How to make a mini sailboat for a school project

Written by brenton shields
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How to make a mini sailboat for a school project
A mini sailboat can propel itself through water like a full-size sailboat. (sailboat image by jimcox40 from

Building a mini sailboat for an elementary or middle school project can teach students about construction, navigation and water physics. Building a tiny, makeshift sailboat is not a difficult task and simply requires a flat piece of balsa wood about an inch thick and some other rudimentary equipment you probably have lying around your house but can provide hours of enjoyment for children wishing to build and/or race them.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Balsa wood sheet, one inch thick, two inches wide, four inches long
  • Utility knife
  • Sand paper
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Hot glue gun
  • 2 wooden dowels
  • Metal washer
  • Craft stick
  • Square cloth, four inches by four inches

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  1. 1

    Cut the bow of the boat by slicing one end of the balsa wood sheet into a point, creating a triangular tip at the front, with the utility knife.

  2. 2

    Sand down the balsa wood, particularly where you cut it in Step 1, until it is nice and smooth.

  3. 3

    Twist a tiny whole using the screwdriver into the middle of the top of the balsa wood sheet. The hole should be about a quarter of an inch deep.

  4. 4

    Inject some hot glue into the hole and then press one end of the wooden dowel into it so that it is standing straight up. This dowel will serve as your mast.

  5. 5

    Glue the craft stick to the mast about halfway up at a right angle. This will serve as the boom and will help hold the sail.

  6. 6

    Cut the cloth into a small triangle using the utility knife and then glue it to the mast and boom, creating your sail. The bottom portion of the triangle should be glued to the craft stick while the side should be glued to the mast.

  7. 7

    Glue a metal washer to one end of another wooden dowel. This will serve as the keel and ballast in the proceeding steps.

  8. 8

    Twist a small hole, about a half-inch deep, into the bottom of your boat and near the middle (though not directly underneath the mast) and inject some hot glue into it.

  9. 9

    Push the end of the keel and ballast away from the washer into the hole and hold it until the glue dries and it is secure. This will make sure the boat does not capsize.

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