You're currently on the U.S. site. Canadian/International customers visit bearmountainboats.ca 🇨🇦

In Minute Detail: Jon Evans' Scale Model Workshop

A scale model VW bus and wooden canoe sit on a desk with a camera positioned nearby

When Jon Evans first sent us his scale model photographs, we thought he had the subject line mixed up. He said he'd built a scale model Redbird using an older kit of ours, but the canoe appeared to be sitting in a well-appointed, full-size workshop. On closer inspection, we realized Jon had not only built a handsome model canoe—he'd situated it in a charming and painstakingly detailed diorama. His unique twist on the canoe builder's photo essay deserved more space that we could give in a simple social media post, so we asked Jon to elaborate on his setup. 


This short article is intended to provide some background information on a model canoe that I recently built, and the diorama that I photographed it in.

The model is a Bear Mountain Boats 1/12th scale Redbird canoe, and during the course of the build I kept a photographic record entirely in 1/12th scale. Matt at Bear Mountain Boats invited me to say a bit more about the build, so here goes:

I have been kayaking and canoeing for over forty-five years, and making models for longer than that. A particular interest of mine is Greenland-style sea kayaking, and in recent years I’ve made a few 1/6th scale Greenland kayaks, so I’m not new to modelling in wood. I had found Bear Mountain’s website during my internet browsing for information on wooden kayaks and canoes, so I was aware of their 1/12th scale kits. I had no intention of working in that scale, but then, by chance, I spotted a Bear Mountain Redbird kit on eBay here in the UK for a bargain price. Of course, I couldn’t resist it. eBay, combined with my poor self-control, is the main reason I own a significantly more than adequate number of kayaks and models of all descriptions.

Building motorcycle models in 1/6th scale has been a passion of mine for many years, and in support of that I’d built a 1/6th scale garage diorama to photograph them in.

A scale model motorcycle sits in a diorama garage
One finished and one partially complete Greenland kayak scale model, in a diorama workshop

 

When I came to build 1/6th scale kayaks, photographing the build process in the garage seemed the obvious thing to do. As I’ve also produced a 1/12th scale garage diorama to enhance my car modelling, it just naturally followed that I’d record the canoe build in there.

I built the Redbird pretty much in accordance with the very clear and detailed Bear Mountain instructions, with two deviations that I can think of. Rather than cut the scuppers out of the inwales, I used blocks stuck to the hull, which seems to be a common full-size practice. I thought that would be easier, and a way to mix up the woods a bit to give some colour variation. I wanted to have seats rather than just thwarts, but decided that producing cane seats was likely to be a bit of a fiddle, so I copied the webbing seat in my own Old Town canoe. I initially gloss varnished the interior, but that tended to highlight the irregularities between the planking that I hadn’t been able to remove. A matte varnish gave a more pleasing effect.

As the kit I had was over twenty years old, I didn’t chance using the resin that came with it, as the thought of trying to clean uncured resin off the model was too scary. I may have been overly cautious, but since I had similar West System material in stock from a recent kayak project it was easy to avoid that risk.

The whole build process, and my online research to support it, was enjoyable and a valuable insight into the methods used in producing a wood strip canoe. I would like to build a full-size wood strip canoe one day, but in the meantime, I plan to put my new-found skills to use on a 1/6th scale canoe, which I reckon will be easier than the smaller scale. Another advantage with 1/6th scale is that I have a variety of figures that I use for on the water action shots, some of which would work well in a canoe. Obviously, I’d have to keep a 1/6th scale build record of that canoe in the 1/6th scale garage.

-Jon Evans

A scale model workbench with mock canoe plans and hand tools on it
A scale model strongback for canoe building with canoe molds beside it
A scale model canoe strongback with a scale model workshop visible in the background
A partially planked scale model canoe beside a scale model vintage car
Overhead view of partially planked scale model canoe and model car
A scale model canoe in the fibreglassing stage with a scale model car behind it
A scale model VW bus with a wooden canoe on top of it
Scale model VW bus beside a scale model canoe
Scale model canoe sitting on a scale
A collection of five scale model kayaks arrayed beside the water

Related Posts

Builder Stories: Steve Shergold's Ranger 15 with Wannigan
Photos of Steve Shergold's Ranger 15 attracted a lot of attention when we shared them on social media. The canoe itse...
Read More
Machining the Planking (Kayakcraft Excerpt)
The following is an excerpt from Kayakcraft by Ted Moores. Click here to order the complete edition. Machining the P...
Read More
Adventures in Composite Canoe Building, Part III: Hyde and Cheryl
Randy Pfeifer maintains the Bear Mountain Boats Builders' Forum and is highly knowledgeable on the subject of woodstr...
Read More