Picture of Build a Plank on Frame Model Ship
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Welcome! My name is Bob Hunt and I build model ships for a hobby.  I've been building these wonderful models for over 23 years now. I want to share with you a very detailed set of instructions on how to build a fairly simple "Plank on Frame" model ship.

The ship I've chosen for this Instructable is known as the Hannah.  It was the first ship in George Washington's Navy. The first photo shows what the finished model will look like.

"Plank on Frame" means that the planking on the hull is laid across actual frames that are similar to the actual frames of a real ship of this time period.  This particular model is not what we modelers call "historically correct" because the framework that makes up the hull is a stylized method of framing and not an actual duplication of the historical framework used.

The woods used in this model are not your garden variety of woods.  In other words, you can't run down to your local home improvement store and buy them.  But they are readily available through certain exotic wood importers such as http://www.gilmerwood.com .  They sell all kinds of wood including woods that are well suited for model ship building.

The frames, keel, and some of the outer planking are made of a wood known in the hobby as boxwood.  This is not the same boxwood shrub that might grow in your yard. It's a kind of tree that grows in various parts of the world and has virtually no visible grain and is very hard.

Some of the outer planking is Virginia holly, a very clear, white wood, as is the deck planking.  The pinkinsh wood is called Swiss Pear and is also used for the upper planking, mouldings and some of the deck furniture.  The black wood across the hull is ebony.

All of these woods can be obtained through Gilmer Wood (mentioned above).  Milling the wood to the dimensions needed to build this model does require a miniature table saw and a regular woodworking table saw or band saw. Additional information on milling the wood will be covered in the next step of these instructions.

To build this model, a set of plans are needed.  For this model, I needed to create the frame drawings in particular.  After doing some additional research I was able to find the two key drawings needed to loft a set of frame drawings. A body plan and waterline drawing for a Colonial Fishing Schooner very similar to the Hannah.  These drawings were drawn by a gentleman by the name of Howard I. Chappelle, who is no longer alive, however, many of the books he wrote on naval architecture are still found in bookstores today.  

Using Chappelle's body plan and waterlines, I was able to loft a set of frame drawings for my model. Photos of some of my CAD work are shown with this step.  I am providing a complete set of my CAD drawings for this Instructable in a ZIP file.  All drawings needed to build the model are included in PDF format and can be printed on standard 8-1/2" x 11" bond paper.  Some of these drawings would not fit on a single sheet of paper, so 2 or 3 drawings were created that can be taped together to form the complete drawing (using the black reference lines found on both halves).

The drawings can be downloaded from my website at http://bobsmodelships.com/HannahDrawings.zip . You might also want to browse my website to see additional photos of my construction of the Hannah model as well as some other models I've designed in AutoCAD and buit from scratch.  Hannah was the first scratch built model I made where I developed plans in AutoCAD.  In later models I not only used AutoCAD to design them but CAM software and a router mill to cut all of the parts out.  Feel free to check out my website at http://bobsmodelships.com for photos of some of these models.

After downloading the ZIP file, unzip it to any directory you wish to work from. You may open the unzipped PDF files with Acrobat Reader. These files all have meaningful names that you can easily distinguish. You will be told what drawings need to be printed for each step of these instructions.

To aid in the framing of the model, a special jig is used.  This jig holds the framework in perfect alignment until the outer hull planking is applied.  I'll cover the construction of the jig in full detail later in this Instructable.

Please do not be intimidated by the complex appearance of the finished model.  These instructions will explain the complete construction of the model in step by step detail.  Anyone with wood working skills should be able to build this model, provided of course, that they have the proper tools.  I will be covering tools needed as well.

So let's get started!

buck22172 months ago

That is beautiful

heydari7 months ago


Jack Moran1 year ago

Thank You soo much!

I would really love to see you add sails to this.

midnight12 years ago
It seems someone doesn't like my comment . Well if Mr Hunt didn't remove the link to the plans and close down both sites he mention above , and if he was man enough to answer my messages on the now deleted sites as to why no one could access the plans any more , all I will say is TUFF . Before you go defending some one get both sides of the story . He fails to understand what this site is about . His is the first instructable I have come across where you can't do the project because of no plans . I won't name the other forum Or the person that has decided to take this matter else where but I will if I see any mention of this again .
I'm new here, signed up today. But it took me all of a five minute search to find that Mr. Hunt had started his own school of model ship building at Lauck Street models. Also, Mr. Hunt is using plans based on another's design, Mr. Harold Hahn. Perhaps this could be deleted but, it's not a good reason to trash the guy's rep. He does good work. If you want to build a plank-on-frame model yourself? Research books on Naval Architecture and you can find drawings in there that you can re-scale and go with that. Good luck to you.
As a new scale boat modeler, I can only imagine the patience and work required to create this piece of art...
midnight12 years ago
Oh , and a boo to you to .
midnight12 years ago
Tom , don't old your breath . He is not really respected in the modelling community . He should have the plans here not on an external site . He probably spat the dummy because he didn't win and shut down his site So no one could down load the plans His forum is run like a communist state . This instructable should be deleted because its useless with out the plans of which he won't share .
zezotamano2 years ago
thank you

Where are you?
Wanted to check out your website but- to no avail!
Has the site moved, or has it expired?

CementTruck3 years ago
I have always wanted to build a Chinese Junk in this fashion and leave it half done so the intricacy can be viewed.

I am always awed by people with your patience, talent, and attention to detail. Beautiful workmanship!
Jetpack53 years ago
Beautiful! I will have to try this.
poofrabbit3 years ago
Wow, wow, wow! What craftsmanship! Very well done! A wonderful 'able as well!
Model Ship Builder (author) 3 years ago
Thank you. Be sure to check out my website at http://www.bobsmodelships.com to see even more detailed models and how I built them.
KEUrban3 years ago
Beautiful work.
On the ship, the models, and the Instructable, too!
Fantastically detailed and easy to follow. Kudos, laukstreet.