Introduction: Sweeney Todd Boat
Hello! In this Instructable, you'll learn how to build the rowboat showcased at the very beginning of the play "Sweeney Todd".
Disclaimer: This boat is not waterproof in any way. Do not try to use it as an actual boat, please, this is meant to be a prop in a play. It will not work as an actual boat.
Step 1: Step 1: Getting a Sense of Scale
Step One of building your naval masterpiece is creating a 2-D 1:1 ratio paper model of your boat. Don't worry about the height quite yet, this model is just to get a sense of how long and wide it will be. Cut the paper out into your preferred boat-shape and lay it on the ground so you can get a sense of how large it will be, and so you can make any size adjustments necessary before you start building. Try standing up scrap pieces of wood at different heights on the paper to get a sense of how tall you want it to be.
Step 2: Step 2: Creating the Dimensions
Next you'll want to make a plan of exactly how tall, long, and wide your boat is with exact measurements and a cut list. Our boat was approximately 2 feet tall (the height of the boat varied in different places) and had a rib cage made of plywood with a backbone running the length of the boat and ribs extending out to the measurements depicted above, to give it a boat-y curve, but you can use whatever measurements that you need to for your uses.
Step 3: Step 3: Designing the Pieces
Design the exact proportions and measurements of your desired ribs/backbone/other boat bits on your drawing software of choice to either print out or send directly to a computer that will cut everything on its own. We made two backbone pieces and ribs with varying width so our end product would be curvy as boats usually are, as well as a back and a base to put inside of it that the actors could walk and stand on while they're doing their thing.
Step 4: Step 4: Cutting the Pieces Out
Now that you have your plan, you can start cutting out all of your pieces. We used a mechanical, computerized cutter that read the file we made the plans on directly and cut from that, but if you're not part of the lucky group of technical directors/hobbyists who have that fancy machinery, you can cut the pieces using a jigsaw, but make sure you're very careful. You wouldn't want your boat to become crooked or lumpy due to a cutting error. If you're cutting with a computer of some sort, congrats, as long as everything lines up with the file you're using and the machine itself, your pieces should be good to go in not too long.
Step 5: Step 5: Put the Pieces Together
Using larger nails/screws along with strong wood glue beforehand so it doesn't fall apart, attach your pieces to each other in whatever way you originally planned. Now you should have a roughly boat-shaped 'skeleton' that will serve as a base for the outside part of it that people will actually see. We placed smaller ~4" by 4" blocks in between doubles of each rib that we made to make each 'rib section' a bit thicker and to put a small gap in between the ribs.
Step 6: Step 6: Cut the Outside Strips
Next you want to cut the outside strips that really make the boat look like a boat. We used 8' long 4" wide strips of luan cut with a table saw so that we could curve them around the perimeter of the boat. Don't worry about painting quite yet, we'll get to that later.
Step 7: Step 7: Attach the Wheels
A small step, but a crucial one. Attach castors parallel to the ribs (to make sure your boat will roll straight) with large, strong button-head bolts on the bottom of your boat.
Step 8: Step 8: Attach the Luan to the Skeleton
With staples, wood glue, and a good-looking amount of overlap, (We overlapped 1 inch for each 4-inch strip) attach the luan strips to your skeleton. Make sure that each strip is as tight to the skeleton as it can be, otherwise your boat will be lumpy on the sides and it will look bad. Also make sure that you can't see the skeleton above the luan strips - They should reach above the skeleton pieces by at least an inch or so.
Step 9: Step 9: Cleanup
Cut off any overhanging strips of luan on the front and back of the boat, scrape off any excess, visible glue on the outside, sand any rough edges and remove/hammer in any stray staples to give your boat some polish.
Step 10: Step 10: Add a Figurehead
All smaller boats need something to wrap a rope around to tether them to a dock, and yours is no different. Attach a figurehead of some sort to the front of your boat in a way that suits your design/build, and polish it like you did the rest of the boat.
Step 11: Step 11: Painting the Boat
Use whatever paint or wood stain you need to make this boat look the way you want it to. We were going for an old and cruddy sort of look, so we painted it a darker greyish-brown with black on the very bottom in case anyone in the balcony saw the base.
Step 12: Step 12: Add a Seat
Last step! Add a seat to your boat somewhere near the middle (Preferably a real one, not my badly edited-in one because I couldn't find the picture) so that your actors can sit down and 'row' the boat while it's rolled across the stage.
If you've completed this step, congratulations!! You've built yourself a boat, good job! Have fun with your new boat!
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