How to Build Wood Model Boats

Written by larry simmons
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Building model boats from wood is a hobby enjoyed by millions of people around the world of all ages. Using wood as a building medium, you can recreate boats from any historical period you desire, from early Greek shallow sea vessels to the tall sailing ships of the late 19th century. For those just beginning in the hobby, model boat kits are widely available in a variety of model scales that will allow the new modeler the opportunity to jump right into the hobby and assemble display-quality ships with no experience. It just requires careful attention to detail, the ability to follow instructions, and a steady hand.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Model kit
  • Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Water
  • Hot iron
  • Paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Varnish
  • Display stand

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  1. 1

    Select a model kit of the boat you wish to build. Balsa kits are easily found through most hobby shops and the pieces are usually precut, simplifying the building process.

  2. 2

    Lay out all the model parts on your work surface. Check that all the parts are there and in good condition with no breaks or warped pieces.

  3. 3

    Build the keel and frame of the boat. Begin with the keel piece which is the lowest part of the boat hull, and glue the ribs of the hull to the keel, clamping the pieces in place for drying.

  4. 4

    Sand the frame smooth to prepare the pieces for planking.

  5. 5

    Wet the planks thoroughly to make them more flexible. Begin at the lowest point of the hull, the keel rabbit, and mount each plank to the hull, clamping them into place snugly fitted together. Work upward towards the middle, and then from the deck to the middle, cutting the final plank to fit as necessary. Apply a hot iron to the plank as you place it to the hull to bend it. Allow the planks to dry in place, conforming to the framed hull.

  6. 6

    Glue the planks into place using the cyanoacrylate (CA) glue, working as you did when you fit the planks into place.

  7. 7

    Glue the deck onto the hull frame.

  8. 8

    Sand the surface of the ship smooth, then apply a coat of varnish and leave it for 72 hours to dry.

  9. 9

    Glue the superstructure to the deck of the boat, including the bridge and any other large deck pieces, and then place the rudder with any other outer pieces ,such as a propeller.

  10. 10

    Glue any remaining small detail pieces onto the ship such as guns, hatches, pipes, small boats and stairs. Paint the boat wherever necessary and allow the paint to dry completely.

  11. 11

    Assemble, paint and varnish the ship's masts. Glue the mast to the boat and then rig the sails.

  12. 12

    Mount the ship onto a display stand for viewing.

Tips and warnings

  • Work quickly when gluing the planks as CA glue binds nearly instantly, so once the plank is placed, adjustment time will be minimal.

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