My Grandfather's half-hull models

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Project by jmartel posted 614 days ago 1064 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I haven’t seen anything like this on LJ’s, so I figured I would post them up. A long time ago, my Grandfather made half-hull models of various sailboat and rowboat hulls. I believe his earliest one was made in 1966.

The first 2 I have hanging in my apartment, and the second 2 are part of a 4 boat set that is hanging in my parents house. To give a representation of size, #1 is about 21” long, #2 is 30” long, and #3 and 4 are roughly 16” long.

The lines through the middle of #1, 3 and 4 represent the design waterline of the hulls.

8 comments so far

View exelectrician's profile


1533 posts in 1058 days

#1 posted 614 days ago

The polished flowing curves show your Grandfather loved doing what he did.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Boatman53's profile


836 posts in 827 days

#2 posted 614 days ago

Nice models, did he write on the back the boat they represent.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

View jmartel's profile


1902 posts in 781 days

#3 posted 614 days ago

On a few of them I believe he did. Unfortunately, the two that I own do not have any markings at all, which is odd since he always signed and dated his work.

He also did Nantucket style woven baskets, but I don’t have any with me and no photos of them.

View shipwright's profile


4914 posts in 1429 days

#4 posted 614 days ago

Very nice half models.

The first one has the spoon bow and graceful counter of a Grand Banks schooner.
If the second one isn’t a Friendship Sloop, I’d be really surprised.
Number three is a Chesapeake Bay Pinky. She has “a cod’s head and a mackerel’s tail” as well as the signature “pinked” stern.
Not sure about the last one but looks like an older merchantman.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View a1Jim's profile


112014 posts in 2208 days

#5 posted 614 days ago

Very cool.

-- Custom furniture

View GnarlyErik's profile


205 posts in 765 days

#6 posted 614 days ago

Your grandfather had a love for things nautical for sure, as these are nicely made models, true to the types, and obviously carefully made with a discerning eye. He had to spend much time on these models. As to types, I’d say Paul’s comment above is spot on, including the Friendship Sloop. Picture #4 is a large-volume merchant type built from the late 18th Century on both the east and west coasts until well into the 20th Century. This type was built both schooner and square-rigged.

Your grandfather obviously intended these as decorative models. They are not the same as builders models, since they include items like rudder posts, bulwarks, keel pieces and trailboards. Builders did not bother with the externals unless they were making a presentation model for the purpose of marketing, like an architect makes preliminary drawings. Most builders half-hull models were also built in ‘lifts’, i.e., horizontal layers parallel to the waterline at a specific scale, and pegged together so they could be separated into their component layers after the builder was satisfied with the model – sort of a kind of 3-D plan – and a downright clever way of designing in three dimensions. They would then lay the half-model on a mirror to get an accurate idea of the complete hull shape.

And, coming under the possible heading of ‘Arcane And Needless Stuff to Know’, most builders models were made to the ‘inside’ of the planking for the purpose of ‘picking off frames’ to scale up for building the full size frames which determines the finished shape of the vessel as it is planked up. If not done in that fashion it becomes necessary to deduct the planking thickness (with changing bevels changing the deductions!) in order to build accurate framing in the first place!

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


4505 posts in 923 days

#7 posted 301 days ago

Very cool, with great commentary by GnarlyEric (which makes this a Favorite).

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View padric's profile


31 posts in 863 days

#8 posted 300 days ago

I am always on the lookout for half hull models in antique shops, but they are very hard to find. I’ve made a ew myself but they are crude compared to these. Your grandfather was a real craftsman.


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