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Syren US Brig by NovaStorm - Model Shipways - 1:64

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Since I started this build back mid October the first post will be rather long as I try to bring you up to date... This will be my second build following MS Bluenose I which I really enjoyed putting together and finished last year.


  When the box arrived and I got around to opening it a couple of weeks later I was surprised to find the bulkheads and the bulkhead former were extremely warped. An email was dispatched to MS and a short time later new material arrived. This seems to be a rather prevalent problem with this kit. Sad really when you think about all the work that went into it's creation and how popular it has been. That aside I am really looking forward to slightly bashing the kit with the use of swiss pear for the decking and some other elements. Plus I will be replacing the badly cast kit cannon's and carronades, ships wheel and a few other features including the cast decorations which to me look unusable.





Here are the MS cast cannons and carronades against the plans, I will be using brass cannons from Caldercraft part# 85180A and part# 85818A for the carronades.


The little mermaid is actually not to bad cleaned up! The galley castings P&S are different sizes, I am going to attempt to make my own. The transom decor is probably pretty hard to cast at this size so I will attempt to make my own. This will be my first time carving so your guess is as good as mine... we will see!





































So lets begin with a bit of Syren History :) btw it appears the mermaid figurehead was added by the British

USS Syren (1803)

Courtesy Wikipedia, Published under creative commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/


United States

Name: USS Syren
Builder: Nathaniel Hutton
Cost: $32,522
Laid down: 1803
Launched: 6 August 1803
Commissioned: 1 September 1803
Renamed: Siren, 1809
Fate: Captured at sea, 12 July 1814
RN EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: Siren
Acquired: 12 July 1814 by capture
Commissioned: Not commissioned
Fate: Not listed after 1815

General characteristics

Type: Brig
Displacement: 240 long tons (244 t)
Tons burthen: 298 (bm)
Length: 94 ft 3 1⁄2 in (28.7 m) (overall); c,75 ft 0 in (22.9 m)
Beam: 27 ft 0 in (8.23 m)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Complement: 120 officers and enlisted
Armament: 16 × 24-pounder carronades

USS Syren (later Siren) was a brig of the United States Navy built at Philadelphia in 1803. She served during the First Barbary War and the War of 1812 until the Royal Navy captured her in 1814. The British never commissioned her but apparently used her for a year or so as a lazaretto, or a prison vessel. She then disappears from records.


Syren was designed by Benjamin Hutton, Jr. of Philadelphia and built for the Navy in 1803 at Philadelphia by shipwright Nathaniel Hutton and launched on 6 August 1803. She was commissioned in September and Lieutenant Charles Stewart was appointed in command.
She was sharper, but smaller than USS Argus (1803), yet carried the same armament. Both vessels were built the same year for the First Barbary War.

Service history in US Navy:

First Barbary War

Syren departed Philadelphia on 27 August 1803 and reached Gibraltar on 1 October. A fortnight later she sailed via Livorno to Algiers carrying presents and money to the Dey of Algiers. She then sailed to Syracuse, Sicily, where she arrived early in January 1804.
The first action Syren was involved in was an attack aimed at destroying USS Philadelphia, a frigate that had run aground the previous autumn and that Tripolitan gunboats had then captured. To prevent Philadelphia from opposing his planned operations against Tripoli, the commander of the American squadron in the Mediterranean, Commodore Edward Preble, decided to destroy her. To achieve this, Syren and ketch Intrepid sailed from Syracuse on 3 February 1804 and proceeded to Tripoli, which they reached on 7 February. However, before the American ships could launch their attack, they were driven off by a violent gale and did not get back off Tripoli until 16 February. Before the attack Syren tied up alongside Intrepid to transfer some of her crew for the assault on Philadelphia. Aboard Intrepid, under the command of Stephen Decatur, sailors from both Intrepid and Syren succeeded in burning Philadelphia. Also present during the assault was Thomas Macdonough of Syren.

Bombardment of Tripoli, 1804

Syren returned to Syracuse on the morning of 19 February. On 9 March, she and Nautilus sailed for Tripoli. Soon after their arrival, on 21 March 1804, she captured the armed brig Transfer belonging to the Pasha. Stewart took Transfer into US service and renamed her USS Scourge.[5] She then served in the American squadron. The very next day Syren captured a polacca named Madona Catapolcana and sent her to Malta. Operations in the Mediterranean during the spring and summer of 1804 and participated in the attacks on Tripoli in August and September 1804. The ship continued to support the squadron's operation against Tripoli which forced the Pasha to accede to American demands. After a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed on 10 June 1805, the brig remained in the Mediterranean commanded by Master Commandant John Smith for almost a year helping to establish and maintain satisfactory relations with other Barbary states.
The ship returned to America in May 1806 and reached the Washington Navy Yard in August. She was laid up in ordinary there until recommissioned in 1807 and subsequently carried dispatches to France in 1809. In 1809, her sailing master at the Norfolk Navy Yard was Captain John "Mad Jack" Percival. The following year, her name was changed to Siren.

War of 1812

Little record has been found of the brig's service during the War of 1812, however small news items appeared in the Salem Gazette and the Boston Gazette.

In May 1813 it was reported that within the space of two days a merchant vessel, Pilgrim, was boarded, first by HMS Herald which was searching for Syren, and then by Syren, which was searching for Herald. Syren was now commanded by Lieutenant Joseph Bainbridge. The following month Syren left Belize and proceeded to Cuba where after three weeks searching for a Royal Navy sloop, probably Herald, she sailed for the coast of Florida putting in at New Orleans before departing on 9 May 1813. No prizes were taken during this voyage and the ship needed repairs.
By January 1814 Syren was in Massachusetts and was now commanded by Lieutenant Parker, In February she sailed along with a privateer, Grand Turk. Not long after sailing Parker died and command transferred to Lieutenant N.J. Nicholson.
Syren captured at least three merchant ships off the coast of Africa. On 28 May she captured and burnt Barton, Hassler, master, which had been sailing from Africa to Liverpool. Then on 1 June Syren captured Adventure, which too was from Africa to Liverpool. She took-off their cargoes of ivory and sank them. Lastly, at some point Syren captured Catherine.
On 12 July 1814 Syren while cruising off the West African coast encountered the British ship HMS Medway a 74-gun third rate ship of the line under the command of Captain Augustus Brine. Heavily outgunned, Syren attempted to run. After an 11-hour chase Medway captured her despite Syren having lightened her load by throwing overboard her guns, anchors and boats. During her last voyage she had captured or sunk several British merchantmen. Among the prisoners was Samuel Leech, who later wrote an account of his experiences.
According to Samuel Leech, after being captured the crew of Syren were taken to the Cape of Good Hope, and after landing at Simonstown, marched to a jail in Cape Town. Here they were held until transferred to England when the war was over. On arriving at Simonstown, other American prisoners were seen to be leaving the jail and being shipped off to Dartmoor. The Syren crew met these again in England while waiting for transfer to the United States. Some had been present at 'The Massacre'.

British service history:

After the capture by Royal Navy she had a figurehead of mermaid installed.
The Royal Navy used her as a lazaretto. She is no longer listed after 1815.



So lets start things rolling, Below: gluing what will become the rabbet strip between the keel and the bearding line.


After cutting and sanding the bearding line into the bulkhead former the stem knee is sanded (tapered) in order to facilitate the mermaid figure head. Then the stem knee is glued into position on the rabbet strip.


Next the keel is glued on. The slight step where the stem knee meets the keel is where the false keel will go running to the stern. Seems to be a little controversy as to weather the false keel is copper plated or left natural wood. As it is designed to come off if the ship should run aground I plan on the un-coppered look which is what it calls for in chucks instructions. IMG_2114a.jpg.7da668849ec26e09353b8fc3b428bf53.jpg

Now I test fitted the bulkheads onto the BF (Bulkhead Former) after sanding out the char. Followed this by ruffing out the bulkhead bevels. Nice to now get a first look at the form of the ship


One area in the instructions that made me cringe (sorry Chuck) is in Chapter 12. for setting the masts. They want you to take a electric drill and drill out the mast holes down through your deck and into the plywood. By this point the ship is half done including the copper plating etc. The main mast has quite a rake to it and the fore mast is almost perpendicular. This step has given people nightmares lol. So I wondered why they didn't just notch out the plywood with the laser like on the bluenose. I searched for a reason and couldn't find one so I went ahead and did it myself.
It is so easy to do. Using Sheet#1 of the plans, lay out your BF with the stem knee and keel glued on but nothing else
Line it up on the sheet and you can draw the mast lines and angles right onto the BF. Now you just cut out your notch and glue two sandwich boards one each side to make a mortise. When it comes time to set the masts all I've got to do is file two side of the mast base to form a tenon that will fit right in and have my mast all set at the approximate degree required. Doing it this way I should be able to get away with not gluing the masts in also. In the instructions they glue the masts in. Here's hoping anyway!
Pick showing what I did:



Now with the mast notches cut. I cut plywood to make the sandwich. Before gluing any of this together I faired up the bulkheads a bit better using a guide plank and glued them in using a square to keep everything in line.
A few pics below:




Next, I've blocked in the BH's and BF to stiffen every thing. Don't laugh at my blocking I had it nice and neat then realized I had no room for sanding and filing in the later work along the bulwarks. So I grabbed the axe and knocked it all back


Then came the exciting part as I got to use some pear to fill in the platform (decking) that will be just visible through the galley door. I pulled out and used the least nicest pear ends for this since it will barely be visible. Followed with a coat of Lee Valley tung oil. I also painted the background black to mask it. Then I installed the bow filler and began checking the inner fairing on the bulwarks. A few pics...





Thats all for tonight folks, will add more sooon, be safe out there! Regards, Robin aka Nova ~~~



Edited by NovaStorm
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Sorry double post with the last two pics above, still a newbie at this 🤪


So with the first two chapters in the instructions completed, I now I checked the bulkhead placement using the provided template, go figure spot on!


 Batten's where now used to try and get the gun port sill line with a nice natural flow bow to stern.


Happy with the sill line it is marked off on the bulwarks. The sills were produced and glued in on both sides.  This was followed by doing up the lintels. Without making up a carronade to check in the opening I won't know for sure but I think I am almost spot on with where I should be.
For doing the lintels and side frames I made a little jig for a spacer. You could probably come up with a better jig then I did...



With sills and lintels complete the included template was cut up and placed between the sill n lintel, this allowed me to mark off the gun port side frames which then got installed.


With the gun port side frames installed I made up a sander which works great for fairing a variety of things. It conforms to the surface of what you are fairing ~


Kinda looks like a violin bow!


With the gun ports out of the way the sweep ports and filler blocks where added

as per the instructions.


Ummm I might have a possible problem! I put a copy off the deck layout plan onto the bh's to check gun port relationship to the carronades. But the one gun on the far right seems to be off by quite a piece. If I check my framing with the overhead plan it seems correct. If I measure the distance between the gun port centers and the sweep port they are the same. Strange I had to ponder this a bit  🤨


The top and side view plans were carefully scanned and measured as comparison and it turned out the one plan was out by the exact same amount! Phew!!! Chapter 3 down. Next!


to be continued ;)


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SYREN is my next project.   Mind if I follow along?   Looks great so far.  

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Well with chapter 3 in the instruction book out of the way I dove into the chapter 4. Stern Framing. It seems it doesn't seem to matter how many times I read something I still manage to miss the odd detail. In this case it was to have a slight curve when viewed from above to the stern framing. Well my curve is very slight. Looking at a few other logs I suspect this will still be workable and that I am not the only one. At any rate I started out great but decided not to follow the instructions initially, since we all have our own way of wanting to achieve the end goal. So instead of doing the first steps on ship I decided to start off ship where I could get things squared up easily.

First pic showing the first two frames marked (A) being assembled and squared off ship.


The assembled piece fits snugly into a slot off of bulkhead 26 at the sternHappy with the result it is glued in place.IMG_2422a.thumb.jpg.10136a8365441547056c5eb994e56bd0.jpg

Happy with the result Frames A are glued in place, followed by frames B and C before the filler blocks are added to complete the stern framing.

A few pics:




Once all the frames and fillers are in place, I checked the gun ports for positioning, then marked up the outer frames in line with the bulwarks and cut out the excess material.


Now I put a bit of time into cleaning up and sanding what I've done to date, before delving into the next chapter (chapter 5) where we actually start planking the hull. :)
First I took a wood filler and filled any area's around the gun and sweep ports that needed tidying up. This was followed by adding four filler pieces at the stern under the counter that the hull planks will run to. These fillers have to be shaped carefully so I decided to tack glue one side on and shape it in position. Then I took it off and ruffed out the other side to match it before gluing both sides on permanently. Worked well although I will still be running some more batten tests and tweaking some more. Not having done a hull of this type before would mean taking my time and hopefully not screwing up!
With that I took out the paint and put two coats around the gun and sweep ports.


So it was time to start planking beginning with the upper wale. I was following the instruc's to get the lip (lid stops) around the gun ports but I can see how this might well affect the sheer line of the strakes. So I wasn't real keen on the stacked lumber effect by just stacking planks between the ports. I decided to try gluing on the next plank full length and then cutting out  around the ports. Now more worried about wrecking the painted port openings than anything. But if I could get good results I would have a way to move forward.

First pic of my little plank bending facility followed by gluing on the planks full length and then cutting out around the ports on ship. Yes I switched back to Chucks method in the instructions for the port side as there is to much room for error when cutting out the ports this way. If I had it to do over I would have framed it differently and used filler strips for the lid stops on the ports. That would allow you to get a really clean look and maintain the shear. Remember it is my second build lol your probably saying what a newb about now.



Phew that was not easy and a lot of hard work, so as mentioned I switched back to the instructions for round II ~



And so I completed the planking to the upper wale, or so I thought. NOT!

Yes it gets even better errr worse! I planked in the port side only to find when I installed the top 7th plank above the wale it was about 3/4 of a plank width higher on the port than starboard side at the stern transom. I was really not sure how this had happened I followed the measure once cut twice er I mean measure twice cut once rule, unless a clamp had shifted but there it was. So again I had to ponder this situation and make a decision on exactly how to proceed or should I just stick what I had on the closet shelve and let it sit for a year. After much consideration I decided there was only one solution! Tear it apart! and that is what I did  🤕 Texas chainsaw massacre anyone.


To be continued...


Edited by NovaStorm
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If you edit your post then delete the offending photos from the attachment inventory at the bottom they should go away.   If you delete them from the post alone they will continue to pop up.   

Otherwise your progressing right along, looks great!

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19 minutes ago, Justin P. said:



If you edit your post then delete the offending photos from the attachment inventory at the bottom they should go away.   If you delete them from the post alone they will continue to pop up.   

Otherwise your progressing right along, looks great!

Ahhh thank you I will. lol progressing eh I thought I was regressing ;)

It worked much appreciated Justin.

Edited by NovaStorm
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So of coarse in the process of the solution I broke a bulwark off the last bulkhead at the stern so had to fix that before the clean up!


Luckily I managed to get everything cleaned up and back together. I found it was easier then I thought it would be and after i finished putting the planking back on everything was perfect. In fact I redid the planking using my original marks so I can only assume a clamp moved and I stupidly didn't notice. Here it is redone and cleaned up.


With the planking above the upper wales complete it was time to begin a hull planking plan. This was all done according to the instructions and the best advise I can give would be to watch carefully the placement of the garboard plank do not get it to far forward or you will have to play catch up as I did on mine. But all in all it went fairly well. I actually enjoy planking. 

Once the wales is planked we started up with the garboard plank to completion. A few pics.




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Nice work so far! Can I ask where you got those nifty little brass bar clamps?

     Current:         Emma C. Berry Lobster Smack-Model Shipways-1:32-1866

        Back on the shelf:    USS Essex- MS- "Old Yellow Box" Solid Hull  Wall Hanger (Half Hull)                                                                                                                                                                                              

   Completed:    18th Century Armed Longboat-MS 1/24

                          USN Picket Boat-MS 1864 1/24                                  

                          US Brig Syren by Sea Hoss- Model Shipways-1803

                          18th Century Carronade/Ship Section

                          Mayflower-Pilgrims Pride by Sea Hoss-Model Shipways-1620

                          18th Century Long Boat by Sea Hoss-Model Shipways

                          USS Constitution by Sea Hoss-Revel-Plastic

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Adventure continues as my next real step would be treenails to the hull area (waist) above the wales. Having never done treenails before I did a bit of testing and really couldn't get the hang of Chucks method using wood filler. So in the end I settled on toothpics! So after drill, drill and more drilling!!! I completed the tree nailing port and starboard. Then I test fitted the transom planking prefab I did up. Since I had decided not to follow the instructions on the transom, as I liked the planking better (see Thomas Gahm build) because imo the kit lazer cut pieces for the transom looked to much like plywood. 

A few pics:



My treenails came out a little large, so I made a note to do more testing before it was time to do the deck planking.

With the treenails completed on the hull the transom planking was installed and sanded with the inner layer of fashion pieces added on to the side frames. Now I set about adding on the second layer of planking to the wales as well as the sheer strake. All were black before installing. From there I was able to stain the hull above the wales with the antique maple stain I chose.



Now came the time to put on the antique maple stain above the wales. Mark off the water line and black paint any remaining area's where required. I also fit and painted the transom boarder ready to go and cleaned up any area's of the hull as best I could.


...  :)


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Man, you are either backdating these posts or you are not sleeping and have a team working in shifts!  That plank job looks great. 

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6 hours ago, Justin P. said:

Man, you are either backdating these posts or you are not sleeping and have a team working in shifts!  That plank job looks great. 

ssshhh not to loud Justin the elves will hear you and want another raise. Actually I started the build back mid October eventually I will get caught up to where I am with the ship  :)  I hesitated putting it up here because there were so many Syren logs already. Thanks for commenting I really enjoy the planking process it goes hand in hand with wine, beer and binge watching Netflix ~ Cheers

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I was now at the point were I have lots to ponder. I've added the arch and trim to the transom. In the instructions the arch was left natural but after seeing Dirks Syen I knew any decoration put on top of that black would really go bling. I planked the transom inboard and painted it red. Spent a considerable amount of time attempting to bend the rail that will go over top of the transom. After five try`s at soaking and bending I got a couple cap rails that were acceptable ( not easy at 1/16 thick)  Then I decided to put off gluing them on as there are two davits which get cut into the transom and cap rail. This meant I might add the cap in three pieces. Making it easier to clamp and glue on, yes, no, maybe we will see...

So instead I planked the BS's inboard and painted them red, then cut out the port and starboard rails to go onto the top of the stanchions but decided I'd install them after the deck got planked. Oh yes the pics ~


Hope you can appreciate those color coordinated clamps ;) 






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Wonderful Work Going On Here !  Loved the unusual (reverse) use of Cloths Pegs to keep the planking tight, clever stuff ..  Had to laugh at Justins comment too (was just thinking the same thing myself, your speed was putting us all to shame) 😖 😖 


All The Very Best



Current Build   :  HM Schooner Ballahoo

In the Pipeline :  HM Cutter Sherbourne, HM Mortar Convulsion, Emma C Berry & C18th English Longboat.. Eventually That Is..🙄

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6 hours ago, egkb said:

Wonderful Work Going On Here !  Loved the unusual (reverse) use of Cloths Pegs to keep the planking tight, clever stuff ..  Had to laugh at Justins comment too (was just thinking the same thing myself, your speed was putting us all to shame) 😖 😖 


All The Very Best



Thanks for the kind words Eamonn they are very much appreciated :) We all need a little humor to what with all that is going on in the world. Cheers ~


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Ok now where were we, ah yes, sanded in the inner planking and painted again. I thought it looked to ridged between the planks. Having given it that look on purpose but now decided it just didn't look right. Worked on the rail which I now had cut out. Also started to form the forward margin planks for the deck. Did I mention the deck and margin planks would be done in swiss pear (insert happy dance)  :dancetl6: Another first for me and especially exciting because it is hard as hens teeth to find in Canada. 


Phew cutting swiss pear with a #11 ain't my idea of fun. Add to shopping list micro jewelers saw. But until then I got through it ok and managed to complete both fore and aft margin planks while following Dirk's outstanding example of a Syren deck using swiss pear. It was time to begin planking the deck. I took my time doing the decking was careful and found the pear excellent to work with. 



Edited by NovaStorm
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I just discovered your build log and it's fantastic with great photos also! Superior craftsmanship too!

Bob Garcia

"Measure once, cuss twice!"


Current Builds: 

Hms Brig-Sloop Flirt 1782 - Vanguard Models

Pen Duick - Artesania Latina 1:28


Completed: Medway Longboat 1742 - Syren Ship Model Co. 

Member of the Nautical Research Guild




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That deck planking is fantastic.   Well done.  Enjoying this log immensely. 


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Fabulous decking and I will now go back and catch up on the log upto the decking. I'm looking forward to seeing how you've done Syren from the start. Thanks for posting.


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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Thanks for the great comments :) Glad to see you are enjoying the build!


I was so pleased with how the decking had come out. Yet I hadn't even added the tree nails. For some reason I decided to finish up the cap rail bow to stern before treenailing. I know Chuck was showing it like that in the instructions. So with the cap rails installed it was drill, drill, and drill some more. 957 holes later ;)  X10, I began  the process of gluing in the tooth pics. Don't get your glue to thick! Makes life easier. It seemed an endless job but I can highly recommend the series Shameless to get you through it. Worked for me anyway.

A few pics ~

IMG_3324a.thumb.jpg.3b83740a3122ce9c16ceff572f22cd2c.jpgIMG_3327a.thumb.jpg.ca1df2b5aa94ef881862b4aa5dd1ca23.jpgIMG_3335a.thumb.jpg.1e6e0dd6df2d1029a95e7d51da649f2f.jpgIMG_3356a.thumb.jpg.e01dcdc5c2d04d36f95dd6e04bba0184.jpgIMG_3357a.thumb.jpg.7b9ad3574e01ec7993b2edac38242327.jpgIMG_3370a.thumb.jpg.5f457f3982256922d7d4bd4769da482e.jpg  IMG_3380.thumb.jpg.1d64b72dc9fb945e7f7a6b0cea8e9baa.jpgIMG_3383a.thumb.jpg.166c82081cb67b4b5f2ff30c52b19876.jpg


With the treenails all in, the whole deck was given a sand ending with 600 grit. The waterways were added next. I couldn't wait to pool a layer of tung oil all over the pear. When I did it was amazing. A good OL friend had offered me this pearwood cut to size. He cut it all to the sizes I gave him and when it arrived I couldn't believe how accurate it was. I mean perfect. It was so easy to work with I'm gonna hate to go back. Anyway hope you like it also. 

Cheers ~






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7 hours ago, BobG said:


Thank you Bob :) and thank you all for the likes I've received.


My next step copper plating. I was nervous as to weather I was going to be able to do a good job, having never done it before. For the most part I followed the instructions. I made up the jig for imprinting the nail pattern in the copper plates, but the slats or channels that keep the copper strip straight and in line I did not glue down onto a board!

I found during the first trials that having a poster board thick piece of cardboard under the copper instead of a hardwood surface gave me much better impressions.
In the first pic, I took the port & starboard scale copy of the drill or nail hole pattern from the plans and glued it onto a 1/4 wide piece of good hardwood. I drilled just enough so I could still hammer in brass nails partway to act as pins for making the impression. The heads of the nails were cut off and pins filed even and flat across the top.



I just used a block of wood to press down on top of the pin block and form the impressions. I had two rolls of the copper tape in my kit. One roll more than did the whole hull port and starboard. So there is room for both error or to redo if you aren't happy with the way it is going. I didn't know this at the time so was being really careful not to waste any tape if possible.

The worked strips were cut up plate size and it was time to start applying. It is important how you start your strips off the base of the keel, coupled with how much overlap you use per row to come out nicely at the waterline level below the wales. So keeping that in mind I proceeded along laying down the plates from the keel up.

I used a little block of balsa wood to flatten and burnish the plates as I went. Do a section or area and then burnish it in. Burnishing changes the impressions and makes them look more like nail heads. 

I pre-painted the hull below the water line with white primer to seal the wood and give the glue side of the tape something to stick to. 

Put on Shameless and Were having a parrrty...


Phew ...!


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