Building the Amati Gondola – Part 2

Construction of the Gondola model has begun. As expected, this is looking like it will be a pretty quick build. But, it’s definitely something that requires attention to detail and careful reading of the instructions. Builders who rush forward, may be prone to some simple, but critical mistakes. This is probably why Amati does not considered this to be a beginner’s kit.

By the way, anyone who is interested in following this build log with their own build, you can buy this kit for $129.00 plus tax and shipping at Ages of Sail here. As you are building, follow along and email any questions or note any problems you have about the build to us at We’ll make sure you get personal attention on this project. Send us photos and we’ll post them as we go as well.

Last time, we mentioned that what makes the Venetian gondolas particularly unique is the asymmetrical hull shape. You can see from the photo of the hull bottom that there is a noticeable curve in the hull.

The kit calls on the builder to begin by cutting out the main hull pieces and to identify (and become familiar with) which is the bow end. That’s the end that’s at the bottom of the above photo. It also suggest using fine sandpaper to clean up the surface of the parts from the char that comes from the laser-cutting process.

There’s actually a notable amount of char with this model. I assume it is due to longer cutting times for this kind of fine, hard plywood, that makes up nearly every part of this model.

In sanding the parts, I found that the process created a lot of burned sawdust that got over everything. This discolored the wood to some extent, and that was hard to completely remove. I used a cloth with just a little bit of rubbing alcohol to clean off the wood, which helped some. it’s important not to use very much alcohol, as too much could de-laminate the plywood. So, I just went over it lightly one time and that’s all. The process left me with a slightly cleaner model and some amazingly dirty cloth.

The process isn’t perfect and the parts still had some char, but nothing else would come off very easily. Fortunately, all visible parts of this model will be painted. So, it’s really more a matter of having a cleaner model building experience, and to help create better gluing surfaces.

Frames lightly numbered on the laser-cut sheet. These get painted later, so the numbers will get covered up.

After cleaning up the wooden parts a little, it was necessary to number the first parts, as indicated at the very beginning of the instructions. I used a pencil to write very small number on all the frame parts before removing them from the laser-cut sheet. This actually saved me from making a big mistake on the placement of the frames that came up next – but it didn’t save me from making a small mistake…

I removed the first few frames from the laser-cut sheet and lightly sanded the edges to take off the char. the plywood is strong, but the thin frames require some care in handling. Even so, I actually managed to not break anything.

One thing that turned out to be very hard to see is the asymmetry of the frames themselves. Since one side of the hull is slightly higher than the other side, so too are the frames. By numbering them while on the laser-cut sheets, it actually made the process of gluing the frames into place with the proper facing very easy. All the numbers I wrote face the same direction on the model.

Well, all except for one frame in the following photo, the third from the left, which I accidentally glued on, backwards. Fortunately a little softening of the wood glue using some rubbing alcohol and working at the joint with a knife, and it came free.  I was then able to clean it up and glue it back into place in the correct facing.

The hull base is nicely scored, making alignment of the frames very easy. Strangely enough, these alignment marks are actually cut all the way through the bottom of the hull. This shouldn’t hurt anything later, but will require priming and sanding to hide the cuts.

The frames were glued into place using standard wood glue, and I used a small machinist’s square to get them 90˚ to the hull base.

Once this process was started, it was easy to continue for the remaining frames of this step. This covers frame parts 2 through 19.

Next time, I’ll take care of the next step (03), which covers the adding of the remaining frames.

By the way, reading ahead (always a highly recommended task), I found a mistake in the text, which says to continue placing the frames “proceeding to the bow”, but it’s actually proceeding to the stern – I just finished framing the bow. Note to Amati.

So far, so good. Any others out there who are going to rise to the challenge of the Gondola build? Let us know at






One thought on “Building the Amati Gondola – Part 2

  1. Reblogged this on Ship Modeler and commented:
    Actual construction begins on this new kit from Amati Model. It’s interesting to see a model kit with all the framing pre-cut like this. It seems to take shape pretty quickly.


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