Jump to content

Santa Maria by Moonbug - FINISHED - Artesania Latina - Bashed

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone. Please pardon my delayed return. Like many, the idea of re-creating ship build logs is a daunting task. However, I obviously miss the shared knowledge and camaraderie. 


I'll do my best to both re-create my Santa Maria log as well as catch everyone up to speed on the Ship's progress. Please forgive some of the rudimentary comments, I have copied and pasted some of the progress posts from a Blog I also keep that is geared more toward those how are unfamiliar with ship builds.


Most people know that the ship "Santa Maria" or La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción was the flagship of Christopher Columbus' journey to the Americas.  However, people may not realize that there is very little historical evidence regarding exactly what the "Santa Maria" looked like, or how it was built. There was little to no documentation regarding ship building in 1492, and this ship was scuttled and its lumber used for shelter not long after its initial voyage.


Interest in reconstructing the Santa María started in the 1890s for the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage. In an effort to reproduce history, the "Santa Maria" has suffered three major Spanish versions, the first timed with the 400th centennial anniversary of Columbus landing in the New World, the second, for the Expo Iboamerica of 1929 and the last, the New York World Fair, 1964


In 1892 the naval historian, Fernandez Duro, modelled the ship as a Nao - A carrack or nau was a three- or four-masted sailing ship developed in 15th century Western Europe for use in the Atlantic Ocean. It had a high rounded stern with large aftcastle, forecastle and bowsprit at the stem. It was first used by the Portuguese (its creators), and later by the Spanish, to explore and map the world. It was usually square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast. Unfortunately, Fernandez Duro made a fundamental error as result of an erroneous reading of Columbus's log. It was also criticized as being too ornamented for the period.


The second attempt to recreate the ship was by Julio Guillen Tato, known as the Guillen version. This reproduction for the Expo was controversially designed as a Caravel - a small, highly maneuverable ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. Caravels were much used by the Portuguese for the oceanic exploration voyages during the 15th and 16th centuries. Tato's reproduction sailed badly and ended up a wreck.


Director of the Maritime Museum of Barcelona, Spain, Martinez-Hidalgo returned the "Santa Maria" into her rightful class, as a Nao. He further refined his ideas for the 500th centennial celebration in 1992. The model I am building is from a kit by Atesania Latina, and will be based on this 1992 version which is considered by most ship historians to be the most accurate.

Edited by Dan Vadas
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This particular kit shows the Santa Maria as having a "square tuck stern" ...




...where the hull ends in what is essentially a 90 degree angle and is flat at it's rear where the rudder is.   However, according to most Spanish ship history documentation, this style of stern didn't hit the seas until the transition to the "Galleon" style vessel in the early 1500's. That would have been 10 to 20 years after Columbus' voyage.


Ships prior to the turn of the 16th century were more likely built with a rounded tuck stern as seen in this image.



Instead of ending abruptly, the hull sweeps up toward the galley, the keel, and the rudder. It is more likely that the Santa Maria would have been built with this style of stern. Therefore, my first step toward this build will be to modify convert the stern from a square tuck to a round tuck.


The keel runs through the center of the ship and serves as what is essentially the main beam through the vessel.  The "bulkeads" stem out from the keel and provide the framing for the ship.  Later, the planking will be attached to these bulkeads and will form the hull of the ship. Step one is to shave off the 90 degree angle of the keel itself.





Then, the aft bulkheads need to be shaved down to accomodate the curve that occurs rather than the abrupt change of the square tuck.  In this case I had to shave approximately 4 mm from each side of the aft bulkhead.





Later, when the hull is planked, each piece of the hull will need to be steamed and bent to complete the "sweep" toward the keel. To help ease that process, I filled in the stern with balsa wood.





Then I began shaving down the balsa to the desired angle and curve needed to round out the stern. After getting the starboard side the way I wanted it, I created a paper template that I could attach so I could mirror the port side as closely as possible.





And here's what the new stern looks like rounded out.





The next set of  steps will be to align the keel and make sure all the bulkeads are square.

Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Frank Mastini's book Ship Modeling Simplified he describes a method of aligning the keel and bulkeads by using a false deck as a guide.  I adjusted this method and used it as the basis for steps I took to align the deck, keel, and bulkheads.


First, I measured the exact distance between all of the bulkhead "slots" in the keel.





I then took those distances (in milimeters) and translated them to the false deck. I drew guidelines along the false deck indicating where these bulkeads will fall if properly aligned. This provides a template to nail down the false deck to the bulkheads without "missing".




I tacked down the false deck along the centerline first, then aligned the end of each bulkhead to make sure it was exactly where it belonged, and nailed them down as well.



I pre-cut small blocks of wood to butt up against the bulkheads and the keel and to brace the ship and provide extra support for the hull.




Once the glue dries, the keel should be perfectly straight with each bulkhead perpendicular to the centerline. I'll then take the false deck off, do some sanding, then replace it permanenly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The bulkheads serve as the bones of the ship and will provide the base for the hull's planking.  The bulkheads are cut square, and therefore do not provide a solid fitting for the planks. 

S_Maria13.JPG  S_Maria12.JPG



The bulkheads must then be sanded so that the planks have an even fitting along the bulkheads and provide a stronger, more seaworthy ship.



S_Maria15.JPG  S_Maria14.JPG



This ship will be "double planked", which means a think layer of planking will provide the base of the hull.  A second layer of thinner, more decorative layer will then be added.

Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 The instructions for this particular kit show the windlass (the gear that raises and lowers the anchors) running ropes through to holes in a forward wall and down to the anchors.


S_Maria16.JPG  S_Maria17.JPG



In actuality, this "forward" wall didn't actually exist. Instead, the windlass ran ropes to a head beam which then attached to the anchors.  If the ship were actually built the way the above picture illustrates, then the crew would not have had any access to the foremast!


My task was remove this extra bulkhead and make the ship more accurate.  I trimmed the forward bulkhead, then added to support blocks to accomodate where the foremast hole will be drilled.


S_Maria18.JPG  S_Maria19.JPG



I then measured and re-cut a false deck that included the previously missing area.




The next step will to begin planking both the hull and the decks.

Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The "lifeboat" that came with this kit was a die cast pewter model that lacked any kind of detail.  So I set about creating a suitable craft to go aboard the ship. 


It occurred to me, that the lifeboats from the era were essentially the same shape as the overall vessel. I decided to take the diagram of the parts list that came with the kit and shrink it down on my copier.  I could then cut out those pieces and use them to manufacture my little craft.


S_Maria21.JPG  S_Maria22.JPG


After cutting the pieces out and attaching the mini bulwarks to the keel I used thin spare wood to plank my tiny hull. I then took my dremel too with a rounded sander and shaved down the bulwarks and turn them into a proper frame.

S_Maria23.JPG  S_Maria24.JPG


After the first layer of planking, I figured out that shaping the hull with a boat this tiny was extremely difficult.  I decided to double plank.  Although this is obviously twice as much work - it will give me an opportunity to even out the hull and make it look smoother.





The other ships I have built have been very "clean" and often look as though then just came from the shipyard.  This is the first time I will have attempted to "weather" and ship and make it look "antique" and "worn".  This lifeboat gave me an opportunity to try out couple things out.



S_Maria26.JPG  S_Maria27.JPG



I gave the boat a base with a cherry stain, then covered it with a darker, almost ebony dark oak stain.  Then I sanded it lightly with 600 grain sandpaper.  I originally tried just the darker stain, but after sanding, too much of the light color wood came through.


S_Maria28.JPG  S_Maria29.JPG


I will likely build one additional lifeboat as a long boat to accompany this smaller skiff. As a frame of reference for time, this small vessel took approximately 20 hours start to finish.

Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Planking the hull is one of the most tedious tasks for me.


Although "actual" ships at the time were single planked on frames (see my San Juan Nepumuceno) this particular model will be "double planked." This method takes more time, but ends up being easier as it allows the builder to smooth out any inconsistencies before the second layer is added.  Single planking must be done perfectly the first time around because all of the flaws will show.




S_Maria32.JPG  S_Maria31.JPG



Each plank (a 1mm x 5mm x 110 mm strip) is soaked in water.  The wet plank is formed to the hull and tacked in place with thumb tacks.  The tacks do not go through the plank, but rather hold it in place with it's cap. 




Then a hot plank bender (essentially a soldering iron with a round head) is run along the wood to steam it and heat it. The heat dries the wood and forms it into the shaped it's layed out in. After they are the proper shape, the planks are then glued and nailed into place. 





The planks are layered starting at the bulwarks (side of the ship that meets the deck) and the garboard plank (the plank that starts at the keel) and work their way toward the center. Each plank is done one at a time and must dry before the next plank is laid.  The planks are then trimmed and adjusted in a variety of ways to ensure a good fit and that all gaps are covered.



There is much more planking to be done, and much more will be covered. Because planks are done one at a time and take a fair amount of time in between, I often work on other aspects of the ship at the same time.  During the planking I will work on deck fittings, railings and decks...  as you'll see in the next post.

Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Planking the decks of the ship is one of the most important areas of the build.  The deck is usually the first thing people notice, and any inaccuracies or mistakes are going to be picked out immediately. 


The Santa Maria has a number of decks, three of which will be visible on the completed ship model.  While I'm planking the hull, I also started work on planking the smallest of these decks, the fore deck. This will give me an opportunity to experiment with which pattern, color, and methods I want to use for the entire ship.  If the smaller deck doesn't turn out the way I like, I can sand it down and re-do it without too much trouble.


Over the course of history, planks have been nailed down a wide variety of ways and there is no current documentation to display exactly how planks were placed in the 1400's.  Therefore, I have researched as much as possible, and have determined what I consider the most likely planking pattern for the Santa Maria.


This drawing is from "Historic Ship Models" by Wolfram ZuMondfeld.




Based on what research I could find, plank boards from this era were almost always made from oak, and in the 1400's they would have almost certainly been about 12" wide with each plank approximately 12' long. Based on this, my guess is that a "three butt shift" would have been the probably pattern.  This means that three planks would have separated each "butt" or where the two planks come together.



First, I measured and drew out the proposed pattern on the false deck. The ship's scale is 1/65, so if each plank was 12' long on the original, it needs to be about 42mm on my model.




I then cut each plank and glue it down over the top of the drawn pattern.  After gluing each plank down, I used a .5mm mechanical pencil to mark the trenails. The "tree nails" were small dowels used in place of what would presently be nails. This pattern was the likely trenail schematic for deck planks that were wider than 11 inches. My original plan was to drill tiny holes then fill them in, but I discovered that poking the hole with the mechanical pencil then breaking off a tiny bit of the lead into the hole worked very well.




Once all the planks were laid, the deck is bordered with walnut. I sanded the deck thoroughly with 600 grain sandpaper and stained it with "weathered oak" color stain.  When the stain dries it will require another sanding.  To maintain the aged look of the deck, I will sand more toward the center of the deck where the sailors would have had more opportunity to scrub, while the edges that collected water and didn't receive as much attention would remain a little more worn and darkened. 


There is much more work to be done on the foredeck including stanchions, railings, and a carved head beam that was used to ram other ships.  More to come on the foredeck...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm continuing work on the foredeck as I simultaneously planking the hull.


I got my hands on a book by Xavier Pastor called The Ships of Christopher Columbus.  The book is part of a series called "Anatomy of a Ship". 




Pastor's book gives what I believe is the most comprehensive detail on the Santa Maria that is available and is full of valuable information as well as scaled images. Pastor's information is well researched, based on the actual notes of not only Chrisopher Columbus, but also his son.


Anyway, back to the foredeck.  I've been working on the stanchions and the railings for the foredeck.  Each are made of walnut and are hand carved from a 3 mm x 3 mm strip for the corner stanchions and 2 mm X 2 mm strips for the middle stanchions and the railings.


First, I sanded and carved the corner pieces. The bottoms are trimmed and mitered at a slight angle.  The overall foredeck will be mounted at a slight angle on the front of the ship, so the stanchions must be angled to give the railings a look that is paralell to the waterline.


Simply gluing the stanchions will not old over time, so to strengthen their base, I drill a tiny hole into the bottom of the stanchions. 


S_Maria40.JPG  S_Maria41.JPG


I insert and superglue sewing pin into the hole and clip off the excess.  I then drill corresponding holes into the deck, and mount and glue the stanchions into place.


S_Maria42.JPG  S_Maria43.JPG



I then follow the same procedure for the railings.  First I drill holes and glue the sewing pins in.  Each railing is then measured, glued, and mounted along the stanchions using clamps to hold them into place until the glue dries completely.  You can also see here that I've reinforced the bottom of the deck with strips of walnut as done with the original vessel.


S_Maria44.JPG  S_Maria45.JPG


Each railing is "pinned" at its end and mitered for an even corner fit.  After all the railings are mounted they are sanded very gently with 600 grain sandpaper to smooth out all the joints.





The railings will then all be stained with darker stain, then sanded once again with 600 to 1000 grain sandpaper to give them a weathered look.  Next up, cutting and mounting the panes of wood that were in between each of the stanchions.  You may also notice the carved figurehead that represents the larger front stanchion.  This figure (most often a man or a patron saint) was believed to ward off evil and bad luck during a voyage.  More on that later...


S_Maria47.JPG  S_Maria48.JPG



According to Pastor's book, there were also removable barriers between the stanchions.  I've created these from some leftover mahogony I have lying around.  I cut it to fit between the stanchions and drilled holes.  I then stained the entire thing and coated it with Tung oil for protection and a deeper color. 


Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While continuing both the process of planking the hull, as well as working with the foredeck I will take this opportunity to post a little history of the voyage based on Columbus' ship log.  Most of this information is general knowledge of course, but worth repeating in this context.


Out of the three ships in Columbus' employ, the La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción (The Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception) was by far his least favorite.  Both the Pinta and Nina were Caravels, light and fast. While on the other hand, the Santa Maria was a Nao, more suited to hauling cargo and was short, fat, and slow.  The Santa Maria was acquired (some say last minute) from Juan de la Cosa and only used as Columbus' flagship because it was by far the largest of the three vessels. She had a crew of about 50 men, as opposed to the approximately 18 crewmembers aboard the Pinta and Nina




From The Ships of Christopher Columbus by Xavier Pastor


Christopher Columbus and his trio of ships sailed from the port of Palos, Huelva in Southern Spain on August 2nd following the coast of Spain then headed out to sea on August 3rd.  The voyage got off to an auspicious start when the Pinta was damaged and sought repairs to her rudder at the Canary Islands.  After a brief separation, the three vessels continued away from the Canaries across the Atlantic Ocean.


Although Columbus was the first European navigator to cross this region of the Atlantic, his perception of where he was, and where he actually was began to deviate in September of 1492. After travelling about 2400 miles (at an average of 4 knots), Columbus was under the impression he was in the waters of Cipango, what is now known as Japan.


The miscalculations where believed to have occurred in part due to both the difficult conditions and slow headway, as well as magnetic deviations in the ships needle.  In any event, the fleet saw little progress travelling into adverse trade winds which wore on the morale of the crew.


According to Columbus' logs, on Saturday, September 20th 1492 the crew members saw a sea bird which rarely flies very far from a coast.  Eleven days later, four more birds were seen together, and in another two days a flock of more than 40 birds was spotted.  Amid growing fears by the crew spurred from the fact that they'd seen birds but no land, the crew began regularly seeing both birds and vegetation on October 11th.  After seeing a light in the darkness Columbus wrote in his log "It was like a little candle which rose and fell," which is the first acknowledged sighting and description of the New World. Then, on October 12th, at 2:00 am, a crewmember named Juan Rodriguez Bermejo spotted land.  That land was the coast of San Salvador, at the time called Guanahani by its inhabitants.



The flags of Christopher Columbus' fleet taken from The Ships of Christopher Columbus by Xavier Pastor


 On October 14th, 1492, Columbus and the Captains of the Nina and Pinta (two brothers named Martin and Vincente Pinzon) landed on the beach carrying the expedition's green cross flag and took possession of the land in the name of the King and Queen of Spain. 


After a number of short voyages between the islands and becoming separated from the Pinta, the Nina and Santa Maria crossed the Windward Passage to Hispaniolia.  When the local Indians informed Columbus that there was gold in Tortuga and Cibao island, he headed that way thinking he had found his promise land.  However at midnight, the night December 24th and morning of December 25th, 1492, while coasting in calm waters, the helm of the Santa Maria was taken by a young ship's boy who ran her aground on the coral reefs of the islands splitting the hull.


Notes taken from Columbus' log book and Written by Ferdinand Colon (Columbus' son):

"It pleased Our Lord that at midnight, while I lay in bed, with the ship in a dead calm and the sea as peaceful as the water in a cup, all went to sleep, leaving the tiller in charge of a boy. So it happened that the swells drove the ship very slowly onto one of those reefs, on which the waves broke with such a noise that they could be heard a long league away. Then the boy, feeling the rudder ground and hearing the noise, cried out; hearing him, I immediately arose, for I recognized before anyone else that we had run aground."

Rather than attempt to repair the ship, Columbus scuttled her and used the lumber and wreckage to create the for "Navidad" where he left a garrison of 39 men, gus, and supplies.  He also left articles to barter and trade before he boarded the Nina to continue exploring.


After exploring for another two weeks, the Nina and the Pinta began their trip back to Spain in January of 1493.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I said, planking the hull is a complicated process and one that I have never particularly enjoyed. Each individual plank must be measure, damped, steamed to shape, placed, then glued.  As the hull begins to close in, planks need to be trimmed and shaved down to taper properly.  Since I am double planking this model, and the first layer of planking will not be seen, it may not seem to require the same level of precision that the outer layer will require.


S_Maria50.JPG  S_Maria51.JPG


However, the first layer of planking must still provide an even, smooth surface otherwise the thinner outer layer will appear bumpy and incorrect. The first layer of planking will be sanded until it's reasonably smooth then wood filler is applied to even out any inconsistencies.


S_Maria52.JPG  S_Maria55.JPG


The hull is sanded again with a variety of different sandpapers ranging from 100 to 600 grin sandpaper.  When the hull is as smoothe as possible, I will add the keel and bulwarks and begin the second layer of planking.


S_Maria53.JPG  S_Maria54.JPG


The keel is added by gluing it and holding it in place with a variety of rubber bands and clamps.  I then add another layer of filler to close all the gaps where the planks meeet the keel.


S_Maria56.JPG  S_Maria57.JPG


S_Maria58.JPG  S_Maria59.JPG


Then, still more sanding to make the hull as smooth as possible around all the edges and between all the planks.  The smoother the first layer of planking is, the more even the second layer of planking will be.


S_Maria60.JPG  S_Maria61.JPG

Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The small details and "deck fixtures" can make or break the way a ship looks when on display. I often take a break from the 'heavy lifting' - things like planking and sanding - to work on these smaller details. Naturally one must be careful with regard to accuracy, especially for those items that stand out. For instance, the anchor is an easily visible item that can either add a lot, to take away a lot...




The anchor supplied with the Santa Maria kit is a simple die cast molded item which looks pretty cheesy with metal stocks. The only option would be to paint them, which obviously that won't do - so I began recreating the anchor based on anchors of the time.


S_Maria63.JPG  S_Maria64.JPG


I started by gluing two pieces of walnut together to create the stock, then breaking off the shank/fluke from the forelock (where the ring goes).  After the shank dried, I didn't feel like it would be stable if I drilled a hole through the entire stock, so I decided to simulate the mount.  Instead, I notched out an area in the bottom to fit the main portion of the anchor. I also notched out areas that will fit the bronze strips that hold the stock together.


S_Maria65.JPG  S_Maria66.JPG


The bronze strips are cut, and carefully bent around the stock. I used super glue to hold them in place, then filed and sanded them down to make them look as seemless as possible.


S_Maria67.JPG  S_Maria68.JPG


To create the bolts in the stock, I pre-drilled tiny holes into the sides, then clipped off the heads of pin nails and put them in. After they were nailed in, I tapped them repeatedly with a brass head hmmer to get them as flush as possible while still having them appear 'rounded'.


S_Maria69.JPG  S_Maria70.JPG



To mount the anchor itself, I drilled a small hole in the top, and glued the end of a sewing pin into the end of the shank. Another small hole was drilled in the stock to fit the shank as well as the forelock.


S_Maria72.JPG  S_Maria73.JPG


 After the anchor is mounted and the glue dried, the entire anchor is dipped in a special solution that creates a chemical reaction turning the brass portion black.  I chose to leave the anchor in the solution long enough that some of that reaction bleeds into the wood creating an older "weathered" look to the anchor.


S_Maria74.JPG  S_Maria75.JPG



The finished anchor will be one of two that are mounted on the sides of the Santa Maria and winched up and down by the "windlass".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because planking the deck is such a tedious process (an update on planking the main deck is forthcoming), I divide my time between cutting, laying and glueing each plank, with constructing smaller details for the rest of the ship.


My intention is to make the poop deck either removable, or raise-able to see what inside Christopher Columbus' cabin may have looked like.  So I began fabricating items that my appear in that cabin. 



S_Maria076.JPG  S_Maria077.JPG


The first item is a candle on a candlestick.  To achieve this, i took a 3 mm wooden dowel made of walnut and slowly lathed it by hand with sandpaper and a pin file.  Most folks use either basswood or boxwood for carving, however I chose walnut for these pieces.  Although walnut is more difficult to carve, it is also more dense and I believe and withstand smaller incisions and carvings and still stand the test of time.



S_Maria078.JPG  S_Maria079.JPG


The next piece was a minature musket from the time period. I started with a 5mm wide pice of walnut and carved out the basic shape of the weapon.  I trimmed small pieces of brass for the bands, and used a small but thick brass wire or cylinder for the barrel.  The trigger and hammer are made from common wire.



Once constructed, I dipped the entire piece into the blackening solution (same as the anchor) which turned the brass to a blackened weathered state, but also affected the would in a positive way. 



S_Maria081.JPG  S_Maria082.JPG


Next I attempted to make a captain's telescope using two different diameters of brass tubing, and a flat piece of brass rolled up.  I cut the brass tubing and simply stacked the pieces on top of each other.  However, because the glue wouldn't stabilize the pieces enough, I drilled small holes and inserted pieces of a sewing pin.  The pin served to stabilize the pieces helping the glue hold.


S_Maria083.JPG  S_Maria084.JPG


Because the end pieces was wrapped brass, it automatically gave the end of the telescope the look of a glass lens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I began work on the hatch cover for the main deck.  I started with an excess piece of plywood cut into a square.  This gave me some stability for the initial framing.  Without the plywood, it's very easy for the frame to become out of squre while trying to glue the corners together. However... because the plywood adds an extra half milimeter to the bottom, it won't sit flush on the deck.  Therefore after the hatch is completed, the plywood will need to be sanded completely off.


S_Maria085.JPG  S_Maria086.JPG


 The edges are but at perfect 45 degree angles using a mitre saw.  After the initial framing is made with 3mm pieces of walnut, I added a second layer of frame using the same 3mm pieces but lined up on their SIDE against the first frame.


S_Maria087.JPG  S_Maria088.JPG


After the edges are sanded and rounded a bit, it gives the entire hatch a nice three dimensional look. The hatch "doors" are created using 5mm strips of walnut cut to size.  I've used three on each side, then separated the doors with a narrower 2 mm strip. This will give a good impression where the doors come together. 


S_Maria089.JPG  S_Maria090.JPG


Since it's terribly difficult to keep something so thin but wide stable, I first glued each of the doors using three strips of walnut. Then I glue and clamp the two doors to the center piece and keep it all stable by laying flat piece of excess wood along the top and clamping that also.


S_Maria091.JPG  S_Maria092.JPG


After it dries, the doors are sanded smooth and a "notch" it filed down the center to give the impression where the doors come together.


S_Maria093.JPG  S_Maria094.JPG


Ultimately, the details are added.  After trying to cut the hinges from brass proved too difficult, I instead used thick, black construction paper panted over with matte black.  Holes are drilled and nails added and blackened.  The handles are small brass eyelets also blackened.  Finally, Columbus' inventory for the Nina actually shows a chain and lock for the hold, so I thought it perfectly conceivable that the same would be included on the Santa Maria.  The small brass chain is blackened and the lock created from a folded strip of brass and a half brass ring.  Then a small hole is drilled simulating the keyhole.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Following the same pattern and methodology as the foredeck, I started planking the main deck. It's much easier to plank a deck before it is attached to the hull, so I cut an additional false deck to plank.  The original deck that came with the kit was attached to the hull to stabilize the bulkheads and the hull.


S_Maria096.JPG  S_Maria095.JPG


 Planking starts by measuring down the centerline of the deck splitting it into two equal halves. The deck is then planked from the center outward by measuring and gluing each plank.


S_Maria097.JPG  S_Maria098.JPG


Deck planks for ships were also "caulked" with tar-like material between each board. This kept the deck watertight.  To simulate this effect, I lined each plank with a black sharpie.


It's very important to make sure that each plank is exactly parallel to the center and pressed together as tightly as possible to the other planks. To achieve these "closeness" I glued each piece, clamped it at the ends, then used an additional scrap piece of wood to press the planks together and then clamped that down as well. 


S_Maria099.JPG  S_Maria100.JPG


Planking is an extremely tedious process as each piece has to be indivually "caulked" with the sharpie, measured, cut, then glued and placed.  The next piece cannot be placed until the previous piece is comletely dry or the builder runs the risk of the entire decking being pushed out of alignment.


An important aspect of accuracy is simulating the "butt pattern" for the deck.  That is the pattern in which each board is placed and "trenailed" (or nailed) into place. These methods varied greatly depending upon the time period and country of origin from which the ship was built.


S_Maria101.JPG  plankshift.jpg


Since (as mentioned several times) there were no detailed records of how the Santa Maria was built, I had to use the mostly likely butt-pattern based on available research outlined above.



There are a couple of options to achieve this effect when planking. one can either cut the planks to the length desired then glue them down, or one can glue each plank in it's full length then simulate the butts. Because of how thin these planks were, I chose the latter.  (Note: With my prevous build The San Juan Nepomuceno I chose the former method and cut each plank to length)

After the planks were laid, I gave the deck a very light sanding. Part of the difficulting of planking with the super thin strips like this is you're very limited with how much sanding you can perform. I then marked the butt pattern with a .5mm mechanical pencil.

decks.jpg  S_Maria103.JPG


"Trenails" were small wooden dowels used to "nail" down the deck. To simulate these trenails I followed the same procedure as with the Foredeck and 'drilled' the holes with the .5mm mechanical pencil. Each hole is precisely marked


This deck has 1,388 individually "drilled" trenails.

After the butt-pattern and trenails are marked, I once again used the same method as the foredeck to achieve the desired color.  The deck was most likely oak.  To achieve a aged oak color, I gave the deck a very light coat of diluted "cherry" stain. Then I went over the top of that with a more substantial coat of "weathered oak" stain.


S_Maria105.JPG  S_Maria106.JPG


Finally, I mounted the deck on the hull and am ready for the bulwarks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 In actual vessels of the time, the bulwarks were created from the bulkheads and planking all the way up the sides of the hull. However, for most ship kits, this is simulated with molded pieces of plywood that are then planked over.  This drastically eases the process of inserting cannon ports and other openings.


bulwark2.JPG  bulwark3.JPG


Unforunately, the wood used for the bulwarks on this kit is very poor. Most pieces of wood can be soaked and bent, then dried to the desired shape. As soon as the bulwarks here were soaked and formed, they split wide open.  Since this meant I needed to recut the buwarks, I took the opportunity to recut them based on the lines in Pastor's book and make them more accurate.


bulwark4.JPG  bulwark1.JPG




 The picture on the top left is the kit's directions - it shows the buwark including the clinker foredeck base and just covered with planking. This is a simplified but inaccurate way of building the foredeck mount. The picture on the top right show's the kits' pre-cut bulwark which I tossed out.  You can see it includes a higher raised bow for the foredeck.


The picture on the bottom shows the estimated lines of the ship according to the Captain's notes and Pastor's book.  When I recut the bulwarks, I removed the raised bow area and will build the foredeck mount as a separate piece.


  S_Maria109.JPG  S_Maria108.JPG


 I also took the opportunity to increase the height of the aft area, specifically the Captain's cabin. Not only is this consistent with Pastor's guidelines, but it also gives me more room to outfit the cabin when the time comes. The larger cabin will also provide for larger windows in the stern and the sides of the aft.


 S_Maria110.JPG  S_Maria111.JPG



Since the aft and the cabin are larger, the pre-fab pieces of the transom (rear deck walls of the ship) that came with the kit also won't fit properly. First I used a piece of paper to create a template, then cut out a matching piece of plywood. I soaked the plywood and wrapped it to let it dry until the radius matched the radius of the ship's transom.



I also needed to increase the size of the rear cabin since I increased the overall cabin size. A extra 5 millimeters did the trick. 


S_Maria113.JPG  S_Maria114.JPG  S_Maria116.JPG


It was difficult mounting and glueing the transom because the edges of all the pieces were so thin. I added an extra 2mm x 2mm piece of walnut to the corners to give the edges something to hold onto.


S_Maria115.JPG  S_Maria118.JPG  S_Maria119.JPG


 After the glue dries I added filler and sanded both the inside and outside edges and readied them for planking.  The inside of the bulwarks are planked with walnut veneer. Since my plan is to make the Captain's cabin visible, I took a little detour from the instructions to enhance that.  Although most cabins from ships of the time are white, this is where I decided to deviate from accuracy.



I planked what will be the cabin area with mahogony veneer instead. I think this will enhance the overall look of the cabin after the furniture and accessories are included.


After the planking was complete, the entire area was sanded with 600 grit sandpaper, then stained with a dark ebony stain. After the stain, the entire ship is coated with tung oil to bring out the color and grain as well as protect the wood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Attached to the rear keel with hinges, the rudder seems like a simple part to create.  However, getting the rudder to look proper based on the time frame is a little more difficult than it looks. I referenced both Pastor's book on Columbus' ships as well as Mondfeld's book on historic ships to model my rudder for the Santa Maria.


Rudder1.JPG  Rudder2.JPG



Early rudders were made from two pieces of wood wrapped together and attached with metal strips.  There is a main part of the rudder and a smaller strip called the "bearding".  More strips then make up the hinges. It is also important for the angle of the bearding strip to match the angle of the ship's keel so it all fits together and works smoothely.


S_Maria120.JPG  S_Maria121.JPG




Brass strips are carefully cut and glued into place to attach the bearding to the rudder.  I also added glue, to ensure that the pieces fit properly together. More brass strips are then cut and bent into the shape of the hinges.  The angles and bends must be exactly right to make a good fit.


S_Maria123.JPG  S_Maria124.JPG


 After all the strips are in place, holes are very carefully drilled for the nails / rivets. This is a very delicate process and I went through 3 broken drill bits getting these holes in place. Nales / rivets are trimmed so only the heads are available with about 1 mm of nail so they don't go all the way through the rudder. They are nailed and glued in place.


S_Maria125.JPG  S_Maria126.JPG


 After everything is constructed, the entire rudder is blackened using the chemical oxidation process. I also touched up the area with flat black paint.  The wood is treated with dark stain then coated with tung oil and polyurethane for protection.



Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most "real" ships only have a single layer of planking of course.  But several kits provide for a second layer.  This gives modellers an opportunity to clean up any mistakes that are made planking the ship by using a second, thin layer of veneer.  I've actually found the thin veneer to be even more difficult to lay down than just single planking a ship.  Nonetheless - here is the second layer planking process for our Santa Maria.


S_Maria134.JPG  S_Maria135.JPG


 I started with planking the stern and captain's cabin. This helped ensure that even though the deck and lines of the ship "swoop", the planking will still be even and parallel. Just like the first layer of planking, each piece of wood needs to be measured, dry fit, and cut to fit into place.  However, because the second layer of planking is so thin, it doesn't need to be soaked before it is bent. The down side is - because the planks are so thin, there is no margin for error because you can only perform a light sanding to even out any mistakes.




The front end of the planks must be measured and cut to fit the lines of the keel at the bow. There will be some sanding involved of course, but it will be very little. Anything more than a half milimeter will be very apparent on the final product.


S_Maria137.JPG  S_Maria138.JPG


 Each plank it glued, then held into place with clamps until it dries. The thin planking does allow for the choice of "Super" glue instead of water based wood glue. This makes the process quicker, but of course means there is no room for error. Once a plank is in place, adjustments cannot be made because of the instant bond.


S_Maria139.JPG  S_Maria140.JPG


 When the natural placement of the wood plank does not match the lines of the ship, small gaps appear between the planks. This is a normal part of planking. In these cases, the gaps/planks would not come to a point because that doesn't allow for room to "nail" down the plank and makes the overall hull very weak.  Instead, "stealer" planks were used to fill in those gaps. The stealer plank was never narrower than half of it's full width.



The final plank on the port side of the ship. It is also a type of "stealer" plank, and is measured to fill in the last remaining gap. As with other stealer planks, this final piece is made wide enough to allow for a proper fit.


S_Maria142.JPG  S_Maria143.jpg


When all the planks are in place, the hull is sanded.  As mentioned before, only very little sanding can be done. In this case I peformed a very light overhaul with 400 grit paper, then sanded a second time with 600 grit paper.  This isn't as smooth as it could be, but will allow for a weathered look when the hull is finally stained. 


Now the hull is ready to add waterlines, wales and futtock riders...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The capstan, or capstan wench, is a vertical-axled rotating machine used to apply force to ropes, cables, and hawsers. The principle is similar to that of the windlass, which is a horizontal version mostly used to raise and lower the anchors.




In its earliest form, the capstan consisted of a timber mounted vertically through a vessel's structure which was free to rotate. See the illustratoin on the left. Levers, known as bars, were inserted through holes at the top of the timber and used to turn the capstan. A rope wrapped several turns around the drum was thus hauled upon. The two pictures above compare an actual capstan from a 15th century Nao vessel, while the right picture is what was supplied in the kit. 


S_Maria144.JPG  S_Maria145.JPG


I actually tried (and failed at) several different methods before coming up with this version of the capstain. I ended up cutting very small (5mm) pieces from some leftover sapella wood. I then cut and trimmed a 5mm dowel and sanded it. I glued the sapella pieces to the dowel.  For the top of the capstain, I trimed and used the original piece from the kit because I preferred the shape. 


S_Maria146.JPG  S_Maria147.JPG


I cut and sanded to small discs of different sizes to separate the parts of the capstan and glued them all together. I needed to use different types of wood to formuate the pieces, and they all ended up being different colors and grains.  So I painted the entire capstain and stained it to even out the colors. Finally, the bars are brass dipped in the patina to color it.Similar to the forward main grate, the stern main grate needed to be constructed. The kit I'm using didn't even have a main grate toward the stern, pobably because it's not easily seen while on display. I need to get all of these main deck fixtures completed before I can mount the quarterdeck. 


You may recall I fashioned the forward deck with locked doors but I will make the rear grate more traditional cross-hatch.


S_Maria148.JPG  S_Maria149.JPG



S_Maria150.JPG  S_Maria151.JPG


I used the same process as the forward hatch, putting together eight small walnut pieces miter'd at the corners.  Then I cut and mounted the cross hatch wood. Finally, staining the entire piece.

Edited by Moonbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The process for planking the quarterdeck and the poopdeck is the same as planking the main deck.  Each plank is trimmed on the sides with a black permanent marker to create the "tar" that kept the deck waterproof.


S_Maria128.JPG  S_Maria130.JPG


After the deck planks are glued in place onto the false deck, then are trimmed and sanded. The main deck then needs "camber". This is the roll in the deck that allows the water to flow to each side then drain out of small holes called "scuppers". I created the camber of the main deck by soaking it, then carefully bending it around a plank of wood.  Keep in mind that this camber is much more severe than the deck will be on the ship, but it will flatten a bit when put in place.


S_Maria133.JPG  S_Maria133_B.JPG




The poop deck is planked in the same manner. Then the 'trenails' are drilled and the butt planks are cut. The deck is then bordered with walnut trim.  This deck (the highest deck and furthest astern) will be removable to see inside the captain's cabin.


S_Maria129.JPG  S_Maria131.JPG




 I've added a "railing" to the rear half of the ship. This will facilitate mounting the quarterdeck. The




The main deck is then trimmed with a stringer that runs along the port and starboard to link the deck with the bulwarks. The "scuppers" mentioned above will be cut along this stringer. Then, stanchions are mounted along the bulwarks. These vertical strips of wood strengthen the ship's hull.


S_Maria153.JPG  S_Maria154.JPG


 I've created these stanchions out of mahogony instead of the walnut that the rest of the parts are made of. This will give the deck a little bit of contrast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Wales" are the horizontal pieces of lumber along the hull that both strengthen the ship and provides it's "lines". Ship captains and sailors would often refer to a ship's lines when determining how she looked or how swift she might be while under sail.


The "futtocks" are the vertical pieces of lumber that are perpendicular to the wales. They not only provide extra strengthening support, but are also the base for the futtock 'shrouds' or rigging lines that support the masts and ratlines.


S_Maria156.JPG  S_Maria157.JPG


First I cut out the stern cabin windows.The comprehensive reference I am using for the Santa Maria ("The Ships of Columbus" by Xavier Pastor) says the Santa Maria was a "dull" looking ship with very few adornments. The book also shows the cabin windows as square. However, I have often seen Spanish ships of this era with these kinds of windows. So, in this case I took a little creative license with the shape of the windows. Later they will be bordered with either walnut of mahogany.


I started with the outside framing of the stern and near the rails, then mounted the upper gunwales. Each one has to be perfectly positioned. I start with the port side, then measure starboard side to ensure the ship will be perfectly symmetrical.


S_Maria158.JPG  S_Maria159.JPG


Since early on I restructured the hull of the ship to be a rounded tuck stern the wales are more difficult when they reach the rear of the vessel. I've aligned the lines of the cabin first to help keep the wales in relation to one another.


S_Maria155.JPG  S_Maria160.JPG


 Each wale is soaked then bent with the plank bender. The wale is then mounted on the ship. Notice the bow of the ship where I started experimenting with how I will stain/age the vessel (more on that below).




After the wales are mounted and glued, I covered the deck with painter's tape to avoid damage to it during the sanding/gluing process as well as the staining that will come later.


The futtocks are created with strips of walnut that run perpendicular to the wales. This provide a great amount of strength to the hull and bulwarks, especially in rough weather. I fashioned a small sandpaper file the exact size of the 1.5mm x 3mm strips to facilitate the process.


S_Maria162.JPG  S_Maria163.JPG


The placement of both the wales and the futtocks follows Pastor's reference of the 1992 replica that I believe is the closest representation of the ship as a Nao. Each futtock is measured, then the wales are sanded down to make room.  Each futtock is a two part process - the first is the 1.5mm thick plank placed where the futtocks belong.


S_Maria164.JPG  S_Maria165.JPG


The second part is an additional 3mm x 3mm strip added on top of the first plank. This gives the futtock is thick presentation. The smaller futtocks toward the main deck and bow are an additional 1.5mm rather than 3mm as these futtocks were not as deep as the rear ones.


S_Maria166.JPG  S_Maria168.JPG


After the second layers were added, each is trimmed with a carving tool so the edges match exactly. Since these areas are extremely difficult to sand, the carving tool needs to come as close as possible to matching the layers of the futtock. I don't want the fact that each futtock is two parts to be immediately visible when the ship is complete.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

It have been considering how to age the overall ship for quite some time, as I know I will only get one shot at doing it.  My original option was to use a Tung oil on the natural walnut to bring out the natural grain of the wood.  However, because the second planking veneer is SO thin, it only allows for a very small amount of sanding. As part of the planking process, very tiny remnants of glue show up on the hull - that very limited amount of sanding means it's nearly impossible to eliminate these remnants.


Unfortunately, tung oil and stain bring out these otherwise invisible imperfections because the chemical reaction is different with the glue than the wood.


Also, most of the unpainted images of ships I've seen from this era are much darker than the natural walnut used here. This is in part due to the "tarring" of the ships to make them waterproof. So, I finally chose to use a deep stain called "Kana" for the ship.


S_Maria169.JPG  S_Maria170.JPG


I didn't want the stain to look "new", so I chose a several part process to age the vessel. I stained the ship, then sanded all the flats and edges until the stain seeped in but wasn't glossy. I then re-stained the ship again with another light coat and rubbed the excess off with the rubber gloves I was wearing.




Finally, I coated the entire hull with a satin polyurethane for protection and to dull the final look. The result is the roughed up aged look of the vessel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The fo'c'sle, of 15th & 16th century Spanish Naos is very unique, sets them apart and makes them easily recognizable. However, it also creates a very insteresting challenge for this build.


S_Maria172.JPG  S_Maria173.JPG


I started out using a thin cardboard template to measure out what I would need to build. That way I could trim as necessary. The problem I ran into was getting the template stiff enough to sit in position while I put it together and made adjustments.


S_Maria174.JPG  S_Maria175.JPG


So I measured and created a wooden frame. I couldn't get the slope of the bow right. Especially since I'd already planked my cardboard templates with the thin veneer walnut. Trying to trim the top where the deck would sit and sanding the super thin veneer glued to the thick paper was impossible! The walnut just kept splintering off no matter how subtle my sandpaper was. 

I was getting super frustrated. So I re-thought my plan, and started over.



S_Maria176.JPG  S_Maria177.JPG


I took the patterns that I'd already made, and used them to cut very thin plywood instead of cardboard. I took into account the errors in measurement I'd made before. That at least got me very close. 

My reformed idea was to cut the pieces, mount them, get everything to fit, THEN glue the clinker planks. That way I could use fingernail scissors to make adjustments at the tiny area where the deck and bow meet instead of sandpaper.




I still needed to add a "brace" to get the pieces to stay in place and remain stable while I made final measurements and sanded the edges to fit perfectly. I used a piece of a sewing pin to lock that bar into place.


S_Maria179.JPG  S_Maria180.JPG


I notched out the inside of the bulwarks for footing. This was necessary to get a nice even fit for the bottom of those thin walnut veneer pieces. Once the plywood was measured perfectly, adjusted, and mounted, I planked the entire thing with the walnut veneer. It's important to note that I used CA glue (super glue) here because clamping each piece wasn't very practical. Finally, I stained it all to match.




This is what the foredeck will look like once mounted in place permanently. This piece is only sitting in position at this point because I still need to find a way to mount the foremast and bowsprit. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The windlass is a heavy duty crank that was used to lift and lower very heavy items, much like the capstain. The windlass however must most often specifically used to raise and lower the anchor(s) on most ships.


Again, much like the capstain, the windlass provided in the Santa Maria's kit is less than impressive. A quick glance at Xavier Pastor's book gave me the guide I needed to create my own.


windlass1.JPG  windlass2.JPG



I started with my own version of a poor man's laithe. I set a 10mm dowel into my trusty hand drill and began sanding it down. If this is something you end up trying, it's VERY important that you wear gloves and eye protection. The wood gets very, very hot while spinning, as do the files and sandpaper. Also, little bits of wood are constantly flying off with potentially harmful consequences for your eyes.


S_Maria185.JPG  S_Maria184.JPG


This process is very slow and requires a lot of patiences. One mistake and your entire piece can be ruined. Take your time and file off a small amount at a time. Measure out each section with a fine tip black pen. The mark shows up as a line when the dowel is rotating.


S_Maria186.JPG  S_Maria187.JPG


Shaving down the dowel on my 'laithe' took somewhere around two hours total. Each section then needed to be carved down to make the grooves for the windlass.


S_Maria188.JPG  S_Maria189.JPG


The sides and rear pieces of the windlass are carved out and fitted.  The piece in the middle is essentially a stopper. This allowed the windlass to be cranked in one direction withing spinning backward. 




 The completed windlass is then stained and "aged" like the rest of the pieces. It will eventually be mounted near the bow of the ship and rigged to the anchors and headbeam.




So I wasn't completely thrilled with the windlass, specifically the rear mount for the little lever.  So looked up a few more versions that reflect that time. 


S_Maria191.JPG  S_Maria192.JPG


First I squared off the holes on the ends for the levers and widened the base mounts on each side. Just looked too thin to me.  Then I reworked the back side going with two independent posts instead of something attached to the windlass. It made more sense for the lever-lock to go in between those with a wooden dowel and cotter pin. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After aging the hull and piecing the keel together, I felt it was time to finally mount the ruddder.

The first step was to prep the stern and the keel.  First I measured where the brackets would line up and notched out those areas.  Notice I also marked off where I would need to carve out a few areas.


S_Maria194.JPG  S_Maria195.JPG


 A uniquely shaped hole in just above the rudder holds the steering handle, or "tiller".  Unlike later ships where a helmsman used a wheel attached to the rudder with ropes and pulleys, very early vessels had a more direct way of steering the ship - a very large tiller.



At any rate, I first drilled out the outline of the tiller hole or "helm port", then delicately carved and sanded out the proper shape.  The two holes to either side were used to tie off the rudder to the tiller and limit its movement.




I then molded and cut small strips of brass where the "gudgeons" and "pintles" would match up.  Essentially these are the hinges that allow the rudder to move freely back and forth. After they were mounted I aged them and used black touch up paint to fill in any gaps while letting a small amount of brass show through.




I flirted with the idea of actually hinging the rudder to the rear of the keel and actually allow movement. It didn't take long to figure out that was a very difficult proposition so I relented to mounted the rudder stationary.  I used pins inside the pintles to mount them to the keel and keep them aligned.


S_Maria198.JPG  S_Maria199.JPG


Finally, I carved and mounted the tiller itself then attached the entire rudder to the keel at the stern.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After mounting the foredeck, and getting pretty much all I could out of the main deck and working the hull, I decided it was time to finally mount the second deck. I sanded around the edges to get it to fit as smoothly as possible along the bulwarks of the ship. There's a small gap between the deck and the bulwarks, but that will be covered with a very thin strip mounted where the deck meets the rest of the ship.


S_Maria204.JPG  S_Maria205.JPG


As you can see, it took a little bit of creativity to hold the deck in place while the glue dries. It's pretty common practice for me to use whatever is available to lodge, lean, mount, or clamp parts together while they dry in place.

I also carved and sanded my own version of deck mounts to the port and starboard sides of the ship, once again based on the illustrations from my reference materials.




Another major distinguishing difference between this kit and many of the reference materials for the Santa Maria is the existence of a "head beam" at the bow of the ship. According to the famous "Mataro Model" studied at the Rotterdam Maritime Museum, a beam at the bow was in Spanish vessels of the time to help hold the anchor(s). The Mataro model is the only actual model in existence that closely represents Spanish vessels of the 12th and 13th century timeframe. Many of Xavier Pastor's references in the book to which I refer are taken from the Mataro model as well.


Mataro1.jpg  Mataro+2.jpg


For these reasons I decided to also include the head beam on my ship. It definitely creates a tight spacing issue at the bow of the ship, but I think increases the accuracy of the model by quite a bit!


S_Maria207.JPG  S_Maria208.JPG


I took a 5mm X 5mm piece of walnut and soaked it overnight. Then I steamed and heated it to get a mild bend. It took a lot of patience and slow manipulations. I then drilled then sanded the square holes in the bow to accomodate the beam. I had to sand the holes at the same angle that the beam would sit, which essentially meant mitering the edges instead of just cutting them straight out.


S_Maria209.JPG  S_Maria210.JPG


The hard work paid off with the beam in place and sitting snuggly. It took several gentle taps with the small hammer to get it in place without damaging the hull around it. I actually didn't even glue it in place because it fit so tightly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A big part of this build for me is the ability to see the Captain's cabin and the accouterments that are inside.  I've mulled over how I wanted to accomplish that tricky feat, and have decided to come up with a hinged poop deck.  I want to be able to open the deck and see the cabin, but still have as much accuracy as possible regarding the rigging along the stern and transom.


I started by carefully measuring the poop deck and then cutting the outline of the section that will hinge upward. Although they are obviously a complete flight of fancy, I wanted the hinges themselves to be effective, but to also remain representative of the time period. My concept was to attach small dowels to the underside of the deck, then mount them to the deck edges with brass loops and pins.



S_Maria211.JPG  S_Maria215.JPG


The brass strips were drilled with the small bit then aligned with the dowel and the deck.  The thickness of the deck became and issue and needed to be trimmed so that when the deck opens it is not obstructed.  The dowels and hinges also needed to be separated enough from the edges so that they too were not obstructed.


S_Maria216.JPG  S_Maria217.JPG


After the pieces were put together, the entire deck was then dry mounted to the stern of the ship. It was during this time that I discovered that somewhere along the line my measurements were off!  The Port side of the stern of the ship was 3mm longer than the starboard side!


S_Maria218.JPG  S_Maria219.JPG


My guess is that at some point during cutting and measuring I didn't take into account the thickness of the outside planking.  At any rate, not the deck did not fit properly on the stern of the ship and needed to be repaired.  My plan was to cut off a portion of the bulwarks where the lines intersected, then attach a new piece that was the additional 3mm longer. My hope was the if I made the cuts in the right place I could come very close to patching and staining the area to get it to look very close to the existing bulwarks.


S_Maria220.JPG  S_Maria221.JPG  S_Maria223.JPG




Since the area I needed to replace was very thin, I suspected it wouldn't hold properly with just glue. I drilled and inserted metal pins into the bulwark on which to mount the new piece.


S_Maria225.JPG  S_Maria224.JPG


After gluing and mounting, I re-paneled the inside planks with mahogany, then the outside with walnut and stain. I then re-positioned the vertical strake so it evened up with the starboard side of the ship.


S_Maria226.JPG  S_Maria227.JPG


Finally, I soaked, steamed, and molded the walnut railings from 1.5 X 4mm strips and mounted them as well.  Ultimately, the repair turned out well and I think the mistake will not be very noticeable in the finished product.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may remember, my initial desire to build the ship was instigated by my teenage daughters' lack of knowledge of the Santa Maria - which I found quite disconcerting.  That's why, as I laid out in the previous post - a big part of my vision for this project was being able to see inside the captain's cabin and to have some items within that cabin that illustrate the time of the voyage of Columbus.


Granted, there is quite a bit of editorializing and guessing when it comes to the items that I've started to build here. That's mostly because there is so little documentation regarding that voyage, and Columbus' own notes with regard to basic amenities are sparse at best.  However, I did base the look of the cabin on actual items from the same time frame, and with a Spanish and sometimes Italian slant.


First, I had to finish constructing the cabin itself:


S_Maria229.JPG  S_Maria230.JPG




I started by cutting a sized template of two-layer thin plywood.  I planked the inside with the same mahogany  strips I used for the rest of the cabin.  The outside of the cabin is stripped with the walnut planks used on the rest of the hull - which is important because I plan on using the same stain pattern and color.


S_Maria232.JPG  S_Maria233.JPG




The door itself it cut, then fitted with brass hinges pinned down with brass pins. The pins have been cut to less than a millimeter, but the head is still showing. Then hinges and door are then aged with blackening patina. Also notice that there is crowning all around the inside and outside of the cabin wall. 


S_Maria235.JPG  S_Maria236.JPG


Finally, the door and hinges are fitted to the wall.  The hinges on the wall and doorframe needed to be inset slightly to allow the door to fit smoothly.  The door is mounted with two small pins that are inserted into pre-drilled holes into the frame. 


Once the cabin was pieced together, I was able to draw out a plan of what I wanted inside. I'll touch on each item individually to illustrate how it was made.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pictures & Frames:

Each picture was selected from the time period, but it's a complete guess on what a devout member of the church and essentially an employee of the monarchy would have brought along.The first frame is built with 2 X 2 mm strips of mahogany sanded down and mitered and the corners.  I mounted the strips onto a piece of printer paper to stabilize them. I used a sharpie to darken the back and mask any irregularities since the margin for error here was so slim.


S_Maria242.JPG  S_Maria243.JPG




I stained the frame a dark stain, then painted it with a thin layer of gold paint. This coloring ended up very similar to many of the frames I've seen over the years while living in Europe and visiting museums. This first picture is one of the many, many versions of Mary and child.


S_Maria245.JPG  S_Maria246.JPG


The second frame is made from sapella with two layers of mitered pieces. The two layers gives it a little depth and gives the appearance of a slightly more elaborate piece. The final product is stained a red oak. 



 Three books are all made from balsa wood and a layer of cardstock with a printed coloring. 


S_Maria247.JPG  S_Maria248.JPG


 The balsa wood is sanded to shape with pin files and 600 - 1000 grain sand paper. No matter how fine the sand paper is, the balsa wood is not going to be perfectly smooth. This is an added bonus in this situation and gives the appearance of texture for the book.  The wood is then painted white and the edges are repeatedly scored with an x-acto knife to give the impression of several pages.




For the open book - a red marker and some red highlights are added to give the overall impression that this book is a Bible, which would have most certainly been carried by Columbus.


The Sword:

  The sword is based on some light research on what a typical 15th century Spanish blade may have looked like. 


The blade is made from a 1.5 x 3 mm piece of walnut.  I chose walnut because I've had more success with the wood holding together while I sand it very small.  Nonetheless, the sword still took a couple of tries before I managed a successful blade.  Even still, the handled snapped at one point and I had to superglue it back together. The good news is, that was covered by the paint.


S_Maria250.JPG  S_Maria251.JPG


S_Maria252.JPG  S_Maria253.JPG


The brass protective / decorative piece is made from a strip of brass. I had to sand the corners to get it to bend in the directions that I wanted.  Once I had it successfully shaped, I added the knuckle shield. Gluing each of those pieces ended up being the biggest challenge in making the sword.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chair & Desk

I had some pretty specific ideas in mind for the chair and desk and was happy I was able to pull off something close to what I envisioned. The chair is started from a strip of 1.5 X 3 mm walnut and modeled after a combination of some 1400s research and the chairs we have in our dining room. Our dining room chairs are Amish made from oak.


S_Maria237.JPG  S_Maria238.JPG


The original walnut piece was sanded to fit the shape of the seat.  The legs were sanded from a 2 mm diameter walnut dowel. This sanding was so delicate, that I went through several inches of the dowel just to get the four legs as well as the cross pieces.


S_Maria239.JPG  S_Maria240.JPG




Finally, the back was sanded down to include a small curvature emulating an actual chair.  I used my dremel tool with the smallest possible tip I could find to create the slats in the back.  The entire chair was then left unstained, but coated in Tung oil to bring out the natural colors of the walnut.


The desk is a really unique piece for me. Out of sheer coincidence, I was given a set of wooden pens. Each pen came in it's own case. The sides of the case were these beautiful little pieces of polished mahogany that fit absolutely perfectly with what I was trying to accomplish!  The only drawback, they were extremely difficult to cut, sand, and polish.


S_Maria257.JPG  S_Maria258.JPG


 The legs of the desk were made from a 3mm diameter dowel that I inserted into my drill (same trick I often use) to create a make-shift lathe. I then used a variety of pin files to get the patter that I wanted. Once again, I went through many cases of the legs breaking off before I ended up with four good pieces. It was also very, very difficult to get four legs whose patterns looked close enough to one another to be acceptable.


S_Maria259.JPG  S_Maria260.JPG



 Finally, I sanded (600-1000 grit sandpaper) and polish all the pieces, stained the legs, and coated the entire combination with another coat of Tung oil.


Chess Set:

 I am a huge fan of chess.  In my home I have a collection of 14 different chess sets from 13 difference countries. I realize that actually have a chess set and table on board a ship the size of the Santa Maria is completely and utterly unrealistic. However, because I love the game, and it's not too much of a stretch to think the Ship's Captain would be a player, I decided to add the chess board. I'd also seen another builder create one out of card stock, and I admired the effort so much I had to give it a shot.


S_Maria255.JPG  S_Maria256.JPG


The board is made from a soft piece of pine.  Each set of squares is a mm wide, and the entire thing is boarded by 1.5 mm x 1.5 mm mahogany.  Coloring the squares was obviously a huge challenge.  I scored the wood at 1 mm intervals with a razor blade, then I used wood stain and a size 0 brush. Each drop of stain fell and spread within the square, but was successfully contained by the cuts in the wood!


At first I tried to have some detail in the pieces, but that failed miserably.  Instead I just distinguished them by size. I also realized that trying to have all 32 pieces was going to make it pretty crowded - so we'll have to consider it mid-game with a few pieces missing.



S_Maria254.jpg  S_Maria261.JPG


Here are a couple of shots of the final pieces and how the desk will ultimately be arranged within the cabin.

Finally for the cabin is a bed, at least one chest, a toilet facility and a couple of other small items.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...