How to Scale the Planking on Model Ships

Written by shellie braeuner Google
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How to Scale the Planking on Model Ships
Planking is a vital part of the strength and the beauty of a model ship. (pont arrière de voilier image by Unclesam from

Building a model ship is an exacting process. Some boats come in kits with the planking pre-cut. But designing a boat from scratch gives greater freedom. To a large degree, details in the planking are determined by the period of the ship. Builders in some eras used wider planks than others. Researching the period helps. If the ship is a replica of a specific model, you may find plans or records that give you the information. Because of their shape, the planks are wider at the centre line of the ship and narrow toward the prow and stern. In general, a plank is 4/5 the width at the end than it is in the centre.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Clamps
  • Model ship skeleton
  • Long basin
  • Hot water
  • Planks
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife
  • Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Wood glue
  • Masking tape
  • Paper

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  1. 1

    Clamp the ship skeleton firmly to the work surface keel side up.

  2. 2

    Fill a basin with water. The water should be hot, but only as hot as you can stand working in. Place the planks in the hot water and allow them to soak.

  3. 3

    Divide each side of the keel into two parts: from the keel line to the water line, and from the water line to the top of the ship. Mark these sections.

  4. 4

    Trim the first plank. The end should be 4/5 of the width of the centre. Lay it along the bottom of the keel. Bend the plank around the skeleton of the ship. Hold the curve in place with the cyanoacrylate or instant glue. Use the wood glue on the straighter portions. Continue to work up the side of the ship to the waterline.

  5. 5

    Trim a plank to fit at the top of the ship. Bend the plank around the ship along the top of the side. Use the instant glue where the curve is sharp and the wood glue where the plank is straighter. Repeat until there is only a small gap at the water line where the upper and lower portions meet.

  6. 6

    Repeat Steps 3 to 5 on the opposite side of the ship. Allow the planks to dry.

  7. 7

    Remove the ship from the clamps. Tape a piece of paper to the outside of the newly planked side of the ship. From the inside, trace the shape of the gap onto the paper. Place the paper on a dry plank and cut the wood to fit. Soak the plank and shape it around the keel. Glue it into pace. Repeat on the other side of the ship.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure that none of the planks end in a sharp point. These are called "dagger planks" and show poor planning. Instead, use a careful eye to narrow the planks at the prow and keel.

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