On page 2 of Building a Bread-and-Butter Solid Hull Ship Model, I showed how to use dowels to keep the lifts aligned, sawed out the lifts to the shape of those waterline patterns we glued to the planks on Page 1, and glued them together. On Page 4, we created a template to determine the shape of the stem and stern of the ship, and completed the last few steps needed before shaping our step-sided hull.
There are a wide variety of wood-working tools available for shaping a bread-and-butter solid hull ship model, as shown in Figure 46.
Keep in mind when using a knife, chisel, or gouge to avoid cutting against the grain, as shown in figure 47a. Figure 47b shows the chisel cutting in the direction of the grain, which will ensure it can be controlled to only remove a thin layer of of wood. When all the sections have been marked, you will begin to see a pattern to what wood must be removed, as shown in Figure 51. Use both hands to guide the chisel, as shown in Figure 52, to remove the wood marked with cross-hatching down the length of the hull. Once you’ve removed all the cross-hatching, you will almost certainly have a wavy shape instead of a smooth curve.
When you have large flat areas where the wood must be removed, as in Figure 54, a power sander helps keep the wood removal even across a wider area than is possible with a chisel. Figure 55 shows the results after just a few repetitions of the process of marking high spots and then using the chisel and rasp to remove them. Why wouldn't it be?  There are no "second-class" builds here and all are respected equally.
I've never done a solid hull but I have seen a few in build logs and from what I've seen they are not 'easy' builds just because they are a solid blank. The builds I saw were supplied with hulls crafted in the approximate dimensions of the hull with a fair amount of shaping and precision needed to get to the proper shape.
As pointed out, one can plank over the solid hull, which provides a solid foundation for the planking. Solid hull kits avoid some of the pitfalls of plank-on-bulkhead modeling since you don't have to worry about shaping planks unless you choose to plank over it, and you're less likely to end up with bumps and flat spots, which can often appear on plank-on-bulkhead kits if you're not careful.
It's true that I've seen some people be a bit disrespectful regarding solid hulls, but not really here. Many solid hull kits do not have a lot of the detail and are smaller scale that other versions of the same model. For the beginning ship modeler, scratch-building a ship model from a plan can be a daunting challenge.
There are a number of variations within the category of what is considered “solid hull ship models,” but while these construction methods differ substantially, they all share the fact the shape of the hull is not created by the modeler applying planks over an open framework of bulkheads or frames. The most simple kits to construct in the solid hull ship model category are plastic models.
While this blog is mainly concerned with wood ship models, there are many plastic kits by manufacturers such as Airfix, Heller, Revell, and Trumpeter that can be used as the starting point to creating a beautiful, high-quality ship model, although producing such a final product from most of these kits would require the modeler to replace some of the rigging detail with materials purchased separately. Figure 2b: The limitations of machine carving leave final hull shaping to the ship model builder. Figure 2c: Wood solid hull ship model kits will have a series of templates for final hull shaping.
Many modelers believe that international ship model kits in general offer greater detail than U.S. Figure 2d: Model Shipways kits pair classic model ship plans with detailed, illustrated building plans.
Normally considered a step up from solid hull ship models in both difficulty and detail, plank-on-bulkhead kits create the shape of the hull with a keel and a series of bulkheads, each of which is a silhouette of the hull shape at a specific cross section of the hull (see figure 5a). The main difference between plank-on-bulkhead kits is whether the parts are die-cut or laser-cut.
The plank-on-bulkhead hull will require more or fewer bulkheads, depending on how drastically the hull changes shape.


Speaking of Midwest’s Chesapeake Bay Flattie, previously I noted that wood solid hull model kits were “generally considered” easier to build than plank-on-bulkhead kits, this kit may be the exception to the rule. Plank-on-bulkhead ship model kits share the same differences and similarities as discussed above with solid hull kits. Plank-on-frame construction ship model kits offer the most protypically accurate construction method of any kits. Plank-on-frame ship models are the “holy grail” of ship modeling, but because the the greatly increased engineering and materials cost to produce such a kit (and the limited number of purchasers who will buy it), there is less of a variety available on the market.
I would like to see a new type of modeling: a shadow box frame with closeup detail such as mast partners with platform illustrating futtock shrouds, deadeyes, and ratlines with short sections of upper and lower masts. Estimated delivery dates - opens in a new window or tab include seller's handling time, origin ZIP Code, destination ZIP Code and time of acceptance and will depend on shipping service selected and receipt of cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab. This amount includes seller specified US shipping charges as well as applicable international shipping, handling, and other fees.
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By clicking 1 Click Bid, you commit to buy this item from the seller if you're the winning bidder. Clockwise, starting at top left I have three planes, two Stanley Surform rasps, a sanding block, my utility and hobby knives, standard wood chisels (with a honing stone above them), and a variety of specialty gouges and chisels.
Then, using each template in turn, I placed it in position, keeping the keel line parallel with the reference nail, as shown in Figure 48. Since much of the template does not touch the hull, the points where it does indicate high spots – that is, wood that needs to be removed for the template to rest in its proper position. Use a long wood rasp (I like the Stanley Surform tool) to smooth the high spots between the sections where you removed the cross-hatching, as shown in Figure 53. This hull is so large I was able to use my belt sander with coarse grit paper to remove wood faster and more evenly than I could have with a chisel. Once we get the middle part of the hull close to the correct shape, we will begin shaping the angle of the bow and stern on page 5. We created cutting plans for the waterlines by duplicating the half-breadth plan and flipping it over to create a pattern showing the full breadth of each waterline.
Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. A beginner can take a solid hull kit and do almost nothing to fix up the shape of the hull (depends a bit on the manufacturer) and build a nice looking model.
Going a step farther, a solid hull can be carved down to accommodate the planking more accurately (the thickness of the planks do change the dimensions of the hull slightly).
But it did take me a lot of work on another forum to convince them to go beyond listing model categories as: Plank-on-Frame, Plank-on-Bulkhead and Other Models. This makes them harder in many respects since you have to work a lot harder by scratch building the items that have not been planned for you. A better option for a first project in most cases is to pick from the vast array of ship model kits available today. Some solid hull ship model kits even require planking to be affixed over the hull, but the hull is still a solid form beneath the planking. While plastic ship model hulls are technically hollow, they would qualify as “solid hull” models, as in the definition above, the shape of the hull is not created by the modeler applying planks over an open framework of bulkheads or frames. However, at the high end of this range of plastic ship model kits, traditional wooden model ship kit manufacturers such as Artesania Latina (see figure 1) and Constructo offer kits that include all the intricate rigging of a wood ship model with a preformed – often even pre-painted – hull.
When assembled, the keel and bulkheads create a ladder-like framework (see figure 5b) that is then covered with individual planks to create the hull. Die cutting, once the only way to get pre-cut parts, uses a metal die with sharp edges to punch the shape of the individual kit pieces into a sheet of wood.


Because of the Flattie’s simple hull shape, the kit only has one plank on each side of the hull, and two on the bottom. And, the each plank must often be “spiled,” or shaped to fit, rather than being a consistent width from bow to stern. Generally, higher priced kits offer more detail and a model built larger scale, providing a larger finished product. Actual wooden ships were constructed of closely-spaced (often only inches of space between) frames on a keel, that were covered with planking.
Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. Truth be told, I will use the three standard wood chisels for about 80 percent of the shaping, but the gouges come in handy for tricky spots such as along the rabbet (where the bottom planking meets the keel), or other reverse curves.
After removing the template, create some cross-hatching over the line you marked to make it easier to see what must be removed, as shown in Figure 50.
We also duplicated the section plan enough times to create each template needed in final shaping of the hull. A more advanced modeler can take a solid hull and fine-tune the shape to build an accurate model. As a great many “first” ship models never reach the point of rigging and end up in a box on a closet shelf due to difficulties in hull construction, as a first project, I cannot recommend this type of kit highly enough. This simple hull construction is why we chose this kit for our first on-line kit building article. This is a tricky procedure to master (we will discuss it in depth in a later article), but once you understand the concept, it’s a fairly easy – albeit time-consuming – process to complete.
You will also notice the international kit manufacturers often include more exotic wood species for planking (some even double layers of planking) and creation of details. Because all of this detail is hidden under the planking, this method of construction is usually only used on “admiralty” models where some planking is left off the hull so viewers can see the frames.
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After all, no matter what method you chose, including plank on frame, the end result is only to create a representation of the real vessel. Higher price kits also often offer a ship model at a larger scale, creating a larger model that is easier to detail. Artesania Latina kits (see figure 1), for instance, always contain a fantastic array of cast metal, wire, and wood details, but they almost always cost more than the comparable U.S. The more modern method is to use a laser to cut the shape of pieces either completely or nearly completely from a sheet of wood. The kit will include a set of templates (see figure 2c) that the modeler uses in this shaping process to ensure the final shape of the hull matches the lines of the prototype.
In the latter case, the sheet is provided with all the parts still attached, and the modeler must cut the small uncut portions that connect each piece to the master sheet. I marked this point with arrows using a Sharpie marker to remind myself to change direction when I reached it. On the other hand, international kits have a reputation for having more difficult to understand or limited instructions as compared to U.S.



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