Monday, June 25, 2012

Split Hulls and Deck Accessories

I'm back!  I have a lot of material from my current build to go over so this will be a some what extensive post. I want to cover a couple of things this time.  First split hulls and then how to make some deck accessories that will add detail to the ship.  

This is the beginnings of my current build which is the most cliche ship of all time, the pirate frigate.  It would take a blog post in and of its self to explain all of the carving that went into this hull but for this post the important thing is the split.  

Here is the ship split.  Splitting the hull enables you to put a bigger ship into a smaller bottle.  This gives the illusion that there is no way the ship could fit in the bottle much less the mast and sails.  With this ship I've used the channel to hide the split.  The channel is the raised section of wood that goes horizontally across the hull.  The channel is used to keep the stays from rubbing against and breaking the rails of the ship.  When the ship is put together the channel will hide any creases between the split.  

This is after I applied the paint.  I use acrylics mainly.  It's easy to clean up, cheap, and it looks good.  In order to create the fine lines of gold paint I dipped the very tip of a toothpick into the paint and applied it by drawing it on like a pen.  Where it was over applied I let it dry and put the brown paint over it until it looked right.  The hull still splits it is just stacked on top of the other in this photo.    

These two shots show more of the deck.  I drew in the planking with a fine point sharpy.  I also added a hatch and a long boat.  I regret that I didn't get more pictures of these before gluing them in.  I will try and go over them more in a later post.  The hatch is made in much the same way as the other parts.  I painted lines across the hatch vertically and horizontally so it looks like a grate.  I then used my fine point sharpy to fill in where the holes in the grate would be.  I then glued a frame around the hatch and sanded it down so it wasn't coming up to far.   My general rule for applying more wood to any section of the ship is to add more and sand down rather then to get it perfectly cut the first time.  

As for the long boat I cut out a small block of wood and sanded it into shape.  I sanded off the corners in the front first then rounded the bottom finally rounding up the front and back.  This will take time and patients since the boat is so small.  I don't worry about carving out the inside it's to small for that.  I turn it upside down and glue it onto the ship.        

The next thing I want to go over is anchors.  I love putting anchors on my ship.  I like the detail they add.  I make all of my own anchors out of wire.  This way I can make them the exact size I need in order to fit my ship.  This is especially helpful in ships of this scale since I've yet been unable to find anchors that you can buy for such small ships.  I've outlined all of the steps below. 

Your going to need a set of needle nose pliers to do this the smaller the better.  Use plenty of wire you'll be cutting off the excess in the end.  Clamp the wire in the middle.             

Then simply fold it in half. 

Clamp the wire together just below the end.  The top portion that is not clamped together will make the eye of the anchor.  

Then decide on the size of your anchor.  For bigger sizes I like to twist the wire together for added strength.  When you get real small this become impossible.  

You then want to bend the ends around the needle nose.  The closer you get to the end of the needle nose the smaller the loops will be so use that to decide the size you want this part of the anchor to be.  

 Then trim off the ends and make final adjustments according to how you think it should look.  Another SIB builder who I shared this idea with added a little strip of wood on top that is consistent with real anchors.  I didn't add this until I saw how well her's turned out and have since included it.  It can be a pain to get it to glue just right.  As always have patience and keep trying.

 I now want to go over a very popular accessory to ships the cannon!  A pirate ship would not be a pirate ship if it did not have cannons.  I use two methods of canons on this ship the first is the cannons in the side of the ship.  For these I used wire insulation with the wire taken out.  This works well because it has the hole where the cannon balls come out so it adds a little bit of realism there.  For these I drilled into the side of the ship and glued them into place.  That to me is the simplest way to add cannons to a ship of this scale.

 I also used a more complicated method for the cannons on deck.  Unfortunately I ran out of room on deck or I would have added more.  In any case for this method I used a dremel to sand down a tooth pick into the shape of a cannon.  The simplest way to explain it is sand down the middle section and then round off one end and keep the other end straight.  This takes time and patients as well.  It is hard to hold and sand such small parts so take your time and work with it.  
 The next part is to make the base of the cannon.  Cut out a small rectangular piece of wood and glue two toothpick sections for the wheels.  Then glue the cannon on top.

 This picture just shows the cannon on the deck of the ship.  The other cannon will soon be glued down on the other side.

Thank you for reading I hope this has been informative.  I will be posting more on Ships in Bottles and this particular build later.  If this blog has inspired you to build your own SIB please email me a picture at  I would love to start a followers gallery and show off your work.  Thank you again for reading.

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