One thing that can be said about ship modeling is that it’s hard. It takes patience and perseverance and a bit of skill.
But, what’s especially difficult, particularly for beginners, is that most ship model kits available today, with few exceptions, have very limited instructions. This is partly due to the fact that ship modeling is an international hobby and often kits are from Europe, where any written instructions have to be translated into several languages. Also, it’s very difficult to put into words all of the myriad steps involved in building an accurate model of a wooden ship. So, many manufacturers rely on a set of drawings and the brain power and skill of the ship modeler to understand how a ship model is built. But, sometimes we need a little help… or a LOT of help.
What is one to do? How does one learn the knowledge that may be necessary or helpful in building a ship model? BOOKS!
Most ship modelers have developed his or her own library of instructional books and reference titles. Beginners can find a great deal of guidance from titles like Ship Modeling Simplified by Frank Mastini, while more experienced modelers may want to keep reference books on hand that contain handy information that is difficult to remember, but useful to have on hand when needed. Ship Modeling Shop Notes II, published by the Nautical Research Guild, is an example of a book that is chock full of information that you can read up on when you have the need to know. Another classic title is The Ship Model Builder’s Assistant, by Charles Davis. This handy reference has sections describing things like copper sheathing, tapering proportions of yard arms, etc.
An excellent reference for anyone building a square-rigger is the book Rigging Period Model Ships, by Lennarth Peterssen. This visual guide shows you each line of the ship and how it is attached and where the line leads. This is an excellent book that you’ll refer to, project after project.
Building a cutter or schooner rig? Peterssen also wrote the book Rigging Period Fore-and-Aft Craft, which covers these rigs as well as the lugger rig. The book is just as heavily illustrated, but covers a range of smaller vessels.
Ages of Sail has added these and a number of other titles over the past year and has recently added even more. Check them out at http://www.agesofsail.com.