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HM Cutter Sherbourne by AH1973 - Caldercraft - first wooden ship build


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Hello everyone,

 

after introducing myself to this forum yesterday I received several very kind replies and was encouraged to start a build log. So here goes ...

 

(This is my first time not only of building a wooden model ship but also of writing a build log - so please bear with me ;) )

 

So far I have checked the contents of the box and glanced over the supplied plans. Previously I had already looked at the "simple hull planking techniques for beginners" guide here at the forum, so I knew the first task should be to mark the bearding line and cut out the rabbet recess - and I hit the first problem. According to the guide, the exact position of the bearding line is supposed to be marked in the plans, but I couldn´t find it. Did I not look right or is it missing from the plans? And if so, how can I mark this line on the keel, when it´s not given in the plans?

 

And then another thing: after stating how important the exact work on bearding line and rabbet recess were for the finished model, the guide subsequently states that it isn´t really necessary after all and that it makes little difference to the finished model anyway! As a novice to this kind of model building I´m already confused before I even started with the build.

 

A little help and enlightenment would be highly appreciated :D

Andreas

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Andreas,

 

I think you'll find the 'simple hull-planking techniques for beginners' guide here, and the directions on most kit plans, certainly these ones, are two different animals! Kit plans are usually pretty minimal, or non existent, so you would have to mark out the bearding line and the rabbet yourself – that is if you wish to.

 

Honestly, I don't actually think they're actually necessary, although they may make the planking easier. I didn't do either with my Sherbourne, although I remember I did taper the garboard plank edge where it fitted the keel. You'll appreciate that's some time ago now!

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Great to have another Sherbourne being built. I'm looking forward to seeing how your build goes.

 

I did the same as Kester -- no rabbet and I simply sanded at the keel area to do the bearding until I was satisfied that after planking the width at the keel would be the same as the rudder. Just measure the width of the rudder and then the width of all the planks. You then subtract the one from the other to find the width you have to achieve at the keel. The bearding just makes sure that the planks lie smoothly towards the keel.

 

I also made the process easier by using filling blocks between the bulkeads so that it was obvious when the run of the planking would be smooth.

 

I hope that makes sense, but if not then come back with more questions. You'll find that forum members are very generous in their support!

 

Tony

 

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Andreas,

 

I think you'll find the 'simple hull-planking techniques for beginners' guide here, and the directions on most kit plans, certainly these ones, are two different animals! Kit plans are usually pretty minimal, or non existent, so you would have to mark out the bearding line and the rabbet yourself – that is if you wish to.

 

Honestly, I don't actually think they're actually necessary, although they may make the planking easier. I didn't do either with my Sherbourne, although I remember I did taper the garboard plank edge where it fitted the keel. You'll appreciate that's some time ago now!

 

I thought along those lines already as well. I guess I´ll go without the bearding line. Thanks.

 

I did the same as Kester -- no rabbet and I simply sanded at the keel area to do the bearding until I was satisfied that after planking the width at the keel would be the same as the rudder. Just measure the width of the rudder and then the width of all the planks. You then subtract the one from the other to find the width you have to achieve at the keel. The bearding just makes sure that the planks lie smoothly towards the keel.

 

I also made the process easier by using filling blocks between the bulkeads so that it was obvious when the run of the planking would be smooth.

 

I hope that makes sense, but if not then come back with more questions. You'll find that forum members are very generous in their support!

 

Tony

 

Thanks Tony, it does make sense. Does filling the spaces between frames make planking as such easier as well? Is it usually done, or just at the bow and stern? Or is that up to anyone´s preference?

 

Generous and friendly forum members will be a welcome change - I´ve been active in another forum (though not modelling related) and the overall atmosphere there was far from homely :(

 

Andreas

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I think that a very high proportion of modellers fill in at least the bow and the stern because you have such strong curves for the planking in these areas. I chose to do it all the way round as I thought it would make planking easier as well as making the shaping easier. Quite a few others do that too. I used balsa, but in general most prefer basswood/lime as it shapes better than balsa while still being easy to cut and sand, and takes glue as well as nails when planking. In my next build, if I build using bulkheads, then I'll be using the stronger wood.

 

To my mind filling between all the bulkheads makes a lot of sense. In addition to making the shaping and planking easier, it also makes the model more robust. However, please do note that I am still on my very first build, so I am certainly no guru in this department!

 

Tony

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Andreas,

 

Bow and stern blocks provide a greater area for gluing the planks in both these areas where the bend is considerable, especially at the bow. However I think the use of them also depends on the particular model and the spacing of the bulkheads. On Sherbourne, I found that the bulkheads were fairly close together and the curvature not that severe, therefore I didn't feel they were particularly necessary. Their use, however, is really up to you.

 

I bent the planks in the bow area with a pair of plank nippers, which score the underside of the plank. These do have to be used with care however, and I know some model makers don't like them, preferring to use other methods. I have never used nails, but special pins with a shoulder are useful to initially hold the plank whilst the glue dries, removing them afterwards. A tip here is to not pin directly through a plank, which tends to split it, but to drill a small hole for it into the frames just outside where the edge of the plank will lie. The shoulder will firmly hold the plank down until the glue sets. I'm not sure about blocks between the frames, and have never used them.

 

A beauty about the Sherbourne is that she is double planked, so it doesn't particularly matter if the first planking isn't that good – although I am sure yours will be! :)

Edited by Stockholm tar
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So I´ve finally actually started the build, freed the false keel and the frames from its sheet and dry-fitted them together. The way I understand it, the "real" keel comes on later, after the first layer of planking is done, right? So that means, that the garboard plank of the first layer should be flush with the false keel - otherwise you can´t fit the real keel. As you can see in the picture below, some frames extend all the way to the edge of the false keel, or even beyond it (the tops of the frames are flush with the top of the false keel part). Before I start filing and sanding away I just wanted to check: Do I have to take material off the frames, until they are "low" enough to allow for the first layer of planking to be flush with the false keel and then be able fix the real keel? Or did I get it all wrong?

post-17975-0-30916000-1425125326_thumb.jpg

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As far as I remember, I sanded the bottom edges of the bulkheads until they were flush with the central frame. Your picture shows that, just as in mine, some of the bulkheads are flush and the others are not.

 

I added the keel, stem and stern post before planking. However, since then I noted that quite a few people plank first and then add the stem, keel and stern. I have often thought that that would be an easier way to go as you are then not worried about getting the planks flush with the keel etc when you have no rabbet into which you can insert planks. It also would make sure you don't damage the stem, stern and keel by sanding or filing the planking. I had a lot of scuff marks on my stem, stern and keel as a result.

 

At this stage you also need to think about two other aspects:

 

1. Make sure you drill the holes in the stem for the main stay before you glue it on. You might also want to drill 5 rather than the 3 holes recommended in the kit. Kester (Stockholm Tar) and I have only drilled three, but if you look at Dirk's (Dubz) and Gregor's builds they started with three, but then, on discovering that cutters of the period had 5 holes, cut a section off the stem and replaced it with a section into which they had drilled 5 holes. I don't think it will matter very much unless you come across a stickler for historical accuracy.

 

2. Consider how you will mount the final model. Some people like to drill holes in the keel and bulkheads for nuts to be able to take mounting screws. However, if you are going to place it on the kit stand then of course this won't be an issue.

 

Tony

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Andreas,

 

Yes, it is as Tony says. Trim the bottom of the bulkheads so they're flush with the base of the keel. It's important that the upper edge and the top of the keel are level too, to get the right curvature for the deck. Like him, I also glued the keel piece, stem and stern posts, before I did the planking, but perhaps adding them afterwards might have been better.

 

Re. his other two points:

 

1) Drilling five holes in the top of the stem piece would seem to be the more historically accurate, rather than the three as shown in the kit. I probably would have done it, had I thought about it early enough – and at about the point you are now – but as it is, I just beefed up the size of the lanyard! You'd also have to think about the position of the holes – whether its three above and two below, or the other way around. Of course, you'd also have to replace the deadeye from the kit with a five-hole one. Unfortunately, kit firms don't seem to make them (it looks like Caldercraft just provided a bigger three-hole one, similar to those for the deadeyes) so you would probably have to make your own. 

 

2) Entirely up to you of course, whether you use the kit stand or go for something better, but if the latter now is the time to do it.

 

I'll add another two points, which I think might make things easier later on:

 

3) Cut about half of the way through all the frame tops at deck level. Yes, you read that right – but don't get alarmed! As far as I remember from the instructions, it says something like 'with a pair of pliers, twist off the frame tops,' which you have to remove, to fit the inner bulwark planking. I thought that there was no way I was going to do that, without causing serious damage, so hit on this simple solution. With the pliers I then only had to break off the remaining wood that was left, which wasn't a problem, and it didn't leave an unsightly mess of broken wood. It's then just a question of tidying up with sandpaper. It's probably best to make the cut from the side, and cutting half-way through leaves enough for some rigidity. Also, don't use too much glue, where the frame tops touch the gunport strips.

 

4) Always read ahead of where you are in the build, and try to spot any potential problems before you get to them, which you might be able to avoid – advice I don't always take myself! :huh:

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Kester's right. Reading ahead is really important! Unfortunately, the instructions with the kit are so basic that some things are hard to plan for. That's when it becomes really useful to read as many build logs of the model you have, and there are some books it's also worth getting if you think you're going to be interested in making it more accurate in reference to the look of the pumps, the guns, and the rigging. Many of these things are discussed in the build logs on this forum, as you may well have noticed. I have  noticed that I have spent far more time reading and planning before each different part of the model -- although unfortunately I still miss things out.

 

I also have probably made 4 attempts on each part before getting it to a personal level of satisfaction (it's always a compromise, so it depends on your level of obsession/fanaticism as well!). For example, I have just finished my fourth bowsprit and am just about to move to making the different parts for it (cranse iron, inhaul/outhaul ring, rigging). But I regard it all as part of the fun. There's one modeller on this forum whose motto is that each part is a different model, so for any one build you have hundreds of models! I go along with that idea.

 

Just to add to Kester's list, many have found the gunports to be the wrong size for the guns and carriages included in the kit. It's really worth making one gun early on and trying to fit it to the different gunports. I ended up making my own cannon to be the correct size for the 3-pounders that the Sherbourne is supposed to have carried. Others have filed out the gunports to allow the guns to fit. It's just another of those things you have to consider for yourself.

 

Tony

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I forgot to add that Chuck's build of the cutter Cheerful is being followed by many of us as a great example of craftmanship and thinking. You can find it at
 http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/8131-hm-cutter-cheerful-1806-148-scale-by-chuck/. His latest posts on planking (which includes two videos) are really worth looking at.

 

Tony

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Tony, Kester thank you so much for your advice and time - I obviously have chosen the right forum :)

 

There really is much more to take into account than I would have thought so I´m very glad you are so willing to offer your assistance and experience.

 

To me it is not so very important that the model is 100% historically accurate, and not on my very first model anyway. For now I´m content to buliding the kit "as is", which already is enough of a challenge for me at the moment. But nevertheless I´m very grateful for your advice an that regard as well, so feel free to keep it coming.

Frankly I hadn´t spent much thought on how to display the finished model, but it seems I´ll have to.

 

A word on instructions: When you say, the Sherbourne´s are pretty basic, are there other kits (or other manufacturers) which include more thorough instructions?

 

Thanks again and have a great Sunday,

Andreas

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I too thought I'd build the kit 'as is' just to learn the basic skills and have a rough idea of how it all fitted together. However it wasn't long before I was tinkering away because of how it looked or how others on the forum were doing their models or because of what I'd read -- and at each step I thought to myself "That's it, no more tinkering, I'll just get on with the rest of the kit." So it'll be interesting to see how strong your resolve is!

 

You don't really have to think about mounting the model beyond considering whether you want to do more than place it on the kit stand -- which is fine. I just decided to put bolts in more for the learning experience. I have no illusions whatsoever that when/if I finish I won't have something of great perfection and I'll probably give it away to the local barber's shop or library -- should they even want something like that.

 

As to instructions, many complain about the lack of instructions in almost all kits. However, there are a few which give more detailed instructions than others, but they also tend to be more expensive. I wouldn't blame the manufacturers too much, though. From their point of view the majority of kits are unfinished, and amongst those that finish the manufacturers might think that if they do they'll have been tinkering for themselves. They are also aware that there are many ways to approach building -- the planking is a good example. Jotika are reckoned amongst the better of the manufacturers. However, don't worry too much. Even if you do stick rigourously to the kit parts, you should be fine now that you know you can look at other builds and ask questions when you come across a problem.

 

Even the most expert builders on this forum started somewhere. They often point to their own learning mistakes and are very happy to answer questions whilst saying there is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to modelling ships. Dan Vadas (Danvad) even started a thread on how people fix their own boo-boos.

 

Tony

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Hi Andreas,

 

Only too glad to be of help.

 

I can certainly understand you wanting to build the kit from the box, as this is your first, and that's fine. Of course the choice of stand is up to you, and I actually used the kit stand too (after thinking of other options) although I cut down the sides a bit, as to my mind they obscured the hull too much.

 

Re. the 'basic' plans. I think kit plans of many manufacturers are fairly simple, which often leads the modeller up in the air (and that's where MSW comes in of course). Having said that, I believe some kit instructions are quite good – although I can't really comment on them, since they haven't come my way! Sherbourne is only my second model. The first was Billings, Bluenose ll, and their instructions certainly were nothing to write home about! Reading between the lines of a plan comes with experience and reading on the subject, I guess.

 

Tony makes a good point about making one of the guns up, to test fit it through the ports when the time comes. However, here the main thing is to glue the gunport strips as exactly level as you can. The one on the port side of my model is slightly down at the after end. I thought it wouldn't matter too much, but boy was I wrong, and I had no end of trouble in getting the two aftermost guns to fit through the ports. I had to resort to such things as: slightly flattening the wheels where they touch the deck, lowering the barrel by deepening the slots where it fits on the carriage, filing the upper edge of the gun ports themselves, etc. Even now, they barely get through the ports! This could all have been avoided, had I made sure the strips were on right in the first place, so when you get to that point take your time to do it properly.

 

One other point. If you're interested, it might be a good idea to start a small collection of modelling books, to learn the basic terms and techniques. (There's also quite a bit on this site about that.) One that I and others have found useful in respect of Sherbourne, is 'The Naval Cutter Alert 1777' by Peter Goodwin, in the Anatomy of the Ship series. It's not the definitive guide, and not about Sherbourne, but Alert is only a few years later date wise. There is also quite a lot of background information on cutters. It has been a great help.

Edited by Stockholm tar
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Thanks for the "warning" regardind the gunports, so I won´t fall into that particular trap. And I decided to go with the stand supplied with the kit.

 

Tony has also pointed out the Anatomy of the Ship Volume on the Cutter Alert, which seems to be a good idea - since I´m collecting this series anyway.

 

I´ve spent most of midday today sanding and dry-fitting the frames and the false deck. I´ve taken your advice on cutting into the tabs that will later hold the bulwarks. I cut them from the front and the back, rather than from the sides though. Since the plywood is made up of three layers, and I now cut through the two outer layers only the center layer remains which should be quite easy to snap off later - at least in theory ;)

 

Andreas

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  • 1 month later...

In case anyone was wondering: I´m still there. However I´m off to a sloooooow start - working with wood on a model kit is completely new for me (and quite different from the plastic and paper I´m used to). So there have been some minor, but discouraging set-backs and problems. But I´ve made some small progress that I want to share.

 

The framework after assembly and faring:

 

post-17975-0-72117400-1427960043_thumb.jpg

 

post-17975-0-09022200-1427960056_thumb.jpg

 

 

I followed Kester´s advice and assembled one of the guns prior to attaching the bulwarks to make sure they would later fit through the ports. Was it just me, or does the quoin simply not fit between the carriage and the gun itself? Also I wasn´t sure about the brass wire you´re supposed to use according to the instructions - it worked fine without it. Any insight on that?

 

post-17975-0-98194000-1427960088_thumb.jpg

 

 

I decided to glue the stem onto the frame prior to planking, despite your warnings it may get scratched later on during sanding. I just thought, I couldnt allign the bulwarks properly without the stem in place for reference. I managed to break off part of it and had to glue it back in place (see picture) and I forgot to drill the three holes which I had to catch up on after I had glued it on.

 

post-17975-0-88114500-1427960131_thumb.jpg

 

 

After fighting with the bulwarks for quite some time I finally managed to glue them in place - though its overall shape is somewhat less then a smoothly flowing curve ;-)

 

post-17975-0-70273900-1427960172_thumb.jpg

 

post-17975-0-71193100-1427960185_thumb.jpg

 

 

So, that´s where I´m at right now. I need to muster some courage before starting with the planking.

 

Cheers, Andreas

 

PS: I hope the pictures are large enough.

 

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Hi Andreas,

 

Don't worry about the time scale, life always has a habit of getting in the way of modelmaking – and actually, taking your time means you can think about problem solving for longer. That's the theory, anyway... :huh:

 

She's looking good at this point. Re. the guns, to be honest I don't now remember much about that stage, but seem to think there was an issue with the quoins and I made my own. Like you, I didn't use the wire at all. A couple of points about the carriages: It's probably advisable for them to be pinned (and glued) to the deck, when you get to that point, so that they don't come loose at a later stage. I drilled two small holes near to the axles to take the pins, and so that they can't be seen. (I actually painted the pins black, so there was no shine.) You might also want to think about fixing two ringbolts, one on either side of the carriage, through which the breech rope passes.

 

Pity about the stem, but never mind, you can always fix wood. I think you'd have to fit the stem in any case to fix the gunport strips, since there is a slot for them. Btw you seem to have the strips nice and level, which will probably save you a few headaches down the line. It's a good idea to have painted the bulkheads black, where they might be visible through the hatches.

 

So, now on with the planking. Have a look at the planking guide, if you haven't already done so. ;)

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Don't worry, you're doing fine. The gun carriages from the kit are indeed a problem. The brass wire that goes across the carriage serves two purposes: one is to strenthen the carriage, the other is (if it were true to scale) to hold the bed for the quoin. Unfortunately the kit carriages are not built to scale and don't really resemble the real construction of a gun carriage. You can get the plans for a 3-pounder on this site in the 'Ship Modeling Database of Articles' in the section on 'Armaments' at http://modelshipworldforum.com/ship-model-armaments-and-cannon.php. That will show you how the quoin should fit in reality. If you are finding that your quoin won't fit, then you can file it down or make a new one.

 

I eventually discarded the kit carriages and guns and made my own.

 

Tony

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Looks good to me too.

 

I find that when I take my time and think things through, develop the plan, and eventually take a step... I should have wrote down the plan because I forgot a step.

 

So now I write down the plan on my computer because it is easier to reorganize it there then with pencil, paper and eraser.

 

And yet somehow I continue to skip a step!

 

I blame it on age.

 

As you are much younger it might work better for you!

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I find that when I take my time and think things through, develop the plan, and eventually take a step... I should have wrote down the plan because I forgot a step.

 

THIS sounds VERY familiar :D :D

I seem to be doing a LOT more thinking and planning than actually building the model.

 

@ Kester end Tony:

 

I´m not quite sure yet what to do with the guns as I have also realized that they are not really historically accurate. On the other hand I find the look of the assembled gun not that bad, so I may just leave them as they are - mostly. But I´ll worry about that when I´ve finished the hull.

 

In a flurry of activity I´ve fixed the temporary battens today:

 

post-17975-0-11566700-1427972815_thumb.jpg

 

post-17975-0-32056700-1427972829_thumb.jpg

 

 

What a weird look of the model now - but at least there´s now some color for a change ;)

 

Andreas

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What a weird look of the model now - but at least there´s now some color for a change  ;)

 

Is that a cutter under construction – or a colourful hedgehog? :D

 

Looking good although, in the second photo, the aftermost bulkhead looks as though it might be a bit high in the area of the lower (or upper) of the planking strips, judging by the bend in the plank at that point. However, that might just be the angle of the photo. I hope none of your planks split, with the pins through them rather than beside them in the bulkhead.

 

I think I might have changed the guns, had I known then, etc, etc.... However, as you say, they don't look too bad and I think I made a reasonable job of mine. That's my story anyway! :rolleyes:

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You´re right: there is a bit of a bend at that penultimate bulkhead. But I assumed it´s supposed to be that way - after all, the parts have been CNC cut, haven´t they ;) Anyway, the bend is not so severe as to disturb the look of the hull, IMO.

 

No problem with split planks though thanks to watering them and pre-drilling the holes. But I did plan to place the pins next to the planks instead of through them ... yet another example of planning so much, that I forget to actually do it that way when the time comes. On the other hand, when putting the pins through the planks instead of next to them, you don´t have to drive the pins all the way into the bulkheads but just enough so that the plank is fixed. I guess I´ll experiment a little and go with what works.

 

Andreas

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