the appearance of the wood thus being of no matter, are built of species of wood other than the rare, exotic, and expensive. These models are built in a different style, emphasizing not the construction details of the prototypes, but rather their appearance. There are very few kits which are intended to produce a true Admiralty Style model. Certainly, no kits which are double planked do.  There's no denying the impressive craftsmanship and beauty of an Admiralty Board style model done well, but other, more realistic appearing styles are every bit as worthy of appreciation. Those who have not yet attained the pinnacle of skill and experience it takes to build one are better advised to develop their skill and experience "doing the common thing uncommonly well" in less demanding styles than to produce faux impressions of "the Old Masters."There's little point in hacking up expensive, exotic finish species unless one can really do them justice. "Historically accurate," well-done beautiful models finished with paint (and even faired with putty :D ) are far easier for the vast majority of us to create and enjoy while developing our craft skills painting Picassos until we get to the point where we can realistically attempt a Rembrandt. As Dirty Harry said, "A man's got to know his limitations."



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Hi Wahka,


You'll find that double planking is only done on some kits... probably more than I can think of.  This was done so that a novice builder could use the first planking to get the shape and second planking to make it look nice.  Also, many of the older kits just aren't that accurate to begin with.


So, use the wood you want for the second layer.  If you want to bash it some more, research and add to it to improve the accuracy.  But most important... enjoy yourself and the hobby.

"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)         



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