18th-Century Merchantman Half-Hull Planking Kit

An Introduction to Planking

Go from plans to planked! Click arrows to drag

Learn to Plank a Hull!

Half-hull kit build in progress Toni Levine Roundtable at NRG 2019

Whether at a club meeting, at the Nautical Research Guild (NRG) Conference, or on Model Ship World, one of the most frequently asked questions is “how do I plank a hull”.

In response, the NRG has developed its first kit: a half-hull of an 18th century merchant ship. As shown at Toni Levine’s roundtable at the 2019 NRG Conference in New Bedford, the purpose of the kit is to teach the novice model builder how to plank a hull as it was done in the shipyard using a process known as spiling.

Why can Planking Be Difficult?

Most ship modelers start with building plank-on-bulkhead kits. These kits, while providing a useful starting point, often have a number of issues.

For example, these kits generally provide planking wood in all the same width. Furthermore, much of the wood is brittle and easily damaged. Rarely do kits have enough wood to compensate for the inevitable mistakes. Often, their instructions advise the builder to taper the planks so severely that they look like arrowheads at the bow. No mention is made of useful techniques such as using stealers or dropped planks.

While these kits do supply bulkheads, solid frames that create the skeleton for the shape of the hull, these kits seldom supply enough. The large gaps between bulkheads limit the amount of area available for attaching the planks. The gaps also provide poor support for the planks, resulting in dips and waves in the finished planking requiring the irregular surfaces to be filled with Bondo or other fillers. Modelers might find they need to paint over their carefully-planked hulls after all their work.

In short, the deck is stacked (and the sides!) against a modeler trying to follow the kit instructions with the materials provided to create an accurately planked ship model.

Why Plank?

Half-hull kit build in progress Half-hull kit build in progress

Why go through the extra effort, especially with the added expense of new planking material? One word: results.

A properly-planked model looks significantly better. Careful spiling of the planks yields a more historically-accurate, significantly more realistic model. The finished work also gives the modeler the personal satisfaction of learning more about the construction of the full-size prototype. A beautiful planking job helps elevate a model into a work of fine craft.

About The Kit

Half-hull drawings

The NRG selected this hull because the shape allows the builder to experience nearly every technique needed in planking, from long, fairly straight runs to tight compound curves. Mastering this hull will give you a solid basis for planking almost anything!

Our kit includes a clean, well-laid-out, and easily readable sheet of plans. Additionally, we provide a complete set of materials to construct this handsome half-hull…including a bit extra for learning from our mistakes! Of course, we don’t provide everything. Builders will need to provide their own tools, a building board, glue, and any paints or varnishes for finishing the project. This kit is appropriate for both modelers new to planking and more experienced modelers who would like a refresher on the basics.

In addition to construction materials, this kit includes a fully-illustrated, full-color, downloadable monograph. The monograph walks the builder through each step of planking the hull. This monograph may either be printed for easy reference in the shop or viewed online.

Still have more questions? Model Ship World has a full build log as well as a strong, very knowledgeable community ready to help you with your questions!

*** Buy Now! Prices and Shipping ***

Prices and shipping for the 18th-Century Merchantman Half Hull Kit:

NRG Members: $52.00
Non-Members: $65.00 (why not join now?)

If you are a CURRENT member of the NRG, use the special discount code NRG20OFF to receive 20% off the purchase price of these plans.