Jump to content

Where to go with hobby ..

Recommended Posts

Hi all and happy new year,


I have been modelling on and off for a lot of years , a lot of vehicles etcc related to wargaming and a swag of other subjects over the years.


I am currently working on a 1/72 scale Leander Class frigate HMNZS Waikato that I served on but the end is sort of in sight with that. I am in the process of setting up and equipping a workshop / modelling space for retirement in a few years and getting a feel for where I will take things. 


Some things I already know 


- I get far more enjoyment out of the researching and the building than I do the finished product

- space for displaying will be limited to 6-10 models of about 50cm length (says the guy with the 1.65m frigate) but will happily pass on others to people if they want them 

- I think I want to focus on maritime as that ties in with a number of other interests

- I like working with metal and wood and learning new 'crafting' skills 

- whilst I have access to and can use 3d printer, laser cutter etc I much prefer the thought of using handtools or a lathe etc.


As a result I am attracted to the idea of the more traditional wooden ship. I am not big on the galleon etc but things from the overlap of sail and steam is appealing including smaller 'working vessels' (fishing etc)  My fathers family lived in the Channel Islands and my Great Grandfather owned a small shipping line of 3-4 'clipper' style ships (do have names and some photos of oil paintings some where so would like to research and maybe build one day. But initially I think I want to start with some of the 'kits' to learn the basics and build skills.


In Australia I most often see Billings Boats and Artesannia kits in hobby shops but of course with internet  others are options too.


What I am after if anyone's thoughts /comments/suggestions  on what brand or specific kits builds they would suggest based on above ?


Many Thanks




Edited by Alun Gallie
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey up Alun! Welcome to the wonderful world of old time shipbuilding. 

2 hours ago, Alun Gallie said:

What I am after if anyone's thoughts /comments/suggestions  on what brand or specific kits builds they would suggest based on above ?

I still consider myself a newbie to wooden shipbuilding, and I ask you not to think of me as an expert. However, when I got into it, I got very excited and bought several kits which were less than useful to me. You are very welcome to learn from my mistakes. 

One thing that I have discovered, is that a manufacturer may be simultaneously marketing brilliant kits, and utter piles of junk. For this reason I can’t wholeheartedly recommend a particular brand. Billings have a good reputation (I’ve never seen one personally) and I’ve found  Artesania Latina to be ok. OcCre have disappointed me as have Corel, though they have a good reputation on the forums. 

Another huge mistake, I made was to think that because I had built thousands of aeroplane models, even the very large and complex ones, that I could handle a very large and complex ship model. That one is still on top of the wardrobe half built! Start with a small one and expect to make something of a pig’s ear of it, while you learn the skills of planking and rigging and so on. Fishing boats and yachts are ideal for this. 

The instructions that come with the wooden ship kits are notoriously awful. This particularly applies to kits with translated instructions. I strongly suggest that your first boat should come from an English speaking country.

Have a look at my Le Renard blog. That was a ‘training boat’ that I used to improve my rigging skills. I’m not recommending the kit to you, just the attitude that I adopted. It was something to play with and learn on.


My current build, L’Orenoque is a sail steam hybrid which might interest you but I can’t recommend it, because the instructions are very obscure. 

With all that in mind, make your selection as you would any other model. Find something that interests you by looking in the real and on-line shops, then search the forums for build logs, to weed out any problem boats.

When you get it. Read the instructions. Read the instructions again, then dive in and enjoy yourself.


Good luck. 


  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello @Alun Gallie, PM sent.
What Bertie said.  I'm even newer to model boat building than him.

As to kits, look for vessels with few masts - you don't have to be as extreme as NO masts (:whistle:), but one will be easier than two, and two will be significantly easier than three.

Most of what follows is based on stuff I've heard elsewhere,

Artesania Latina's Mare Nostrum, Bremen, Jolie Brise should be good for people with little to no experience.
Billings Boats?  Probably look at these for second or third builds.

Fishing vessels are, I believe, considered a good place to start model boat building.
Model Shipways offer three kits designed to ease people into the hobby, that can be bought as a set together, or separately.  Look for their 3 kit combo.

Vanguard Models (https://vanguardmodels.co.uk/) are relatively new, have a good reputation and are owned by a respected kit designer (Chris Watton).
They do have a few fishing boats that should make a good introduction to the hobby.  Vanguard publish their instructions on the kit's webpage along with a difficulty rating, so you can check those out.
(I am considering one of their kits for my third ship build.)


  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

p.s. Take a look at the Model Ship World Forum, especially the opening post in their New to ship modelling? But what do you build first? thread:

That thread dates from 2018, but the wooden ship hobby moves slowly, and the available kits are little changed.

Two new makers since then are Vanguard (https://vanguardmodels.co.uk/) and Ships of Pavel Nikitin (http://shipsofpavelnikitin.com/shop), both of whom rate their kits as to level of difficulty.
Vanguard kits are generally plank on bulkhead (two layers of planks on hidden bulkheads), while Nikitin's kits (at entry level) are open boats with a single layer of planks on frames.

Either way, I'd invest in one of the electric plank benders that look like a soldering iron with a mushroom head (Amarti and ModelCraft supply them).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would strongly recommend any of the fishing boats by Vanguard Models.Just follow the stages in the excellent instruction manual and you will have a model of which to be proud.

Many build logs of these models can be found on the Model Ship World website forums, many by James H. as he builds and photographs the prototype for Chris Watton and which form the content of the instruction manual.

Initially you do not need to invest in things like plank benders, that can come later when you move on to more complex hull shapes.


I hope this is of help to you.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...