Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 6 (Final)

One of the features of this model is something that appears on many Japanese wooden boats, and dealing with it has been on my mind since this project began. I’m talking about the mooring bits, called the kanzashi. On this boat, they are tapered square posts with a faceted knob at the end.

On the real boat, these were made of honiki, but for a 1/10 scale model, I decided to use a harder wood that I have on hand, some Castello boxwood, which I use in ship modeling all the time, as there is no grain, has a nice tan color, and carves beautifully.

As it turned out, these were pretty easy to make. So much so that I made a pair and decided they were too short and quickly made another pair.

These were large enough that, rather than trying to carve a post to fix them into the mooring beam, I drilled them out and inserted very small birch dowels. These then fit easily and securely into holes drilled into the mooring beam.

The final stage was to lash the mooring beam down to the bow beam directly underneath it. This I did using some excess rigging line from a completed Woody Joe kit. I took about 6 turns around the beams and then wrapped around the waist of the lashing and tied off. I then secured the knot with a little glue and trimmed off the excess line. This holds the mooring beam very securely.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 5

Since we’re still under the stay-at-home order and I have time, I’m plowing ahead with the Himi Tenma. I did manage to get some measurements from Douglas Brooks, but mostly, to verify that my beams are fairly close. Not all exactly like the boat built last Fall, but close enough for this project.

With the beams, or funabari, in place, I went ahead and added the decks at the bow and stern. I don’t recall off hand what the term is for the stern deck, but the bow deck is called the kappa. I fit both decks by first making a templates that I cut to fit as best I could in place of the planks.

I cut three planks to make up each of the decks. For the stern deck, I installed a simple strip of wood onto the transom, or todate, to serve as a shelf for the lower plank ends. That wasn’t necessary at the bow, due to the shape of that deck, which held the planks in place better.

The aft deck turned out well, but I realized later that the bow deck angles downward too much, and is probably smaller on the actual boat. But, it looks fine and I don’t really think there’s any need to redo it.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 4

I started working on planking the hull of the Himi Tenma shortly after my last post. The first thing to do was to cut a cardboard template to the approximate shape of the hull plank.

This was done by taping a piece of cardboard into place on the model. The bottom edge was traced with a pencil onto the cardboard. The shape at the bow was approximated, and the stern end was cut off a little bit long. The top edge was derived by marking the top edge at the ends of the model. I then used a thin wood batten to create a fair curve and traced that shape onto the cardboard template. The template really does not need to be very accurate. It just has to be big enough to work, and a bit oversized is best.

The template can now be used to help select the wood. I try to be efficient as possible and  find a way to get two planks out of the smallest sheet of wood that will work, since the wood I’m using is hard to come by.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

I’m making decent progress on the Himi Tenmasen model and am now working on the kanjiki planks. These are the bottom planks located either side of the heavy, central bottom plank, called the chyou. As I mentioned before, my model will have two kanjiki planks on each side, much like in the tenma drawings, though the boat built last fall actually only used one plank per side. But, this way allows me more efficient use of my wood supply, and if I screw up a plank, I lose less wood. And, while it means more mortises to cut, it also means there is more detail on the model.

Measurements of mortises given are at full size.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 2

Reviewing photos of the Himi Tenma that Douglas Brooks worked on last Fall, I’ve been comparing them with the drawings from the Himi City Museum. There are a number of differences which I’ve marked on a copy of the drawings.

Modified copy of the Tenma drawings provided by the Himi City Museum, shown here with permission of the Himi City Museum.

To match the Himi Tenma built last Fall, the features that I’ve marked with red arrows will need to be omitted from my model. The blue rectangles represent the approximate size and location of beams which will need to be added to the model.

Photo showing the positioning of the overlapping frames. Photo courtesy of Douglas Brooks.

In addition, the other main difference is that if you look at the frames in the drawing, they are offset so that the starboard frames aren’t directly across from the port side frames. However, in the boat built last Fall, the tops of the frames actually sit directly across from each other, but since the frames still overlap one another, they are canted slightly. For now, I’m just making a mental note of these things, and will deal with them when the time comes.

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 1

You might recall that In the Fall of 2019, boat builder Douglas Brooks had developed a project together with Nina Noah of an organization called The Apprenticeshop, to go to Japan and build two traditional Japanese boats with two different Japanese boat builders.

I wrote about modeling the first of the two boats, the Niigata Honryousen, which he had built with Mr. Nakaichi Nakagawa and Nina Noah. But, it’s the second of the two boats that was the main subject of the project. The second boat was the Himi Tenmasen.

Photo by Ben Meader

The Himi Tenmasen, or Himi Tenma, was built by Douglas Brooks and Nina Noah, under the guidance of Mr. Mitsuaki Bansho, a Japanese boatbuilder who was the only one of five brothers to follow in his father’s trade, who was also a boatbuilder. After his father’s passing, Bansho-san primarily built fiberglass boats, but in the past 20 years, he began building boats in traditional Japanese fashion for museums.

The Himi Tenmasen is a typical small boat that was used in fishing and as a general workboat. Similar types were used to ferry cargo and passengers between larger ships and the shore.

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Final

The Honryousen model is done and been sent to its new owner in Washington state.

The blocks at the ends of the hull turned out to be somewhat challenging to make due to a combination of the way they fit notches cut into the hull planks, plus the angle of the tateita, or the bow and stern planks. Also, the blocks have a peak in the center that look best if they are roughly level with the waterline. That’s not always the case in these types of boats as I’ve seen in photos.

The small deck at the stern wasn’t too much of a problem. I began by making a funabari, or beam, which I notched into the hull planking. As there are no fasteners used, the shallow notch I cut was helpful in holding the beam in place. The inward pressure of the hull planks also help to hold it in place. I used a small amount of carpenter’s glue to help secure it, just for good measure.

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Part 4

I’m going to keep this posting short, as it’s kind of a major milestone, with the finishing of the boat’s basic hull shape.

The full-sized honryousen completed and on the water. Photo by Benjamin Meader.

With the hull planks, locally called hoteita (ho-tey-ee-tah), glued into place, the bottom edges of the hull planks were easy to trim, as they just had to be flush with the bottom. For the top edge, I had some measurements to go by, and I used thin strips of wood to use as battens, clamping them into place along the inside of the hull. The top edges of the battens marked the top edges of the hull planks.

With the battens clamped in place, I made adjustments to the height at various locations along the hull. But, the most important thing was to make sure it was a fair curve, Once satisfied with the curves, I marked the hull planks with a pencil line drawn along the top edge of the battens, then started the process of whittling the wood down to that line.

I used a large hobby knife to trim away the bulk of the excess, paying close attention to the wood grain, which wood would split along. When most of the wood was trimmed away, I then used the mini-block plane to do the fine shaping. A little final go with a sanding block cleans up any little variation.

The mostly final curve of the hull. In front of the model, you can see my Japanese squares marked in shaku/sun instead of feet/inches. Also, there’s the miniature block plane I used for the fine trimming.

The next steps of the major construction issues are the addition of the single beam of the boat, and the blocks that fit at each end of the boat. The beams are called funabari, but I don’t know the term for the blocks at the ends of the boat yet. Looking into that now.

These parts are made from a lighter-colored wood on the real boat, though I’m not sure of the exact species. For my model, I’ll use hinoki, which I now have a small supply of.

Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Part 3

Planking the hull is a somewhat tricky process. There are no frames to glue to, so clamps are next to useless, except to hold the former in place. Also, this is an open boat that, like the full-sized boats, will have no finish on it. It’s too small to nail together, so the hull will be held together with wood glue.

CA, or instant glue, will stain the bare wood. If I were to apply a finish on the completed model, I might be able to get away with using CA. But, with unfinished wood, it will mar the model’s appearance. To keep it looking as clean as possible, I’m using yellow carpenter’s glue, which cleans up with water. The only issue is that the parts will need to be held together while the glue sets.

Since I can’t use clamps, tape is being used to hold the planks in place while the glue dries. For this, I’m using low-tack painter’s tape.

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Part 2

Construction of the Honryousen model began with gluing patterns to the wood for the shiki, or hull bottom, and the ottate, which I am told is an informal local term for the bow and transom planks. From an earlier build of a kawabune (riverboat), I learned that the common formal term for the bow plank is omote no tateita and the term for the transom plank is the tomo no tateita.

Honyousen side profile I created in Adobe Illustrator

Patterns were simply printed on large format paper and glued to the wood using rubber cement. This stuff sticks well enough and rubs off pretty cleanly after it has dried.

When I started this project, I wasn’t sure if I needed to build a former for it, like I have for all the other scratch built wasen models I’ve made. The former serves as a temporary backbone and framework that wood hull parts can be clamped to while gluing into place. Instead, I thought I might be able to hold the parts together and band them into position using clamps and such, much like the real boats are constructed.

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