Question: Model Ship, Clinker Built (Lapstrake) Construction

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Forum topic by LoyalAppleGeek posted 05-29-2016 10:13 PM 398 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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108 posts in 313 days

05-29-2016 10:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: draken harald hårfagre dragon ship viking model lapstrake clinker built boat

Greetings and salutations!

I’m entering a field that I’m a real novice in: model building. Specifically, a Viking Dragon Ship, one reminiscent of Draken Harald Hårfagre. We’ve been following Draken Harald Hårfagre’s incredible voyage for a while now, as it’s our direct heritage and we love to study it. I would like the model to use the traditional construction method of Clinker Built (Lapstrake) boards and have a true to real life frame. However, it needs to be simple as well, i don’t have 1,000 hours to invest in some of the incredible models I’ve seen here. I would really appreciate any advice and resourses you could give to help me along this new endeavor. I’ve never built a model of anything, so don’t really know where to start in the modeling process.


5 replies so far

View Planeman40's profile


788 posts in 2180 days

#1 posted 05-30-2016 04:05 PM

Having built a number of ship models, I would strongly recommend that you purchase a kit. There are Viking ship kits available for clinker built models. Just Google “Viking ship kit”. some that are listed are:

Plans are also available, however building from scratch will require a model maker’s table saw that will cost you from $200 to $500 just to cut the wood. Also, even from a kit you will have to invest a lot of time and patience. If you really want to avoid an investment of time, just buy a plastic model of a Viking ship to build.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View LoyalAppleGeek's profile


108 posts in 313 days

#2 posted 05-30-2016 07:39 PM

Thank you Planeman,

I am very open to simple model designs as well, I’m not ready nor able to construct something with the intricacy of a purchased model using planking on a frame. From some online research, I was looking at solid hull construction, as this would allow me to use more traditional woodworking methods. Any advice on that point? I’m looking for something rustic, but is still unmistakably a Viking Dragon Ship. I’m glad to have been answered by someone who knows what their doing, because I’m not that person yet :-) Purchasing a kit isn’t really an option right now.

Thanks again!

View Planeman40's profile


788 posts in 2180 days

#3 posted 05-30-2016 11:57 PM

I am not aware of any Viking ship model kit having a solid hull. There some already made models of Viking shops with a solid hull, but these are simple models. Here is a link.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1444 days

#4 posted 05-31-2016 04:18 AM

Some years ago I made a lapstrake/clinker model of a Howard Chapelle dinghy. The book had the offsets, which I used to lay out the plan as if I were building the full size boat—but at a scale of 1” = 1’. The full size boat is 9 feet, and the model is 9”.

The planks I cut from western red cedar on the TS. They’re about 1/16” thick. The frames are white ash, about 1/8’ by 3/32”. I found it easiest to prebend the planking and the frames on a hot stove pipe (which is the genesis of my fanaticism concerning bending wood with heat, but not steam, as some of you may have noticed). I tried boiling the tiny frames to bend them in, but after a few seconds out of the hot water, they were cold and not bendable. Hot stove pipe to the rescue. (Let them cool before installing).

This is supposed to be a little rowing/day sailing boat, hence the mast hole and centerboard trunk. It actually has a little sheet brass centerboard that is raised by the string in the photos. I have never sailed it, nor even gotten it wet, and it still is unfinished. Every time my wife dusts it, she breaks off another part. There are a rudder and mast somewhere—oh, and some tiny oars, as well.

If I were to do this again, I’d buy some of the extremely thin (1/32”, 1/16” etc. plywood that you can get at hobby shops to use as planking. I would not use balsa.

The cost of this little boat was close to zero, as I had all the materials on hand. It’s not hard to do, just takes patience. I’ve built other models, but this one is the only lapstrake.

Some NAs and boat builders say that lapstrake is easier than carvel (fitted edge to edge). That’s because the amount of overlap isn’t critical, and fittling is therefore less fussy. However, because the plank edges show, lining off (making the plank lines aesthetically pleasing) is more important. Remember that the planks taper toward the ends, and all of them, except possibly for a plank at the bilge, will have edge set. You cannot force the edge set in, it has to be cut. A handy way to accomplish this in a model is to make paper templates for each plank. I like manila file folders for this. Of course, once you have the plank for one side made, use it as the template for the other side. Work the sides alternately. Keeps the boat from going crooked.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2341 days

#5 posted 05-31-2016 12:03 PM

I have successfully built and floated some scale model sailing ships. . Radio controlled. I did them from plans but I also recommend a kit for your first build. I had extensive experience building flying model airplanes from way back to when I was a child in 1950, so starting from just plans worked OK for me. One tip I have for building plank on frame models is to use a compressed air powered pin nailer to attach planks to the frame along with glue or coarse. Lots of fun.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

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