How to build model ships from scratch

Updated February 21, 2017

Building model ships is an exhausting and difficult hobby. Many people who build model ships use kits or plans to make their model. However, it is possible to make model ships from scratch. Building model ships from scratch takes careful planning, creating the right ship parts and carefully gluing them together.

Draw up plans for your model ship. These plans should cover every aspect of your ship, from the frame to the small details. Use a picture of a ship to help you get a full grasp of each part. Your plans should also include a list of all of the handcrafted parts you are going to make as well as how they fit together.

Make your ship parts. Use your modelling knife to carve each part out of your modelling material. Glue any modelling material together to complete your parts. Carve your parts as detailed as possible. Detailed pieces will create a more realistic looking model ship.

Build the frame of your ship. Use thicker pieces of wood to make the beam at the bottom of the boat. Smaller beams should come up from the side of the ship in staggered formation. Glue narrower, thinner pieces of wood to these vertical posts to complete the body.

Build the deck of your boat with the same thinner strips of wood used for the body.

Add the details to your ships. These details will vary depending on your ship. For example, a sailboat will need masts and cloth sails strung up. It will also need strings or small ropes. Battleships will need gun turrets and other battleship details.

Paint your ship. Choose the colour based on the type of ship you are making. You should stain a wooden ship, like a sailboat, instead of painting.

Build a display base for your ship out of heavier wood in order to support the weight of the ship. It should have two or three support beams. These support beams should have a “V” at the end. Glue felt in these “Vs” to avoid scratching the wood. Place your ship in the “Vs” to make sure it fits snugly.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood, toothpicks or plastic modelling material
  • Small modelling knives
  • Wood glue or super glue
  • Paint or wood stain
  • Felt
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About the Author

Eric Benac began writing professionally in 2001. After working as an editor at Alpena Community College in Michigan and receiving his Associate of Journalism, he received a Bachelor of Science in English and a Master of Arts in writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.