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What is "entry level" in the world of Wooden Ship Building? - moved by moderator

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So after much debate with myself, ultimately losing I decided to go out on a limb and throw this out to the masses.

 

I have seen many people ask here on the forums, and I personally have been asked by friends of mine, some variation of - what is a good entry level wooden ship?

 

When I worked in the hobby store, the answer was easy – not personally having built them myself I had to go by the marketing materials and the word of the ship builders who came through.    When I got into the hobby myself last spring I leveraged that information as well as the write ups of various ships to decide ultimately on the Phantom.

 

However, after building the phantom and now working on a few other models I find myself sometimes wondering myself, when that question is asked, what is a good starter ship model?

 

I had been debating on bringing this up here, just for general conversation as I don’t think there truly is a “correct” answer, but the opinions would be interesting I think.

 

Where I kind of found myself drifting towards is that there really isn’t an easy answer to that question.  After answering it to some degree in another thread earlier today I decided what the heck, let’s bring it up and see what sticks!

 

Here is where my thoughts on the matter tend to circulate.

 

In the plastic world you have a box of parts and those parts, with zero modification, create a rough model of the box art.  You can in some cases (snap together) create something with zero tools and zero experience.  You can, of course, get more expensive detailed kits but still in most cases the parts in the box will assemble as is to create what it is you are after.  The difficulty of plastic comes in when you start adding glue or when you decide to go for it and craft aftermarket parts etc. to add to the existing model. So there is a curve, but in many ways it is a voluntary one.

 

Wooden ship models are very much not the case.   You cannot (as far as I can tell) open a wooden ship kit and create a model of the ship on the box with the parts in the box as is.  It isn’t even an option.   I remember joking about it when I opened up that Phantom.  I was staring at a bunch of wood with a handful of prefabbed parts. 

 

So this is where my thinking that there really isn’t such a thing as “entry level” model ship kits.  By default, the model ship world starts you at advanced.   I have seen people marvel at scratch building, and oh my there are some incredible masters of it that scratch build from front to back and top to bottom :o.  However, I think some people do themselves an injustice in not believing that they themselves have scratch built something on their ship.   Whether it is a door way, a hatch, a wheel house or a mast; everything about model ship building is about taking one thing and making it into something else so as to fit the rest of the things to make a ship.

 

I think with wooden ships you start at advanced and go up from there.  I think when we talk about “difficulty” in wooden ships it isn’t so much what you have to do, but how much of it you have to do.  The skills come with the practice of what is done; learning how to plank properly, learning how to lay a deck, rig a mast, mount a cannon etc.  The difficulty and challenge is how much planking has to be done, how much detail is in place, how many lines have to be rigged and the pattern or how many tree nails have to be done, sails etc.

 

Please do not get me wrong, I am not in any way saying that everyone who builds wooden ships are at the same skill level, trust me I look at my work and then at others and it is painfully obvious I have a way to go. 

 

What I am suggesting is that newcomers to the hobby should not steer away from things because they are “advanced” looking or complicated because in reality whether it is a small boat like the phantom or a huge boat like the MS Constitution, you are using the same sets of skills and doing the same activities just more of it on one than on the other?

 

I can see the phantom being beginner due to quicker turnaround time, easier to “get one under the belt” maybe.  But after building the phantom and realizing it may be smaller but there was a lot more to it than what I expected.   The Harriet Lane, also listed as an entry level, seems to have a level of complexity that may initially shock someone who picked it up thinking entry level in a different way than the model ship world does.

 

I have done the Phantom (a solid hull) and worked on the hull of the Willie L Bennett (planked) and the Mayflower (planked) and I personally think planking was easier than the solid hull!

 

I truly hope I am getting this question out correctly,  as I have said I have debated it back and forth so many times in my head because I think it is a more complex answer than – This one or That one.

Now, this does not include built from plans type ship building, which is a whole different ball game.  

 

This is primarily in regards to kits.

 

Maybe a lot of this comes from what my expectations were of “Starter” versus advanced.  The Phantom was a challenge, again coming from the world of pre-formed parts.

 

Having only been at this just over a year just has me philosophizing over wooden ship building in general.   Looking at the builds and the people around here just got me to thinking; there really isn’t an entry level wooden ship builder. 

 

By default it is an advanced hobby.

 

Is the advancedness of  a particular model  in the kit? 
Or in the builder?
Or in both?

 

What do you guys think?  (And if you think I am just out of control, feel free to say so – I can take it; sometimes my mind goes weird places and the Admiral has to reel me back in)

 

Thanks for taking the time to indulge my random rambling.

 

Enjoy!!

-Adam

Edited by SkerryAmp

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Adam, I think you got the essence of it correct when you spoke of the question of how much as opposed to what is required for a model.  Planking techniques for a cutter are the same as for a ship-of-the-line, but the SOL has much more to do.  Same thing for masting, rigging, guns, etc.  Some of the skill levels mentioned on kit boxes are questionable, to say the least.  Model Shipways' Kate Cory, for example, is described on the box as an ideal first model.  Excuse me?  Kate Cory is square-rigged, coppered, has a ton of deck furniture, and includes four fiddly little whaleboats.  In my book, that's a challenge for any modeler, much less a beginner.  To me, the main point is, does a kit include enough elements to make success likely, i.e. detailed instructions, low parts count, pre-cut or pre-formed components, minimal tricky elements and such.  Based on those criteria, I have always held Midwest Products kits to be as near fool-proof as beginner's kits can be.  Fortunately, we live in an age where even more complex models can be tackled by beginners thanks to some manufacturers paying more attention to comprehensive instructions, newer design techniques, and of course, access to info at sites such as MSW.  But for anyone considering one of those newer designs, I would still advise along the lines of "less is more", as in "more likely to be completed".

 

Cheers,

Chris

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I agree with everyone here. 

 

Most important is good instructions. Hands down #1. As a side note, Chuck's Phantom instructions also emphasized that messing things up is part of the hobby, and it is okay. His whole model building philosophy, actually, seems spot on. Great for beginners, especially those that may have started over in plastic models. 

 

With a plastic model, if you totally screw up a part it can be a project killer. With a wood ship, it might be frustrating but making new parts is not bad at all. 

 

#2 is probably parts that fit together out of the box. 

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good instructions (which would include the basics on how to plank, rig and finish the model)  will make any kit do able (meaning the builder wil end up with an end product) but it depends on how much commitment he wants to put in. the skill level on a kit should explain what is required of the builder to complete it.

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I sometimes think the too easy "entry level" kits actually discourage builders. My first build was a solid-hull America's cup racer. I was able to do it with little more than a linolium knife and the smallest bits for my hand drill. It came out OK, but I had no real sense of accomplishment and wondered why I'd spent $50 on a cheap wooden kit..
A couple of years later I saw a library display on modeling with Frank Mastini's book prominently displayed. I picked up the book, read all about plank on bulkhead kits and soon had an itching to build another ship kit.
I read the Mastini book, which actually gives pretty good advice on picking a first kit. Based on his book, I chose the Constructo Enterprise, a fairly straight-foward schooner that's double-planked (which I agree with Mastini is a must for any first kit), but one that had lots of guns (something the little boy in me still demands).
Now I in no way, shape and form have any wood-working skills. And I was really intimidated when Christmas morning rolled around and my wife presented me with what I told friends was basically "a box of sticks."
But following the Mastini book (the Constructo instructions are terrible, although the ship plans are good) I was able to build a ship model that I was really proud of.
When my father-in-law (who is a marvelous woodworker) saw it and began talking that he'd like to try a kit, I went to Mastini and chose the Bluenose for him. I gave him that, some basic tools and a copy of Mastini for Christmas one year and now he has one ship under his belt and is working on a second.
So I guess what I am saying is that if I were to recommend an "entry level" kit, it would be something plank on frame that is double planked, relatively inexpensive and is either single- or double-masted. I would also insist that the new hobbyist get themselves a copy of Mastini, because I think good instructions and explanations of the concepts behind shipbuilding are key to a successful build.
I think what happens too often is that folks buy kits and either screw up very early due to things like fairing the frames being left out of the instructions, or get discouraged by bad instructions and give up.
If I had to do it over again, I'd probably build the MS Armed Virginia Sloop or Fair American as a first kit. I can't recommend the NIagara or Pride of Baltimore, as they seem to be single-plank on bulkhead, and I think the double plank is really a must for a first kit.But I do think Model Shipways instructions are so clear and do a good job of laying out the basic concepts of building that even their intermediate kits could easily be built by a beginner.

Edited by Stevinne

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Interesting topic and as Mark said, Adam and Chris covered most of that pretty well. The only thing I would add, is that for any wooden ship builder, the kit HAS to be of something the builder likes for whatever aesthetic reason. Regardless of the builder's skill level, mistakes will inevitably be made...the key is the perseverance to move on from the mistake. IF the ship really never interested the builder they are less likely to rebound from the mistake, or the difficulties and learning curves that also comes with ship building.

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Thank you all, great to hear the input and helps me wrap my head around it a bit better.  Definately helps to answer that question when asked :D

 

 

-Adam

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Two problems come to mind here.
The first is that you don't get to see how good the instructions are until you've bought and opened your box.
Secondly, the kit that's 'entry level' for someone who's spent many previous years making dollshouses or jewellery or chess pieces (or using a variety of woodworking tools in any way) might still be quite daunting to someone who has spent his or her life buying/selling futures, or laying bricks or programming computers.

Six months ago, with no previous experience of building wooden boat models, I had to decide what would be a decent 'entry level' kit for me.  I have a fair bit of hobby/DIY woodworking experience, and a pretty comprehensive set of macro woodworking tools, plus some miniature drill bits and some precision woodturning blades.  Oh, and having watched real boatbuilding in a local boatyard when I was in my early teens, I do have a pretty good idea of what's involved in planking and fitting out a wooden sailing vessel.

I decided that my first-ever kit had to be POB rather than solid hull.  The very thought of building a reasonably accurate and symmetrical solid hull was far more daunting than applying planks to a laser-cut keel+bulkheads structure.
It had to be inexpensive.  Not cheap (there is a difference!).  I was going to be learning with this build, but I was keen to end up with a model I'd be proud to have on display in my living room.
I do want sails.  I do want masts and rigging.  But I decided sails could wait until I'd gained a bit of experience.  Mast(s) and rigging yes, OK, but right now the simpler the better!

I chose the Artesania Latina 'Mare Nostrum'.  It worked for me as an 'entry level' kit.  It's POB, with no sails and a little bit of rigging (including kindergarten-level ratlines!).  I'm not saying this would be good for everyone, but it worked for me.
The instructions were OK, but it helped that I speak French and a bit of Spanish, so if something didn't make sense in English I could try one of the other languages!

I suppose what I'm saying is that 'entry level' depends as much on the person who's approaching the hobby of model boatbuilding, as it depends on the kit.

 

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I agree with the above.

 

If I had to summarize, I would say that an entry level wooden ship model kit should fulfill these caracteristics:

- be a subject that you really like: if your heart is not with it you'll never finish it or you'll do it laboriously, without pleasure,

- be rather small (say one or two masts, cutter or sloop, unless your soul cannot rest with something smaller than a three-decker! in wich case it's no use to buy a cutter!) so that each construction step is rather fast and you can feel that you are actually progressing: each milestone achieved gives you confidence wich is the main requirement to achieve a first build I think. This also allows to change of task quite often so that the build does not fall into monotony.

- have decent instructions: pictures of construction steps, mentioning ALL part numbers involved at each step, DETAILED part list and MULTIPLE plans is a minimum (to be able to say that the 'wathever it is that is called a stanchion' is actually part #30 and goes there... and that this long stick of brown wood that's 4x4x300 mm will be used to built the roof...)

- be at a rather large scale, mainly to simplify the rigging step: these tiny blocks can be a bit frightening...

- have a reasonably low price so that you can buy tools and books (unless you already have a well furnished workshop, that is) but not too low so that you have a box with good quality material in it.

- oh, and did I mention it? BE A MODEL YOU REALLY LIKE!

- and maybe... be a kit that has been built or is beeing built by a MSW member!

 

My first build possed all these qualities (except the last one) and it fulfilled its job: I'm in!

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I just recently completed the AL Swift(Older Version)fits most of the criterira for a first POB build except for the spotty instructions.I am given to believe that the newer version has been redesigned and has better instructions and includes sails!      004-5_zps8c719129.jpg

Edited by philo426

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While saying "I agree with everyone else" seems to contribute very little, well... I agree with everyone else.  I would add however a couple of small points.

First, I don't think I can overemphasize the need for the build to move quickly.  As a beginner I really had no concept of what I was creating.  I needed to see it develop. If the ship took a year to complete, I would have never had the vision to finish it.

 

Like Probablynot, my first boat was a POB and I would recommend them to a beginner, but like him I have a fair amount of wood working experience.  I can cut a straighter line with my tablesaw than I can with a razor and a straight edge.  (Unfortunately, I grew up where there was no water and except for fiberglass canoes, have never worked on or even seen any real boat/ship worked on.)

 

Second, access to a site like this plus the Internet plus books is, in my mind essential.  A good friend of mine confessed that he tried boats several years ago and turned two kits into kindling- because he never got past the planking.  I can't convince him to try again- he's that discouraged.  So a simple boat that you can find a build log on- that would, to me, be essential.

 

Finally, I think you have to find a simple boat that is interesting to you.  I build the Mare Nostrum and am working on the Swift.  The MS is a pretty piece of work, she has interesting lines and nice details.  Even though I understand that she is a simple boat, I proudly display her in my home.  On the Swift I am doing a lot of experimenting and technique refining.  Even so, I plan on presenting her to my brother as a wedding gift. 

 

After these two builds I plan a real ship- and I have two, so I'm thinking of setting up two work benches so I can switch from one to the other!

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Great discussion folks, and much appreciated!  hehe Mark I do like the idea of confidence levels (funny how the Midwest model was the one to shake mine though  :P  but the MS ones build them back up again!!)

 

I greatly appreciated this.

 

Thanks folks of MSW :10_1_10:

 

 

-Adam

Edited by SkerryAmp

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I see some have begun their hobby with solid hull.........to me,  I would think that they are much harder to build,  due to the way in which the hull is shaped.   my hat's off to you folks  :)   I also believe that the level system is a bit off.......to a person just starting out.....they ALL are equally daunting.   but,  to tell the truth,  I would recomend an advanced beginner's kit {billing's}, over some of their other kits.  gee,  I started my venture with what they considered,  an expert level kit,  and to be quite frank.......I couldn't tell the difference.  I agree with Mark, that Midwest has a pretty good kit......their instructions are very good.  for those who followed the build of the lobsie twins....you know the mistake I made,  and how quick it was to scratch out another boat using the plans they supplied.  but this exposes the other side of it all.

 

the builder:  the plans alone,  are enough to scare the bejebbers out of anyone.   this would be especially daunting for a person with no previous modeling experience.......but that's not to say that it can't be done.  you folks have covered it quite well......do you want this?  do you have even a speck of creativity?   if you do,  then your going in the right direction.   this hobby is so multi-facited....it is a mix of sculpting,  painting,  and wood working.....there's something in here for everybody.   you get out of it what you put into it.  it is said that one would need knowledge in general.......I think the willingness to learn is better though.......you'll get more out of it.

 

folks don't craft as much as they used to.......everything is bought in a store......someone elses concept of what they think would look good in your home.   some of it is butt-ugly.........displaying something you made yourself......is much better.

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I'd agree:  entry level would require less time than an intermediate/advanced.  It all depends on the level of detail you want to incorporate, and what you feel comfortable with.  One could build a Vic or Conny as a beginner, but the learning curve would be considerably steeper and would take longer (more chance of getting discouraged), or one could build an AVS, Sultana, etc., and produce a fine model in a fairly reasonable amount of time (and time itself is relative).  Then there's the ambitious, yet newbie such as myself, beginning with a Niagara (or Syren, etc.), where the learning curve is moderately steep, and it takes a good bit longer (in my case anyway), but where you learn the skills necessary for something more advanced later on.

 

But I would have to say that as a beginner, one should first view the various build logs here to get a sense of what wooden ship building requires, and use their own judgment as to what they could handle first off, then progress.  I'd rather start off simple/moderate challenge, than jump in with a 1st rate and get discouraged or frustrated, especially when one considers the cost of the kit and the time involved.

 

Just my 2 cents~~

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Very interesting discussion with a lot of great points being made which mostly I agree with.

 

I personally think that there are 3 main points for somebody who has never built a wooden ship model, start smaller as everybody will underestimate how long it will take and I think that is what discourages a lot of first time builders, not seeing any progress.

Second is to pick something you like, more chance that you will stay the course and finish it, warts and all.

Third is not to expect to build a museum class ship on your first attempt, there are a lot of skills to be learnt, planking and rigging mainly, there will be mistakes but try to learn from them and don't lose heart.

 

BTW my first ship model was an AL swift many years ago, the friend I gave it to still has it proudly displayed in her house.

 

Ben

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Great discussion, since I had to learn what "entry level" meant the hard way.  A few years ago, I bought the Mini Mamoli "Bluenose".  On sale, it was still well over $20.  I had never built wooden ships before, but I had done a lot of other types of models, plastic and mixed media. I opened the box, and the solid hull looked nothing like the shape of the Bluenose, there was a bundle of splintery wood and minimal instructions.  I could see if they had rough-formed hull and a nice plan with station views, but the options were either find research material on my own and modify the kit, or just pretend the included lump was actually the Bluenose.  Not what I had hoped for.  My next try was the Muscongus bay sloop by Midwest.  Under $20, clear instructions, simple and forgiving construction, quick and easy assembly.  Much better confidence builder. 

So, 2 manufacturers approaches to 'Entry level'.  One put me off wooden ships for a couple of years, the other gave me the courage to start messing with wood a lot more.   I think the simplified approach to POB that Midwest uses is a great confidence booster, and a nice gateway into "real" planking.

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Almost all of my thoughs are already included in previous other answers, so I will not repeat something that has been already said.

In anycase, if someone want to approach the wooden ships world for the first time, should start absolutely with simple small kits and with a lot of humbleness, since wood sometimes is not so a "smart material" to be managed.

The world is full (and ebay too!!) of big (and costly) ships started by newbies and never finished, due to their willingness collapsed in front of contructions problems never seen before.

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We seem to be back to String Theory (ie, how long is a piece of it).

I started modelling as long ago as 2013.  January to be exact.  I chose the relatively simple AL Mare Nostrum.

But ...

I've been working with wood for at least 64 of my 76 years, as a hobby and occasionally for cash.  I've canoed and sailed.  I've built two canoes, and I watched and helped my dad build a sailing dinghy when I was 13.  In my teens I spent hours in a local boatyard watching craftsmen planking yachts, and fitting them out.  I've got a workshop brimming with woodworking tools and equipment.

So I know boats.  I know woodworking.  I know sails, and rigging.  I've been to sea in the Bay of Biscay on a fishing boat.

Without all that experience, the Mare Nostrum would certainly have been a real challenge for me.  But I found it an easy build, and  sometimes I wish I had chosen a somewhat bigger, more complex kit as my first build.

 

We all have different backgrounds, knowledge, skills.  The perfect 'entry level' kit for one person would be chicken-feed for one person, and a daunting impossibility for another.

 

People have talked about 'entry level' and 'confidence level' as possibilities for grading kits.  If pushed, I would suggest 'complexity level' as a basis for grading kits, but even this would be a very hit-and-miss guide.

 

Beginners wanting advice are always welcome to post messages in MSW saying 'this is what I can do, this is what I want to build, can you please point me to a kit that might be right for me?'  Then the wiser members here could answer with advice based on genuine knowledge and experience.

 

 

 

 

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I don't think I can add anything new except my own unique blend of what has already been said.

 

This hobby is more challenging than others for most people so "entry level" does not mean quick or easy, just quicker and easier than other ship models. What makes a plastic model easy is that you don't have to have a clue what the final product looks like and yet you can still build it quickly, easily, and accurately; but with wood ship modeling you start with blocks of wood and remove everything that doesn't look like part of a ship. That's really challenging when you don't know what the parts should look like so you must rely on good plans or secondary sources such as books and MSW. Therefore I feel that the #1 criteria for an entry level kit is that it have excellent plans and directions.

 

Everything else boils down to personal opinion and taste and only helps to narrow the selection of the right entry level kit for that person. For example, some people such as myself prefer models with weaponry and a rich history so a fishing boat would be a real challenge to motivation and quality control. On the other hand, a newcomer cannot say if they would find a solid hull or POB easier so either will answer for an entry level kit and they can form their own opinion from there.

 

The MS Phantom on its own is not an entry level model by my definition because the directions are very lacking at times and often is no more than "Build the X, Y, and Z and glue them into place." What makes it a good entry model is Chuck's practicum.

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Apologies upfront for too many words - it's just that I wrote without much of a filter and things kept coming to mind.

This is such a wonderfully difficult question – right up there with, “What is the meaning of life?” However, it is easy to offer one’s views. So … here we go. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s responses and, like many contributors, I agree with most of what has been said. I think my three top criteria for the appropriateness of the label “entry level” to a kit are: instructions and plans that are clear, extensive and visually well supported (i.e. with lots of photos and drawings); a reasonable completion timeframe (2-to-4 months of model building in place of half of the 3-to-4 hours a day of TV?) ; and some aesthetic and/or emotional appeal in the particular ship. I definitely agree with those who mentioned the importance of at least some previous modelling experience (plastic kits, model railroads, dollhouses and miniature furniture, etc. – collecting die-cast cars doesn’t help much!) My first wooden ship kit (28 years ago, I think) was the Santa Maria (which I only know because we moved house last week and my wife discovered the old “plans”), which I abandoned (once I had split and broken enough bow planking holding it over a steaming kettle) and eventually threw out. About 5 years later I saw the AL Marie-Jeanne in a hobby store (where I was looking at plastic plane kits with my dad) and thought it looked cute, so I bought it. No problems building that kit – better instructions. Then I picked up a couple of kits on “special” – La Toulonnaise by Carta Augusto, and the Amati Bounty. My next build, however, was a scratch build from the plans for La Toulonnaise, but expanded by 35% and adapted to accommodate radio control. Took a year, drove my wife and kids crazy, but looked great on the water. Then family stuff and my other hobby – playing French-horn – kind of took over for about 10 years. Then I happened to be on the Internet browsing something about ships and I came across a reference to the Kate Cory. Well, my real name is Cory and my wife’s name is Kate, so getting back to model shipbuilding became a no-brainer. Even better … the Kate Cory is an “entry level” kit. Ha, freakin’ ha!! I agree with Chris’ comment on this claim. I planked the solid hull because I wanted it to look planked, but planking isn’t hard (and now of course I realize that adding planking to it violated the overall “scale” dimensions of the hull), but there is so much to do and so much detail (oars, paddles, harpoons, cutters, rope buckets, grapnel hooks, etc. and that’s just stuff for the whaleboats – each of them!!). And rigging is the greatest void in my knowledge. (Maybe add relatively simple rigging to my “entry level” criteria.) My personal opinion is that the Kate Cory should ABSOLUTELY NOT be billed as “entry level” – unless it is to be a baptism by fire and an initiation test: if you can get through the Kate Cory and produce a decent result then, congratulations, you can enter the world of model ship building! I have been “working” on the Kate Cory off and on (much of it off) for about 10 years; at this point there is “only the rigging” to go. However, I have more time available now and I expect to finish it by the end of summer. I am looking forward to retirement this fall and I have a cupboard of kits to learn from – starting with the MSW Bounty Launch and then the Amati Bounty (having had it in my cupboard for 20-plus years).

I think Brian’s comment that the modeller is as much a factor as the “level” of the kit is bang-on. Very important, I think, is having a perspective/mindset through which you can see progress and get a sense of accomplishment from the completion of small tasks. In completing a model ship, you haven’t completed one thing, you have completed maybe 4,000 things, many of which are visible and even impressive singly, let alone all together. In that way it is a fabulous hobby. Also, especially with a site like this, there is so much to learn. And so much to inspire (and sometimes intimidate!) – so many people who do this so well.

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Well you have to have a degree of mental toughness and willingness to see the project through to the end.Forums like this one are a tremendous help because most members have dealt with just about every problem one can encounter and can offer effective solutions.You also have to have the correct mind set;;nothing about wooden ship building is quick or easy but the results are well worth the effort!

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I agree  with Philo426 about mindset. I recall making plastic boats and planes as a kid and my attention span was extremely limited....I could never have contemplated a wooden kit build. I find now at the age of 58 that part of the fun of my first wooden build is in applying extreme patience and focus.

 

There is a certain masochistic pleasure in leaving the clamps on overnight so that first thing in the morning you can take them off and see that you have made one more step towards completion...as a kid I could NEVER do that.

 

I have read in this fantastic site that you should treat each step as a project in itself....in that way you are constantly having a sense of achievment - even over the tiniest detail such as carving the handle on an oar and realising, my goodness, that actually looks realistic !

 

So, what is entry level ? I have been very well served with the Midwest Boston Whitehall Tender with fantastic instructions for everything except the details of planking. I found wonderful information about planking in MSW but I couldnt apply it 100% to my situation. And that has been frustrating.

 

Now that I have almost finished I have discovered the Group Build Project and wish I had started with that....in fact I am thinking of buying the Longboat. What the beginner needs is the confidence that comes from watching his peers build the same boat and face the same challenges and share their ideas (and frustrations).Picking up amazing tips and suggestions and encouragement on the way

 

and isnt that what MSW is all about ?  If I had to build my boat in isolation I reckon I would have given up half way throught the planking !

 

thanks to you all !

Simon

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This topic has been moribund for over six months but let a noob stick his ten cents in.  Many years ago when I was living in England I got very interested in wooden warships having visited the Victory on several occasions and watching the raising of the Mary Rose.  A friend suggested building a model and I picked for my first kit the Corel Unicorn.  As someone here pointed out happens, I seriously underestimated the amount of time modeling with wood.  I ended up getting the hull completed with it's first planking but eventually spent less and less time on it.  Then when I moved back to the USI opted not to bring it with me (the hull had a serious banana curve in it and I didn't see myself finishing it.  A few years later, I tried a somewhat less large scale effort, the Model Shipways Bluenose.  This went well but I never could get myself very interested in the boat itself, still being more interested in fighting vessels.  The hull is complete (without a banana curve this time!) but again I lost interest even though this kit was coming along a lot faster than the Unicorn did.  Finally, of all the silly little things to do, I had received a bonus gift with the Bluenose of a Midwest kit for a Chesapeake 17 kayak.  With detailed instructions and very few parts, this went together quickly and beautifully.  While I had to deal with a lot of the same issues that I had with both the Unicorn and the Bluenose, I managed to get a finished product fairly quickly.  Now I am starting an Armed Virginia Sloop knowing that with patience I have the skills to manage this and get it done eventually.

 

The point of all this is that for me, I would recommend entry level based on the following, all of which have been mentioned above:

 

1) You gotta be interested in what you are building.

 

2) There is merit to the European kit builders use of "quantity" to define difficulty: a three masted line of battle ship is more difficult than a one masted sloop even if the skills needed are essentially the same as it will take a LOT longer to build the ship, time the beginner is typically not prepared for yet.

 

3) The plans and instructions need to be detailed enough so that the first time kit builder doesn't have to guess as to what to do.  Things slow to a crawl if you not only have to learn how to perform the basic tasks of working with wood but also have to figure out what task comes next.

 

4) The kit needs to be of a high enough quality that the newcomer doesn't have to fight the kit itself.  There should be enough material that the kit can be built albeit that most people will need some additional materials to fix errors.

 

Spence

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Spence,

 

You make some very good points.  Now when you get your kit, open a build log.  You'll get help to overcome any shortcomings in instructions.  Read any and all the logs you can as there's a lot of good information on MSW to help you finish your model and also to become a better builder. 

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Artesiana Virginia Pilot Boat 1805 was my first build. It's a great starter since it requires all the disciplines you'll need for more complex ships. You're getting so much advise here....how are you going to wade through all of it? Good luck.

Rich

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Artesiana Virginia Pilot Boat 1805 was my first build. It's a great starter since it requires all the disciplines you'll need for more complex ships. You're getting so much advise here....how are you going to wade through all of it? Good luck.

Rich

 

That is the fun part,  you don't wade through it - you dive right in and immerse yourself in the vast depths of knowledge around here :D

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