Planking model Boats?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by AleX`G, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. AleX`G
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    AleX`G Junior Member

    I was wondering if anyone could point me to a decent website which describes how you go about using wooden strips to make a planked model boat. I would be using full length strips of balsa is this suitable?

    I plan to build an IOM class model yacht and i would probably fibreglass over this with one thin layer just to make it stronger. Also am I correct in saying that the fibreglass will dry transparent if the layers are thin enough and the resin is transparent?

    Ive got tons of ideas but im kinda rubbish at building stuff so please help.

  2. Raggi_Thor
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    Raggi_Thor Nav.arch/Designer/Builder

  3. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    You can go to, and Windpower(.com,I think). is the new site for the American Model Yachting Association(AMYA) on which you should find all the help you need.
  4. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    There seem to be more model boat sites than real boat sites. But yes, they would have the knowhow.
    Fiberglass is nearly transparant, Alex. I'm not sure how fine a weave is available, but other finer materials besides glass might work just as well, like nylon hosiery (maybe). Would definately stretch over seamlessly.
    My guess is that model boat sites would provide access to some really nice dark woods and make your work look worthy of the effort. Balsa isn't the most attractive wood in the world.
    Good luck!

  5. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Planking model boats

    Alan is correct. Balsa isn't the most attractive of woods when it comes to external detail. Build your frame using balsa for the skeleton and internal structure then why not use a laminate 'skin' (available in sheets from most timber/hardware stores). Cut your own 'planks' and shape them as you would a full-sized boat/ship/yacht. It will look far more authentic.
    And good luck.
  6. GBorlase
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    GBorlase New Member

    Good morning,

    Head over to, then on the left side of the page is tab for hull planking, it is a 30-odd page document outlining how to plank a model hull. Most are double planked, a thicker basswood layer with a very thin walnut layer on top, which allows the modeler to get a nice smooth hull shape to put a walnut (or other material) laminate over.

    Balsa is not used too often because of its softness (except for filler blocks at the bow and stern.) As for putting resin over the hull to build a more modern vessel, try (they publish a magazine called Ships in Scale), and in the latest magazine a gentleman scratchbuilt a modern sailboat.

    Hope these links help, and welcome to the great hobby of model ship building!


  7. nickm
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    nickm New Member

    How to plank model boats

    You may find the answer yo need on my site.
    I had several attempts at it before I found a technique that works for me. Try to soak the planks for 15 - 30mins before you try to bend them, also use a plank nipper.
  8. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    thanks for all the sites guys

    Im also beginning a modeling project and my plan
    not sure how well it will work out
    but the plan is to build out of the materials I intend to build the real deal out of
    white oak for the frame
    red ceder for the planking
    problem I foresee is that my brad nailers are probably not going to work real well
    although I seem to remember these groovey t shaped pins we used to use for everything
    so its attaching all the stuff with just glue that is a mystery to me

  9. nickm
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    nickm New Member


    I use pins for the first planking as the holes are not seen when you have added the second planking. For the second planking try to use as few pins as possible, as you already know. I tend to use three pins, one in the middle and one either end. I then use clamps to grip the planks until the glue is set. If you use a thick Cyanoacrelate glue the grab time is very short. Make sure you plank equal amounts on each side to avoid bending. For the pin holes in the second planking I mix a little paint with the filler to match the color of the wood. and with just three holes it shouldn't notice.
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