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Santa Maria by Lapinas - Amati - 1:65 - First build

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No need to write a history of this model. This is my first wooden ship build ever. I bought this kit from a local shop in my city. I had no idea where I was getting into!




First look inside:



Work of first evening:





It was a really tedious process to sand all the edges:



I had to get some power tools in order to sand trickier parts:





I have made clamps from document clams (similar to Amatis https://store.amatimodel.com/en/tools-and-equipment-parts-per-model/product-clamp-set-b7377.html)



Getting first planks in place was difficult since I was doing that first time. I had to read and watch lots of videos to understand all the techniques. Props for this forum and written guides! I was really surprised that I my planking speed was 2 planks / hour. I was using hot water and soldering iron to get planks into the shape.

















Dremel tool was a huge help shaping this line:



Starting to look like a ship:





I saw no point covering back of the ship with these planks, but instructions showed that I have to do it:





It took a while until I have prepared hull for second planking, but it is smooth as butter now:













Started second planking:






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I have a couple questions though:

1) Do you have any idea how long hull planks were on the real ship? 5 meters? 6 meters? 10 meters?

2) How do I overlap hull planks correctly?

3) What varnish do you recommend using?

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Hi Lapinas! 


That is very neat planking for your first build. Coming from novice like myself, I hope my Santa Maria will look as good, as it is the next kit I want to build. 


What is your Boston's name? She/he is very cute and makes for a good matelot 😆

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58 minutes ago, Lapinas said:

Is this a correct way to plank santa maria? I am referring to some planks not reaching stern, but forming pointy strips. When I was doing my first planking I was able to tapper each plank and avoided any "pointy" strips.



Answering to my own question, no it is not.







It is somewhat disappointing to see that in Amati instructions, I was about to go with their example of planking

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3 hours ago, Lapinas said:

It is somewhat disappointing to see that in Amati instructions, I was about to go with their example of planking

This is simply an alternative method for modelers who are less concerned about authenticity or who perhaps lack the skills for spiling planks. If a neatly finished hull is painted, planking seams may not even be visible. BTW, your first layer turned out very nice!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have finished deck planking. After start I have noticed that I was supposed to use 4 butt shifting pattern... but when I have tried to remove planks they were attached to the false deck too well so I had to finish it as is.


Lesson learned - do not rush and do your research more than one time. I was using wrong reference. Deck still looks good though



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Your planking of hull and deck looks very good.  You can be pleased with the outcome

On 7/30/2020 at 6:15 AM, Lapinas said:

1) Do you have any idea how long hull planks were on the real ship? 5 meters? 6 meters? 10 meters?

2) How do I overlap hull planks correctly?

3) What varnish do you recommend using?

I'm not the best person to answer these questions, but I'll have a go

1)  how many good trees were there when SM was built?  Individual planks would be as long as possible/convenient - perhaps 6 to 8 metres?

2)  Not quite sure what you mean.  She is carvel built, so the planks fit side by side as you have done them.  Perhaps you meant how are the joints arranged (the shift pattern)?  Well you have done a neat deck planking, and as you say, it looks good.  We all do it a little better next time

3) Varnish - Sorry, this is not something I know about in the model ship context


Good build, show us more!

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A very nice result. Hard to believe it's your first model. Plank length varied, presumably according to the length of timber availablel, but for example the Sutton Hoo ship'splanks were 18 feet long (see 


By the way, I think the shifts in your planks are likely to become less obvious when you put the deck furniture on.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you guys for comments on my build! :)




Photo credits goes to the https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE9esmf5U1o


I have a question about upper railing plank... Is this supposed to be from the same material as hull second planking is made? In the instructions it is written as 1mm x 4mm planks, but hull second planking is more like 0.5mm x 4mm walnut. In other builds on the internet (like from the picture above) material looks like real 1mm x 4mm and not the thin hull planking kind 0.5mm x 4m. I am wondering if my kit is missing some planks or tings look different in upclose photos :) Not much hope go get an answer for question this specific though... I have sent an email to amati though.


I am going to post a nice update with model photos later :) Doing some good progress right now! I am also going to experiment with matte acrylic varnish. I was doing lot's of research on the finish and this looks like a best non-toxic varnish option. Don't know what I am going to do with hull color though. I bought some wood stain, but was not satisfied with the results on some test wood... Another option is to use tung oil (or linseed oil), but I am slightly worried using that. Also, with use of oil varnish is out of the picture then.

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Hey guys! Thank you! :) I have made a bit if progress... I have planked false keel and rudder attachment place with hull walnut planks. I could not stand the raw material and painting/staining option was not looking good either.


I just hope that there is enough walnut 1mm x 4mm planks in the kit.


Also, Amati instructions could be better... but that might be just my lack of experience.










I just noticed some little glue spots shining in the photos... I will have to clean those until the next time :)


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A little update this time. Did a second layer of black acrylic paint at the front of the ship. Then glued a 2 mm x 2 mm square plank around the ship perimeter. I am really satisfied about the 45 degree angle joint at the stern :)


Next update is going to be a bit delayed - need to experiment with varnishes and stains on wood scraps.







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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Lapinas,

For a first ship, you are doing and have done a wonderful job. Very very good for a first model with an excellent planking job on your hull. Even for experienced modelers this is a difficult task for most!

I have build the SM also, but from another brand (Artesania Latina) both look similar but things are very different in both kits.
I wish you all the luck and fun of building your first modelship. Remember, a tip from one to another. Your first model is not about a perfect build, but to complete the model and use it as a study / learning proces for the next build.


For finishes I'm font of "oils". So I use Danish Oil as a finish. It's easy to whipe on and after two or three thin layers a nice matt / semi gloss finish as a result. Remeber when using oil as a finish, only apply oil on the surface of the wood when nothing else has to glue onto it. 


1: oil on rag / towel / cloth and whipe on,

2: after a few minutes, whipe off with clean rag / towel / cloth,

3: repeat step 1 and 2 of another 2 times, but use a couple of hours in between so the layers can sink into the wood, depending on the brand.

Have fun!

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  • 4 weeks later...



After a while an update from me :)


Made canons. I have replaced metal canon carriages with wooden ones and painted canons black with acrylic paint:




Assembled anchors:



Little fences to be placed on the deck:







Water pump was missing from the kit, had to order from Amati store. I also ordered some walnut 0.5 x 4 mm planks, because with my modifications there is not enough of them to finish the ship:



Something on the main deck:image4.thumb.jpeg.463eec682a939767315eff09b732281d.jpeg


Rudder (will add nails later):



Tried to attach rudder to the ship temporary:



Cut planks to size that will hold upper deck. Rotary tool was a great helper shaping plank with curved surface:



I do not like how staining turned out with those (mistake #1), so I have sanded those a bit (mistake #2). If you were looking attentively you can spot that plank with curved surface is made from different wood - found some scrap walnut in the kit:



When supporting structure was glued in place overall view got a bit better. For all future Santa Maria builder here: be very attentive with placements of these planks.



Attached upper deck:



Started building structure for captains deck (I think this is the name, sometimes I get very confused with all the names):





Dry fit and Quality Assurance inspector:



Attached backside:





I absolutely hated making side panels for upper decks. You need to glue it 0.5 x 4 mm planks side by side, messy job:






Planked captains HQ, glued sidewalls in place and more:



When working on railings / etc I recommend making spacer templates in order to keep spaces equal and planks parallel:



I have found no other to way to glue it and keep it tidy:





Vertical 2x2mm planks glued to the sidewall:



Prepared forecastle deck:





After railing are attached it started to look like a real ship:



I mean really:



That last photo really made me clean all the glue spots from the deck that I was not able to notice before... Anyway, I found out that really close up photos are a really good way to spot any defects that could go unnoticed otherwise.


So at this time the ship is at this stage:








Honestly, I had no idea it will be that hard to build model ships and as rewarding at the same time :)









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Beautiful crisp work, Lapinas. I like the fact that you've made your own wooden gun carriages to replace those provided in the kit.


The "backside" would be called the transom, and the "captain's deck" would probably be best called the poop deck. But many of our modern terms for sailing ship parts weren't in use at the time Santa Maria was built (apart from the fact that they would have been Spanish words anyway).

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Thank you guys! :)


21 hours ago, Danstream said:

Very sharp and precise work! It looks good overall and in the close-ups. Did you have to bend the walnut strips sideway for the second planking? If yes, how did you do that? 

Congrats for your splendid work,




Yes, I had to bend planks both ways.


To bend planks I was using simple electrical iron... I do not see this technique advertised enough :D Basically I wet the plank, turn the electrical iron at the max setting and press down and twist. You will need to "twist" with iron in multiple places, I tend to use just the tip for the twisting motion.


I saw many unnecessary complex and time consuming ways to bend the blanks laterally, but using the electrical iron is the best one I think :) For other simple bends (non lateral) I use home made form-a-strip tool (https://store.amatimodel.com/en/tools-and-equipment-parts-per-model/product-form-a-strip-b7381.html) and soldering iron.


I found said lateral plank bend technique on some obscure russian video on youtube I can no longer find unfortunately. Video is 100x better explaining it.


WARNING: this technique is not safe for your electrical iron since it left marks on the ironing surface. Will have to buy a new one for clothes.


Also, modelshipworld has collected excellent books about planking techniques. I suggest reading it. Youtube videos can help you a lot too.

Edited by Lapinas
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A little update here. Did some work on vertical support structures on the sides of the ship (I am pretty sure these wood columns has their specific name as everything in the ship has :D)


Each vertical column is made from 9-11 parts - depending on length.









Edited by Lapinas
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Good morning! :)


A little update from me.


Glued on doors+hinges on the 2th deck:






Glued all vertical hull reinforcements, they still need to be sanded a bit:






Added steps for reaching forecastle:




I am getting closer and closer to the most scary part of the ship - sails and rigging :)


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