Drawing the Ship’s Frame Plan


'De Delft' is being reconstructed as much as possible as a close-replica of the original ship of the line DELFT. For building 'De Delft' the very first starting point is the original Build Order, Swaerte der Scheepsdeele voor scheepen van Oorlog (The Size of Ship’s Parts for Warships) from 1771 by Pieter van Zwijndrecht Pauluszoon. He was one of the first naval architects to use naval architecture drawings to help establish the basic types of the ships of the lines. In the 18th century various types of ships were built using Van Zwijndrecht’s drawings, a frame plan and a longitudinal cross section. The dimensions and proportions list was drafted by the Admiralty 1788.

In addition to Van Zwijndrecht’s drawings, the original ‘specification’ that still remains from the real DELFT and which shows the sizes of the DELFT is also being used for building 'De Delft'.

Materials and tools

Many modern yards use a computer to produce their drawings and calculations. For building 'De Delft' paper and pencil, tracing paper and 'plastic' paper (polyester film, is dimensionally more stable) are used, on which amendments can still be made. The drawing room also has various rulers, try squares, compasses, setsquares and Copenhagen ship curves in all sorts of shapes. For converting sizes and scales there is a scale and a conversion scale from feet to millimetres. For drawing curved lines there are drawing weights (weights that contain a hook for guiding a flexible lath) and various marking laths made from pearwood or perspex. There is also a cabinet with large flat drawers for storing all of the drawings.


The draughtsman who wants to draw and calculate a ship’s frame plan proceeds as follows:

  • The draughtsman draws a grid of vertical lines and horizontal watermark lines on a sheet of tracing paper. The screen of the grid is checked using a pair of dividers. The grid is drawn as a mirror image on the reverse side of the paper because when the grid has been drawn the paper is turned over. In this way the grid remains visible and undamaged when the lines and amendments are made to the grid.

  • The draughtsman can then start drawing the frames on the front of the tracing paper, over the grid. The Copenhagen ships curves and the marking laths and drawing weights are used for drawing the round and curved shapes of the frames.

  • To make a ship’s frame plan, construction drawings (with dimensioned drawings) are made for all of the ship’s frames.

  • After the frame plan has been drawn the draughtsman produces a longitudinal cross section, which shows, in addition to the sheer, the location of the frames, the decks and deck beams, gratings and hatches as well as the location of the masts.
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Tools Required

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Materials Required

See 'Materials and Tools' in main text