Parents and children have built wooden pirate ships for many generations. Boat-building ranges from tooth pick masts inside walnut shells to remote-control models. Model shipbuilding still captures the imagination of little boys and girls. It is quite a challenge to build a wooden ship that floats. You can build one from scratch or rebuild a wooden ship that is already working. In the spirit of the pirates, we're going to hijack a model ship from a yard sale and convert it into the terror of the high seas.
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Things you need
- Pirate-ship picture
- Model ship
- Paint stripper
- Acrylic paint or wood stain
- Model ship glue
- Utility knife
Buy an old model ship at a yard sale, flea market or antique store. You can choose any style of wooden pirate ship that you like for the boatbuilding.
Strip the old model ship of any broken lines, sails, railings or other parts. If you need to modify the hull, strip the paint as well and use balsam wood to fix any holes or build up the hull. Use model ship glue especially for boatbuilding repairs below the water line.
On at least the main deck, take a very sharp utility knife and carve out at least eight square gun ports on either side of the ship, plus one large one for the stern of the ship, if it's a galley. Cut 2- or 3-inch off the dowels and paint them in gunmetal black, with the ends sticking out the ports to simulate guns or canons.
Cover the hull of the wooden pirate ship with water-resistant paint or stain. Stain is good for an aged look. Use a gold paint for the trim on galleys from the 1600s to the 1800s; or, if it's a 1900 streamlined schooner, paint the trim in a nonreflective dark colour to avoid detection at night.
Replace broken masts or add new ones to the wooden pirate ship with dowels that match the existing mast, and sand down the top of the new mast until it's identical.
Repair the lines and halyards with heavy cotton thread or a fine jute. Use the glue to keep these in place. However, if this is a working model with sails that can be hoisted, do not use glue on any of the moving parts.
Paint the ship’s colours on the short sail of the main mast. The Jolly Roger or a Skull and Cross Bones is a favourite emblem used by pirates. This is an opportunity for you to be creative with your boatbuilding, so come up with your own colours that will turn men’s hearts to ice once they're raised.
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