How to Make Model Paddle Boats

Written by will milner
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How to Make Model Paddle Boats
Model action similar to this venerable old steamer. (raddampfer in leba image by Falkenauge from

The image of a paddle boat working its way up a river evokes thoughts of an age gone by, of Huckleberry Finn's and Tom Sawyer's adventures on the Mississippi. Bring these worlds to life for you or your children with this charmingly simple model paddle boat. Get ready for adventure and expect the unexpected. Try making several and racing them against each other.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Saw
  • Short, thick rubber band
  • Wood glue
  • 1-inch thick plywood board, 4 by 9 inches in size
  • 1/4-inch thick plywood board, 5 by 6 inches in size
  • Pencil
  • Compass
  • Ruler
  • Small blocks of scrap wood and round dowel

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  1. 1

    Set the compass to four inches and press the point of the compass into the long side of the 1-inch thick plywood, four inches from the end. Draw an arc towards the closest end. Press the compass point into the wood on the other long side and draw an intersecting arc.

  2. 2

    At the other end of the piece of wood, measure half an inch in from each side. From each mark, draw a vertical line 3.5 inches long and join them together with a horizontal line. This will make a square section to be cut out from the back of the boat.

  3. 3

    Cut along all the lines you have drawn and sand the finished piece. Stick the round dowel vertically onto the deck of the boat to make funnels and use scrap pieces to make the pilot house.

  4. 4

    Cut the 1/4-inch board in half to make two 3- by 2.5-inch pieces. Cut a 1/4-inch slot in the middle of the long side of each piece 1.25 inches long. Glue and slot the two pieces together. Leave to dry.

  5. 5

    Paint the boat to your preferred design.

  6. 6

    Slip the rubber band around the centre of the X you have made with the two joined pieces of 1/4-inch board. Position the X between the two pieces which protrude from the back of the body of the boat and slip the rubber band over each of these two protruding pieces. Twist the X, which is now the paddle, backwards against the direction the boat will travel, until the rubber band is tightly wound around its middle.

  7. 7

    Put it into the water, release the paddle, and look at it go!

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