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Hi everyone.  Long time modeler but first time wooden ship builder here.  I have waited patiently to finish two projects - IJN Yamato and USS New Jersey, both in 1/350 scale - before starting this kit.  Now they are done it is time to start on Syren.  I can't hope to match the beautiful renditions of Syren created by others here, but I do hope to learn from them.

 

By way of background, I have been making plastic models from kits for the past 10-12 years.  I started with 1/35 scale armor, dabbled in 1/48 scale aircraft, and then gravitated to 1/350 scale ships.  Along the way I acquired a huge assortment of tools and paints, and developed an almost masochistic degree of patience.  IJN Yamato and USS New Jersey both took me two years or more to complete - and I suspect Syren will take longer - so patience will be a requirement.

 

I'm sure many of you are thinking, "Oh no, another first time builder who has bitten off more than he can chew."  Possibly - we'll see - but there zero chance I will walk away from this build or the hobby in general.  True to form, I will work slowly, watch carefully what better builders have done, and ask a lot of questions.  At the end of the day, I'm not afraid to screw this up and that relieves any sense of pressure.  There WILL be a ship that comes of out all my efforts ... the only question is whether it resembles the real thing.  😝

 

As true "negatives," I have no experience working with wood, and I wouldn't consider myself handy in a real world sense.  I'm not the guy who whips together a treehouse for the kids in a weekend.  And scratch building is something I have avoided in the past.  Finally, I suspect I will be diverted initially gathering tools and supplies ... things like rubber bands, binder clips, clamps, balsa wood blocks, etc. that I haven't needed in the past.

 

At any rate, here I go.  Since I don't have much to share at this point, I added some pictures below of my workspace, my first steps, and my previous projects.

 

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Thank you all for helping me push this thing out to sea.  Patrick and WalrusGuy (should I call you that?), I've been eagerly catching up on both your builds.  Really nice work, and motivational to see what can emerge from the pile of wood on my table.

 

One question for the group - should I try to find a long, flat plastic container for the wood?  I wouldn't characterize the basement where I am working as overly damp, but still I wonder whether the wood will warp over time.

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2 hours ago, Bill Gormley said:

should I call you that?

Sure! 🙂

2 hours ago, Bill Gormley said:

should I try to find a long, flat plastic container for the wood?  

Hmm I'm not too sure about this, but it wouldn't hurt finding something.. I have my wood stored in a closet just in the box it came with, but I don't think it's damp at all. 

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Thanks for all the input so far.  I have managed to attach the rabbet strip, carve the rabbet, taper the stem knee, test fit the figurehead, and glue and clamp the stem knee to the bulkhead former.  It took quite a while to taper the stem knee and get the figurehead to fit but I have thoroughly enjoyed the work thus far.  

 

Below are a few progress photos with circles where I have questions.  Hopefully they post in order ...

 

Q1 - A lot of build logs show an orange color or substance where I have circled.  Any idea what that is?  Also, should the bearding line still be visible once I have carved the rabbet?  The picture doesn't show it well, but there is a smooth taper from the bearding line down to the rabbet.    

Q2 - Is this area going to pose a problem?  The wood just snapped when I tried to work it.

Q3 - Same question, different area.  Toward the top of the circle the wood chipped and toward the bottom it came away.

Q4 - Should I have sanded off the dark outer edge of the stem knee?

Q5 - General question.  I'm working in a basement with little in the way of ventilation.  Should I be concerned about sawdust build up?

 

 

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32 minutes ago, Bill Gormley said:

Q1 - A lot of build logs show an orange color or substance where I have circled. That could be some glue residue which was burned by the laser.  Not certain.  Any idea what that is?  Also, should the bearding line still be visible once I have carved the rabbet?  It's fine, as long as you've tapered evenly from the bearding line to the edge of the bulkhead former where the keel is.  The picture doesn't show it well, but there is a smooth taper from the bearding line down to the rabbet.    Awesome!

Q2 - Is this area going to pose a problem?  Shouldn't.  The wood just snapped when I tried to work it. Be careful.  Wood is forgiving, but that section once tapered is very thin.  Once you glue in the rabbet and the keel/stem, the surface area there needs to support a lot of manipulation (planking).  I'd err of the side of caution and glue the snot out of the rabbet and keel/stem using strong carpenter's.  See my BLOG...my stem started to come loose.  😖 

Q3 - Same question, different area.  Toward the top of the circle the wood chipped and toward the bottom it came away. Same answer...just be careful.  But provided there is still plenty of surface, and the curavture hasn't been compromised, I'd push forward.  If it was a large section, I'm not certain whether wood filler would be appropriate or not...probably so.  But the break away is from the wood+laser combination.  I requested replacement parts from Shipways due to warpage, I'm sure you could do the same.  They were very responsive.

Q4 - Should I have sanded off the dark outer edge of the stem knee? Don't have to.  It's going to be painted anyway.  But sanding will take away some of the roughness of the laser cut edge before painting.  

Q5 - General question.  I'm working in a basement with little in the way of ventilation.  Should I be concerned about sawdust build up? I have the same problem.  Get ready for the dust storm of the century!  And I still have 2/3 of my sanding left to do!  I use a dust mask and goggles, and use a coarse sanding pad/paper/sticks where I can.  It's the fine stuff (aka Dremel sanding) which can be really irritating especially to your eyes.  If you have any fine sanding like that, or solvent work - try to ventilate.  You could invest in a fume hood (cheaply made) and set up an exhaust go outside.

Howdy, Bill.  See my 2 cent answers.  Nice to watch your BLOG!

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Thanks for the clear responses, Patrick!  I'm going to have many more to come, I'm sure.

 

Below a few progress photos.  Apologies for the poor quality ... I should have changed the lens.

 

Q1 - I'm at the point where I need to bevel the bulkheads.  The instructions say to bevel the outer edge almost but not exactly to the dashed line.  I'm clear on that.  They also say to bevel the inside of the bulkhead and to keep the angle consistent.  Can I confirm the red arrow is pointing to the correct area to bevel (with the blue dots highlighting the other three corners)?  Also, is it fair to say that when I'm done - viewed from the top down - the bulwark frame should be a parallelogram?

Q2 - Is the solid black line I'm pointing a bevel line similar to the dotted line circled with Q1?

Q3 - I was going to create a building board.  Is there a simple example someone can point me to?  The simpler the better in my case.  😝

 

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On 7/6/2020 at 3:32 PM, Bill Gormley said:

eneral question.  I'm working in a basement with little in the way of ventilation.  Should I be concerned about sawdust build up?

There will be lots of sawdust. A mask is one essential but so is ventilation. If it isn't there naturally consider the purchase of an air filtration system. Mind is from Rabbit Air and about $400, but there are much cheaper options. Since you're in a basement something like this link would work: Wen

 

4 hours ago, Bill Gormley said:

I'm at the point where I need to bevel the bulkheads.  

This is the most critical and important thing you're going to do - do it right and planking is easy, do it terribly wrong and you may end up tossing the model and starting over.  Its not beveling in this case its Fairing the frame.  I'd worry less about lines than having a smooth run from bow to stern and keeping the hull symmetrical by fairing both sides the same. You should be able to run a batten (a light, narrow, thin strip you can easily hold up to the side).  You will see this done on almost every build log on this site, you can see it in my Cheerful build, another Chuck Passaro design. You should research some of the other Syren, Cheerful or Winnie build logs for examples. Bottom line is the smooth run of the batten - you can maintain the back edge Of the bulkheads (from bow to mid-ships) and front edge (stern to mid-ships) to make sure you keep the symmetry - most of the rest of it should show no laser char.  As this is a Chuck design I'm sure those lines will prove helpful - but still look at other logs.

 

My main suggestion is to search this site for other Syren builds and select some that you find especially well done. Let them serve as your guides. I consult three other Cheerful build logs, ones competed years ago, that I look at before taking the next step with my own build. In fact my goal in my log is to leave one future builders will find helpful. You only need to read the entries for the step you're on or is up next.

4 hours ago, Bill Gormley said:

I was going to create a building board.  Is there a simple example someone can point me to?

My first build board was a 1x6 board with shoe molding and 1x1s set the width of the keel that held the ship upright. Now I use and Amati stand for the most part, but still use the function specific ones I build for particular stages. Here again research build logs will give you all the visuals you need to make your own - but the Amati stand is pretty popular and available from various hobby sites. It just has to hold the ship, many models come with a cradle, which also works fine. 

 

To summarize - there is no better teaching tool than the build logs that have gone before you - there are likely dozens of Syren logs on this site, its a popular kit.

 

Have fun. Remember the modeler's creed Adapt, Improvise, Overcome - (thanks Clint Eastwood) there will be problems and hurdles, the fun of this is figuring a way through them.

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On 7/12/2020 at 5:34 PM, Bill Gormley said:

Q1 - I'm at the point where I need to bevel the bulkheads.  The instructions say to bevel the outer edge almost but not exactly to the dashed line.  I'm clear on that.  The idea is to use the marks as a guide, but not the rule.  If you bevel all the way to the dotted line, you sort of remove your 'wiggle room' for final fairing.  The lines are there to help make the fairing a bit easier, and prevent you from over carving.  They also say to bevel the inside of the bulkhead and to keep the angle consistent.  Can I confirm the red arrow is pointing to the correct area to bevel (with the blue dots highlighting the other three corners)?  Also, is it fair to say that when I'm done - viewed from the top down - the bulwark frame should be a parallelogram? Yes.  The inner and out sides of the bulkhead horns will support planking...and they will be at the same angle...so should be parallel to each other.  

Q2 - Is the solid black line I'm pointing a bevel line similar to the dotted line circled with Q1? Yes, I believe so.  

Q3 - I was going to create a building board.  Is there a simple example someone can point me to?  Look at my log or any other logs for the Syren.  The first one you would like is one which will 'hold up' your bulkhead former (centerpiece) while you due your fairing/ports and lintels/etc.  I'd just take some spare 1/4" plywood and glue/screw on two boards that will hold your keel (without any room).  You can add some additional block to these to support the frame a bit more to provide stability and keep you from move any lateral stress on the glued on keel.   The simpler the better in my case.  😝

 

Enjoy!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Well, it's been over a month since my last update ... I knew this would be slow going but I'm surprising even myself.  It's been great fun so far and that's the point, right?  I've been pleasantly surprised by how forgiving wood is as a working material.  Sanding can get tedious but I like how much control you have if you take your time.  Working with brass and photo etched parts and super glue in the plastic model world could get nerve wracking.  

 

Anyway, just a couple progress photos below.  Major progress points are that I have created a basic building board, faired the bulkheads, and added blocks to strengthen the hull.  Sanding the blocks to get the right fit took FOREVER so either I need to get more accurate with my measurements or I need to invest in a Dremel tool (or maybe both).  

 

One question as I look to finish out chapter two.  The instructions suggest using a pencil to recreate the caulking between the planks of the lower level deck.  What is the order of operations here?  Cut, add, and stain the planks then run a pencil along gaps where the planks meet?  Or is it run a pencil along the edge of each plank, add them to the model, and then stain everything?

 

 

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6 hours ago, Bill Gormley said:

What is the order of operations here?  Cut, add, and stain the planks then run a pencil along gaps where the planks meet?  Or is it run a pencil along the edge of each plank, add them to the model, and then stain everything?

Loving the photos! I also remember sanding took me ages to do, especially doing it by hand..

 

For the caulking I just ran an HB pencil along the edges of each plank then gluing to the model. You can try different graphite scales, I've been reading 2B also works well. Maybe do a test section to see which one you like? 

 

After they are glued, make sure to sand them so they are nice and level with all the planks. Then use a fine sandpaper to make it smooth. Then stain. The caulking will show this way even though the pencil mark is on the edges. For staining I used tung oil on my model. 

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One other thing. Glue. Any glue...PVA (water based) or CA can penetrate the pores in the wood which the stain absorbs into. Pencil marking and sanding is no difficulty. But if you have any glue penetration across the surface you intend to stain (especially if it’s CA) then the glue might not penetrate. Then you get a blotchy look which no sanding can correct.   I had this same question when I made the Sultana (my first ship).  I’ve seen some folks prestaining their wood, which makes this less an issue. Best thing is the use PVA and be sure the surface is clear of any glue spots...on decks this can occur if you press an adjacent plank on with too much glue...the PVA may push up in the gap between planks, which means you need the wipe the residual glue out, and some PVA may absorb into the wood. 
 

Rule of thumb...carpenters PVA holds like steel once dry and you don’t need a lot. If you minimize glue spread, especially on making the deck, you are fine to stain after it’s down and sanded. 
 

Order is pencil once (or both) facing edges. Glue on. Sand down. Stain. 
 

That’s how I approached and the results were great. 

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Patrick and Mr. Walrus - Thank you both for the step-by-step guidance.  I'll give the interior deck a go tomorrow and post progress pictures when I can.  I'm trying to absorb as much as I can from all the build logs on this site, but it's like drinking from a fire hose.  I climbed the same learning curve on the plastic modeling side too so I understand it's par for the course, but I feel like I could read forever.  I have to keep reminding myself to stop stalling, get in the basement, and make some progress.

 

A question about staining planks before I do that.  Would you (or others following along) recommend pre-stain wood conditioner?  I'll be using Minwax Golden Oak stain per the instructions and while I was in Lowes I saw Minwax sells a pre-stain conditioner that prepares the wood so the stain penetrates evenly.  It is especially recommended for soft woods (which I take it the kit wood is).  

 

And a random observation.  The question of "waterline" versus "full hull" comes up regularly on the plastic model sites.  I'm a "full hull" kind of guy, but I realize there is broad support for both camps.  Judging from the number of kits that provide both options, model manufacturers do too.  How has the wood ship modeling world avoided this existential question?    

 

 

 

 

 

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54 minutes ago, Bill Gormley said:

drinking from a fire hose

This is how I also feel in this hobby. There's a lot to learn and I've only yet dipped my toes... 

 

54 minutes ago, Bill Gormley said:

Would you (or others following along) recommend pre-stain wood conditioner?

I'm not too sure about this one, maybe you could ask in one of these following forums:

 

https://modelshipworld.com/forum/21-painting-finishing-and-weathering-products-and-techniques/

 

https://modelshipworld.com/forum/20-wood-discussionwhere-to-use-it-where-to-get-it-what-types-are-best-how-to-finish-it/

 

There are many experienced modellers who could offer some advice there.. 

 

57 minutes ago, Bill Gormley said:

And a random observation.  The question of "waterline" versus "full hull" comes up regularly on the plastic model sites.  I'm a "full hull" kind of guy, but I realize there is broad support for both camps.  Judging from the number of kits that provide both options, model manufacturers do too.  How has the wood ship modeling world avoided this existential question?    

Again, I'm not too sure about this one (I'm still very novice in this hobby 😅), but it may come down to personal preference and/or following what the model was based on. For example the Syren was copper plated, so you'll see a lot of models which are also copper plated. I've also seen some models where bare wood is used. In this case the hull is just left wooden and not plated on top. Maybe also ask this in one of those forums I mentioned or this one: 

 

https://modelshipworld.com/forum/13-discussions-for-ships-plans-and-project-research-general-research-on-specific-vessels-and-ship-types/

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Minimal update here ... but some progress.  I laid the planks for the lower deck and stained them Minwax Golden Oak.  I'm not happy with the look compared to the reference photo in the instruction manual (see below).  The color isn't in the same zip code and the stain penetrated very unevenly.  Any thoughts or suggestions?  I did not use the Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner I mentioned in my previous post, so I may conduct a quick experiment to see if it makes a difference.  Is it possible the wood in the instruction manual is a difference species than what is included in the kit?

 

Separately, I have started reading ahead to chapter three and have one concern and a few questions.  The concern is that the paper template (which I cut out very neatly) doesn't come close to lining up with some of the bulkheads.  Anyone else encounter this problem?  I don't think I cut out the template incorrectly and it doesn't seem possible that the bulkheads could fit in their slots and be so far off from the template.

 

And a few questions ...

  • What is the purpose of the paper template?  The text tells you to cut it out and tape it to the model.  But before telling you to do anything further the instructions tell you to remove the template and instead attach a batten.  Is it just to help you picture what you will be doing and order to follow (i.e. yellow, green, red, blue)?  
  • Is a batten just a 1/16" x 1/8" inch planking strip?  
  • The instructions recommend little brass nails to attach the batten.  I recall seeing something similar while doing a kit inventory.  Is this where those small nails are intended for use? 

Thanks for all the help and input so far ... makes a world of difference.

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I haven’t built the Syren, but I’m pretty sure this section of decking will be under a grate and not very visible.  If you want a different look on the rest of the decking, you will be the only one who knows this looks different.  I usually test finish options on a small sample build-up so I know what it will look like before I commit it to the model.

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I have found that sanding it out and using the pre stain conditioner you mentioned is a must, especially on basswood.  I have never had it go evenly without it.

I have the syren, but have not dared to start building it but as for the reference photo - that looks like it is either a natural stain or a very lightened golden oak.   I use Golden Oak a lot but always cut it with natural stain to lighten it up and take that dark edge off.  That all being said your photo does not look that bad at all, especially since it will be obfuscated some what by the hatch.

I think you are doing great and only hope I can come close to what you and others have done with this subject.

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On 8/30/2020 at 4:16 PM, Bill Gormley said:

The concern is that the paper template (which I cut out very neatly) doesn't come close to lining up with some of the bulkheads.  Anyone else encounter this problem?

There were some bulkheads which did not lie 100% with the template. I think the instructions also mention that this may be the case since each kit is slightly different.

 

On 8/30/2020 at 4:16 PM, Bill Gormley said:

What is the purpose of the paper template?  

The first time in placing it is just to see how everything will come together, but you will still use the template for the framing

 

On 8/30/2020 at 4:16 PM, Bill Gormley said:

Is a batten just a 1/16" x 1/8" inch planking strip?  

That is what I used, but if you have a thinner scrap strip at your disposal, that might work better since it can bend better

 

On 8/30/2020 at 4:16 PM, Bill Gormley said:

The instructions recommend little brass nails to attach the batten.  I recall seeing something similar while doing a kit inventory.  Is this where those small nails are intended for use?

I don't remember which ones I used, may have just been some small nails I found in my hardware box. Maybe you could try clamping it on instead of nailing it since it is only temporary (Novastorm advised me this during this stage). Try seeing if office paper clamps work:

 

Simple Planking Clamp from Binder Clips | Ship Modeler

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Hey Bill

 

The paper template is a guide...not the rule. Also. When you bend it around the frame near the front it won’t align as the plans are printed in 2D while your frame is 3D. 
 

I used push pins to hold my batten and mark the frame. 
 

You are doing a marvelous job so far!

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By the way, Bill. If you look at my build log you see I was not too happy with golden oak either. Made some comparisons on some faux deck mock ups.  
 

I think it’s a combination of basswood and the golden oak stain...too hard to gauge...like a crap shoot. 
 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks everyone for the input and tips above.  I didn't respond at the time 2-4 weeks ago, but it helped me keep moving.  Very much appreciate the help.

 

Since my last post I have made a couple trips to Home Depot for stain.  I wasn't happy with how the lower deck turned out using straight Minwax Golden Oak, so I mocked up a small section of planks and tried again using Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner followed by a 3:1 mix of Minwax Natural and Golden Oak.  The stain has a much more uniform appearance and the lighter color looks a lot better (at least to my eyes).  

 

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I also framed the sills and lintels.  Baby steps, I know, but I like how they already start to show the ship's lines.  Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo below (red circle) I glued the sills in the wrong way with the narrower edge on top.  For those who have gotten further with their builds, will this create a problem down the road? 

 

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At this point, I have thinned the sills and lintels on one side, which you can see in the photo below.  My question here is how folks thin the area the red arrows are pointing to. There just doesn't seem to be any easy way to get in there ... and given amount of material to remove and my lack of a dremel-type tool, I'm wondering whether I'll get through this step before Christmas.  Seriously, though ... any input on how to get into this space?

 

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