Does anyone have any tips on helping with holding down the planking on a
wooden ship/boat model. The glue I am using both thin CA and thick CA just
isn't working well. I put a dab on one end and all is fine until I bend it
(slight bend) around the forms and try to glue it to the other stem and
either the other end comes off or I can't hold the other end long enough to
let it set.
Anyone here know of any tricks?
All I can think of is that in real wooden shipbuilding, the wood is soaked
in water to make in bendable.
Then, they hammered it down and put pressure on it to conform to the
So I guess that might do the trick. Also, CA thin glue gets absorbed by
wood, maybe that too is part of the problem?
A couple, sure:
- Don't use superglue, use wood glue instead, it gives a stronger join in
the long run - superglue is quite brittle and may break over time. If you
absolutely have to use superglue, use the gel kind.
- Glue each plank to each and every bulkhead, and to the neighbouring plank
along the entire edge
- If it is a double-planked kit: Pin the planks in the first layer into
position while the glue dries using brass nails (should come with the kit),
remove the nails afterwards; later, glue the second layer on with contact
cement without pinning. If the kit is single-planked you must use some kind
of clamp, there is a variety of clever designs out there.
- and above all: Shape the planks to fit, either before or while you are
mounting them to the hull. This is done with a combination of moisture and
heat, you may soak them in warm water or you may apply steam from a
tea-kettle etc, you may use a candle or a soldering-iron... anything goes;
moisture softens the plank and heat forms it. You can soak in houshold
ammonia for particulary abrupt bends or hard wood (ie walnut) instead of
water, this softens the wood tremendously. The point is that the plank
should dry-fit the hull quite nicely without any bending, shearing or other
violence being applied to it or the glued joints will be subjected to
excessive loads and will probably fail sooner or later.
I mught add that for a wooden plank on frame or plank on bulkhead model,
try using a hot glue gun on one side of the frame/bulkhead to make the
initial tacks, and then follow up on the other side with a good wood
glue to insure strong joins.
I use very short pins- I think they call them lill pins. They are about
a half inch long, available in sewing/fabric stores. If you are
planking on model with plywood bulkheads, you will not be able to push
these in by hand. I use a small modeling hammer. It does take a bit of
practice to learn to hit the pin squarely so it doesn't bend. Don't
drive pin in very far- just enough that it holds in bulkhead. Then,
there is enough left sticking out to easily remove it when glue is dry.
You can by special clamps that screw into bulkheads, but this takes a
lot longer, clamps are expensive, and don't work for the last few planks
as there is no room for them at side of plank.
Don Stauffer in Minnesota
You don't want to use CA to glue wood - the wood is too porous for that
adhesive. Get a small bottle of carpenter's glue; IMHO, there's nothing
better for gluing wood together. Mind you, it doesn't dry as fast as CA
Carpenter's glue is available at any decent hardware store. If for some
reason you can't find it where you live, there are a number of stores
online that sell it. (One that's local to me is
Even if you're not going to buy the glue on-line, you may want to read
the "Tech" note linked from that page, just as a matter of general
Rob Kelk Personal address: robkelk -at- jksrv -dot- com
Any opinions here are mine, not the Government's.
1. Your planks should be bent close to the final shape before you put them
on. Almost all planks must be fitted. Typically, they are tapered at the
ends -- about to 1/2 or 1/3 of the broadest width. But you must measure.
And have lots of patience.
2. A flat rubber band can be used to hold the plank down for measuring
3. Once the plank fits, it is to be bent. There are several ways -- the
traditional way is to use steam, but then you must build a steamer. And it
takes a while. Hot water will do but it tends to swell the wood too much.
The best method is ammonia water. I have a long plastic tube with a cork at
each end, filled with ammonia water. BE SURE TO GET THE KIND THAT DOES NOT
HAVE SOAP. Put the plank in ammonia-filled tube for about 5 -10 minutes
(max). Then take it out and put it in place on the ship, using some rubber
bands around the hull to hold the plank in place. Let it dry there. Once
dry, it will spring back a little, but that's okay. You will also probably
touch up the fit with sandpaper here and there. Don't expect this to go
too fast. If you get a dozen planks (6 on a side) done in one long day,
you're a speed demon. I generally do only two planks on a side per day --
that leaves lots of time for them to take shape, to dry, etc. There's no
dead time, because when the planks are drying, you work on deck furniture,
fittings, sails, spars, sails, etc.
4. There are about as many good ways to clamp the planks as there are
modelers. Don't buy the ready made clamps from model expo or Micro-Mark.
Cost you a fortune and the don't work too well. Besides, you need about 12
to 24 clamps per plank. I use the smallest steel spring clamps. They're
called "Binder clips" and are available at any decent office supply place.
You clip a binder clip to each bulkhead (or frame, or form) and you use a
cleverly shaped paper clip to hold the plank down. For some jobs, I use
doll-sized clothes pins -- they're cheap and can easily be shaped for the
momentary need. Other clamps are the smallest Kant-twist clamps, small
alligator clips -- little pins at an angle in the bulkhead or frame or
form -- but never in the plank itself ... there's no end to it. I figure
I've got several hundred very small clamps of all sizes. The biggest
mistake that you are probably making is not using enough clamps. My rule is
simple -- as many clamps as I can fit in.
5. In the rare cases where the bend is so extreme that you really do have
to hold it down somehow, use an accelerator. This comes in a spray bottle.
You spry it (carefully) on one of the pieces (e.g., the frame) and apply the
CA to the other surface. It will stick INSTANTLY -- THERE'S NO GOING BACK
(except to debond using a CA debonder spray, or the knife). So exquisite
care is required if you're going to use an accelerator. I've never needed
to use an accellerator for planking. I do use it where I have to stick a
small part on that just can't be conveniently held in place -- e.g., that
darn tiny cleat I forgot to put in and only saw it was missing after half
the lines were already rigged.
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