How to build a tiny viking ship

Updated April 17, 2017

A way to honour your Viking heritage or to celebrate history is by making a tiny Viking ship. This ship is suitable for building inside of very small bottles or other containers as a gift or to be used in creative ways. This ship could even be used as a cake decoration (as long as nobody tries to eat it).

Squeeze a thin layer of craft glue on one side of a craft stick. Place another craft stick on top of the first. Add another layer of glue and another craft stick. Repeat the process until the stack is 1 inch high. Allow the glue to dry.

Get a reference picture of a Viking ship. It will typically look like a wide and shallow canoe with the ends upturned into curls. This is the look that you will imitate by using your rotary tool's sanding disk on the wood.

Sand a deep dip into the craft stick stack so that you make a shape like a half pipe that skaters use. Enlarge and elongate this dip so that it is 3 inches long and the entire width of the craft stick. Leave 3/8 inch at the base of the stack (restricting how deep the dip goes) for the hull or body of the boat. Cut off the craft stick at a 1/2 inch on each side of the dip.

Where the dip starts to curve up, taper the sides gradually, then sharply inward at the ends. Shave underneath the boat upward toward the upturned ends with the blade of a hobby knife. Leave small disks of wood hanging outwards from the tips of the upturned ends (bowsprit) at each end of the boat. Cut the disks so that they curl, like the head of a fiddle. Shave the underside of the boat again with the hobby knife to give it a gradual curve upward from side to side before it merges with the shallow sides.

Sand the boat down so that it is smooth. Use the hobby knife to cut in desired details like individual boards and designs. Use the cutting disk on the rotary tool to round and then cut off the end of a craft stick to resemble a miniature shield. Make enough of these so that they cover the entire length of the ship on both sides at the top edge of the bow where the rowers will sit.

Cut the oars from craft sticks with the hobby knife according to your tastes. They should be longer and more slender than oars used in a row boat (both the paddle and the handle). Sand the oars down to make them look authentic.

Stick a toothpick into the deck as a mast and glue it in place. Cut a piece of paper that you decorate so that it is a square that is the same length and width as the toothpicks. Crumple the sail so that the paper looks authentically like a sail. Glue a toothpick at the top edge of the piece of paper at the two far ends. Shape the paper so that it curls below the toothpick. Glue the top of the mast to the centre of the toothpick on the sail.

Use the wood stain pen to stain all wood. Add a thin layer of clear nail polish over the wood stain once it is dry. Use the tempura paint to paint the shields before gluing them onto the ship. Glue the oars so that there is one sticking out of the boat (into the area where the water would be) below each shield.


You can hold the boat firmly in some vice grip pliers. If there are indentations made by the pliers, just make sure that the indentation is either somewhere inconspicuous or at a location where it will be covered by shields.


This boat is small and can fly out of the vice grip pliers of vice at any time, so make sure that it is in there firmly and do not let the rotary tool come in contact with whatever you are using to hold the wood steady. Read and follow all instructions that come with your tools. Wear goggles and a safety mask at all times during this project. Beware of moving parts and sharp objects.

Things You'll Need

  • Craft sticks resembling Popsicle sticks (one box)
  • Craft glue (one bottle)
  • Rotary tool (such as a Dremel)
  • Sand paper (1,200-grit)
  • Hobby knife
  • Toothpicks (one box)
  • Sheet of paper (8 1/2 by 11 inches, blank, white computer)
  • Wood stain pen
  • Clear nail polish
  • Tempura paint (nontoxic)
  • Vice grip pliers
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