Wear Ship Dave

My attempt at scratch building HMS Leopard

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12 September, 2013

Today I pre-ordered the Sails of Glory Starter Pack.

I'm excited and greatly looking forward to getting my hands on the game and the ship models. I'm a model builder at heart, but I do not own any ship models. While 1:1200 scale ships are available, SoG will be using ships scaled a bit larger at 1:1000... What to do!?

I wonder how hard it would be to scratch build a ship...

I began by searching the internet for reference material, focusing on sites that cater to ship modelers. In my search, I found many plan sets for sale and some sets that are available for free. I chose one of the free sets and downloaded it. I will attempt a 50 Gun 4th Rate Ship built in 1790, HMS Leopard.

Next began the scaling of the plans. HMS Leopard had a hull that was 146ft 5in just above the waterline. My calculations make a 1:1000 scale version 1.758 inches long. Yikes! That's going to be small and fiddly!

The Plans
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The Material
So, I have the plans chosen and scaled via PhotoShop... The next big question is what material to use???

I toyed with the idea of using a modeling putty called Sculpey. The stuff is easy to work, and can be hardened by baking in an oven for a few minutes. Problem is the scale and my limited skill at sculpture. So, I ruled out modeling clay...

Next I considered balsa wood. It is also easy to work, but at such a small scale it will be difficult to create detail in the soft wood.

What about card stock? I could make the ship layer by layer, in a similar fashion that Shapeways makes their products. Just with heavy paper instead of lasers and powdered plastics... It might be difficult to achieve a good finish though...

I'm thinking now, that I will combine card stock and balsa wood. I can use the card stock on key levels, like the waterline... Lower deck... Upper deck... Quarter Deck... Poop Deck... Forecastle... And use layers of balsa sheeting between the layers of card stock.

The advantage, I hope, will be the ability to use the card stock to define the shape of the ship at each level. Making it possible to sand away the balsa "filler" between decks to the proper contours. It should be much simpler than straight up carving.

But what of the difficulties in creating detail that I discussed before? Well, I have a plan cooking! But that's for another day!

NEXT UP: Converting the Plan Sheets into something that can be used

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Updated 09-12-2013 at 20:49 by Wear Ship Dave



  1. Volunteer's Avatar
    Looks like quite a project. Please keep us all posted on your progress Dave.
  2. Wear Ship Dave's Avatar
    It should be interesting. I can already tell you that from an effort cost perspective, it would certainly be far more efficient just to lay out the $13 dollars and buy another mini from Keith...

    But who wants to wait!

    Besides, I'm curious to see if I can create something that doesn't look too terrible.

    Biggest trick is going to be figuring out this Blog feature on the site... I haven't yet found a way to start a new, but connected entry... Hmmm....