Greg Meyer
Last Update: 4/7/2005

I’m a member of Bob Hunt’s Ship Modeling College dedicated to help us “newbies” complete our first model-ship kit. I have used Prof. Bob's practicum to construct my first model ship - the AVS (Armed Virginia Sloop) - and I'm presently working on the USS Constitution. Along the way I found that there are other alternatives in constructing as well as ideas that helped me along the way. I like to document my ideas and have shared them among fellow members. Prof. Bob included some of my ideas in his Enhanced AVS practicum; but in constructing the Constitution, I have come across additional ideas and have shared them among fellow members. Some members are encouraging me to share these ideas with a larger ship-building community. In their spirit, I am sharing with you some of my thoughts I think are important in constructing model ships – knowing full well that some ideas may be incorrect or that other better methods are available. “Show and Tell” was one of my favorite subjects in school and I guess I’ve never gown out of elementary school. So here goes - my risk in showing my ignorance - and hopefully some of these ideas will stimulate further discussions and improvements, as well as correcting any deficiencies I hold. Here is my first paper …


1. Open the kit; look and feel the parts - this will make the kit “kit-friendly” and breaks the ice to get started;

2. Take inventory to get familiar with the kit parts; check enclosed parts against inventory list; contact vendor if parts are missing;

3. Sort wood into categories:

a. Sort by thickness first … and … type if more than one wood type is supplied;

b. Then sort wood into subcategories by width. I wrap each subcategory with masking tape and label width on the tape. I also place masking tape around the thickness package (sub-group bundled) and label it’s thickness. I have found that wood is not always cut to specified widths; and if not careful, you can get one width mixed up with another - thereby possibly running short of one wood width. Sometimes the measurements are so close that is can be easily mixed with another - and by checking the number of strips enclosed - is a good validating check. Also, when building commences - it is a very time consuming process to look for the wood called for and mistakes can easily occur here. Anyway, getting the wood organized is always a good thing.

AND FOR THE FANATIC: you can re-mill the wood. For each subgroup, measure thickness and width with a good set of calipers and mill/ thickness sand to exact specifications. This ensures that the wood is as specified and should produce a nice fit – given that the specifications are correct for the design.

4. After removing laser-cut parts from their billets, save the billet material - it can be used for scratch built parts that the kit calls for later on, thus reducing somewhat the fear of using up wood of the billet thickness before the project is completed. I use this extraneous wood whenever possible - thus saving on the wood strips supplied – and - maybe have enough extraneous wood to build another boat after a few kits. I have a Preac table saw - and use it to cut the billets into strips (see Wood, Wood Everywhere and Not a Strip to be Found … a later paper).

maximum widths - can always be cut less-wide later

- the reverse is harder unless you have a “plank stretcher”! -

5. Before you glue the keel assembly onto the center keel - contact me and I'll show you a nice way to bevel the rabbet into the keel, such that the garboard strake fits flush into the keel rabbet and plank edges and hoods (ends) fit square into the stem, keel and sternpost rabbets (see Installing the Rabbet … a later paper).

6. When you get to fitting the bulkheads on the center keel - contact me and I'll show you a nice way to get them to fit together without guess work and a sloppy fit (see Installing Bulkheads … a later paper).

… And if you get any ideas along the way to building your kit - please share with me.

I'd be remiss at this time of not addressing the Practicum and how to use it. I like hard copies which to read from; so ... I print out each practicum in its glorious color and put it into binders. Mentioning binders, I like to use good binders where the rings lock into place. Nothing like binder rings that are partially open and the pages tend to hang up upon turning. Also, I like to store the printed pages in plastic inserts, thus no punching holes and saves the high-priced printouts from damage and spillage. I purchased all the necessary binders and sleeves at Walmart and Office Depot. These are available at just about any office supply stores. I've pictured one of my volumes (2 of 4) for the Constitution below.