Model Ships

You were 11 years old, and the cover of the box featured a battleship churning upon a raging sea, guns firing with fury. You opened the package, revealing hundreds of plastic pieces, and readied your handy tube of cement. Making that scene come to life was in your hands, and you bent your head to the task.

If this memory makes you smile, you're a prime candidate for a promotion to high-end ship modeling, in which wood and metal replace plastic, some techniques are borrowed from actual shipbuilding and the detail replicates tall ships and other vessels to far more sophisticated levels. It can take months, but in the end you've created a work of art.

BlueJacket Shipcrafters Inc., founded in 1905, calls itself the oldest maker of models in the United States. BlueJacket's pride and joy, a model of the U.S.S. Constitution (the undefeated warship called "Old Ironsides," pictured) is meant for expert craftsmen. Replicating the ship in its 1812 heyday took three years of researching deck logs and maintenance records to get right. The kit consists of 2,600 metal fittings and 20 different sizes of rigging cord, not to mention the myriad pieces of wood. Not just gluing, but sanding, cutting, clamping and bending are all part of the job as well.

"A competent modeler," says owner W. "Nic" Damuck, "will take 500 to 750 hours to build it." The kit sells for $650; having BlueJacket put it together, an option the company provides, makes the price jump to $12,500. But some kits are meant for newer modelers and smaller budgets. A simple, barebones skiff (suitable for your own young ones) can be had for $35.

At BlueJacket, 16 workers build the kits and models, crafting 95 percent of the products in house. Many of the kits have solid wooden hulls. But a more intricate and maddening option—called plank-on-frame construction—involves attaching individual boards to the hull's skeleton.

BlueJacket offers dozens of models, including replicas of power vessels and models that can be radio controlled. Have a yacht of your own? The company can build a scale version, down to the last detail.

Damuck has owned BlueJacket for two years, but he has been around the company for decades. "I've been a BlueJacket customer for over 30 years," he says. His father gave him his first model some 60 years ago.

The finished product shouldn't be left unprotected. "Fine ship models really should be cased," Damuck advises, to keep away dust, grime or wayward cats. His company also does a brisk business in model repair.

Visit bluejacketinc.com.

Fun Good Life Guide

More in The Good Life

See all
Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce in all its glory.

Oct 24, 2019
Baseball At 150: Five Problems

Baseball At 150: Five Problems

Major league baseball turned 150 years old this year. But the game is far from perfect.

Oct 15, 2019
Smoke The Cigar of the Year for a Good Cause

Smoke The Cigar of the Year for a Good Cause

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, the maker of Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the Year, will be in New York City …

Sep 24, 2019
Babe Ruth Sets Yet Another Record With $5.6 Million Jersey Sale

Babe Ruth Sets Yet Another Record With $5.6 Million Jersey Sale

Babe Ruth's New York Yankees road jersey, dated between 1928 and 1930, sold at auction for $5.64 …

Aug 22, 2019
Car-Themed Watch Auction For Monterey Car Week

Car-Themed Watch Auction For Monterey Car Week

Bidding for Watches Online: The Driver’s Collection will open on August 14 and run through August 20.

Aug 14, 2019
End-of-Summer Mixing With Vodka

End-of-Summer Mixing With Vodka

Mixing it up with vodka.

Jul 2, 2019