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How To Make A Model Of A Ship

Updated April 17, 2017

Model Ship building is a rewarding experience and just plain fun. Whether you have a love of ships and their history or there is a need to just want to build something other than aeroplanes and cars, model ships are a great way to enjoy the modelling hobby.

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  1. Choose the model to build. If this is your first time attempting to build a model ship, do not choose anything extremely complicated. Pick something small and easy, like a modern ship that does not have a lot of parts. While the detail will not be as great, it will allow you to become familiar with the process of building a ship. Do not attempt a sailing ship with full working rigging and real wooden planking. That type of project will only discourage and frustrate a first time model maker. This article will concentrate on a plastic ship model.

  2. Find a solid surface on which to work on the model, preferably a place where the model and its parts can be left out to dry overnight if needed. Adequate lighting is essential for building any model.
    Read through the instructions once before pulling any pieces of the ship model out of the box or off of the sprue.

  3. Assemble the ship. Do not take all of the parts off of the plastic sprue until they are needed. Small parts can easily become lost. Starting with step one locate all of the pieces needed. Remove them from the sprue with the sprue cutter or hobby knife. Clean up the pieces of any flash (leftover thin plastic from the moulding process). File down any rough edges that need to fit flatly against another piece. Before gluing pieces together check that they fit together correctly and as the instructions say they should. Once a correct fit is achieved glue the pieces together. Allow the glue to dry before handling the item that was just glued. Look at the next step and see if the piece just assembled is needed, if it is not then proceed with step two. If the piece from step one is needed in step two, then wait for the glue to dry before moving on. Continue the process until the ship is complete.

  4. Paint the ship model. On the initial read-through of the instructions note any pieces that require painting before the final assembly and paint them. Also the pieces will need prepping before they are painted. Prepping the model for painting usually means adding a coat of primer to the model. The primer allows the paint to adhere better to plastic or if the model is made out of wood, it seals the wood. Grey primer is a good colour to use since it does not change the pigment of paint that will cover it. Black primers darken paint applied to it and white primers lighten the paint when applied. When priming the model go outside or to some well ventilated area. If you have painted areas during the construction of the model cover those areas with the masking tape prior to priming. Prime the model in light coatings. Allow a coat of primer to dry completely before applying another. Do this several times if necessary to coat the entire model. A good coat of primer does not run or bubble when applied. If that happens the primer is going on too thick. It may take a few layers of paint to cover ship completely. The masking tape is useful when needing to paint straight lines on the hull or deck of the ship.

  5. Apply the decals and flag on the ship model. Look at the instructions and see where the lines go for the signal flags and the national flags. Apply them according to the instructions. The decals come in a variety of styles from water transfer, dry transfer and rub-on ones. Follow the instructions for the type provided. Either using the rigging thread provided or what was bought in addition to the model place the lines if needed on the model. The model is now complete and ready for the display case.

  6. Warning

    Please follow all manufacturers warnings and precautions when using glue, paint and primers.

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Things You'll Need

  • Glue (plastic cement, Cyanoacrylate, or wood glue if the model is not plastic)
  • Set of files with different grades of coarseness
  • Tweezers
  • Hobby knife
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Grey Primer
  • Masking or Painters Tape
  • Green Putty
  • Patience
  • Hull vice (optional--helps hold the model while it is being assembled)
  • Sprue cutter
  • Thread (if building a ship with real rigging lines)

About the Author

Victor Cina currently lives in Oregon with his family, and is pursing a full time career in writing and research. He has written articles for "Kidz Rule USA" magazine and has freelance work for E-World Publishing. Cina is a current Master of Arts student studying history. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in dramatic arts and creative writing.

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