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How to Plank a Model Boat

Planking a model boat is a difficult and time-consuming process. Each plank must be individually shaped and placed, using glue that binds nearly instantly, leaving little room for mistakes. Once the planks have been successfully laid, though, the model will bear a unique look that can’t be achieved with any other form of hull building.

Things You'll Need:

  • Water
  • Sandpaper
  • Wooden Planks
  • Hot Iron
  • Cyanoacrylate Glue

Measure your boat starting from the widest point of the boat and working your way to the ends of the boat. Measurements should be made from the deck of the boat down to the keel rabbit, which is the lowest point of the boat. The girth of the boat at each bulkhead frame point along the hull will determine the width of each plank at that point, with each plank changing width along the line of the boat.

Measure your plank size. Start with long, flat, equally sized planks. Divide the size of the boat at the widest point by the number of planks to determine the number of planks you will need to place along the hull.

Cut the planks to fit along the boat’s hull using the measurements at each bulkhead to determine plank width. Boats are usually wider in the center, growing slimmer toward the ends of the boat. The planks should follow the same formula, being wider at the center of the boat and tapering inward toward the ends.

Wet the planks thoroughly and then place them on the hull, using a hot iron to bend them along it. Clamp the planks to the hull and allow them to dry in the necessary shapes.

Unclamp the planks and then glue them to the hull using the cyanoacrylate glue. You should apply the glue at each bulkhead, quickly moving the planks into place, beginning at the rabbit keel and moving upward until you reach the halfway point up the hull. Repeat the planking process from the deck line working downward until you reach the lower half of the planks.

Glue the final plank in place between the two halves, shaping the plank to fit the gap between the two plank lines. Allow the structure to set overnight.

Sand the planked hull to a smooth finish.


You can place a second layer of planks created of exotic woods if desired, following the same process as that used for the first layer. A second layer also provides a stronger hull for the boat.

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