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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

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