Introduction: A Wooden Fleet for Small Children

About: Steward to about 20,000 trees on 40 acres.

Small children enjoy simple, durable toys they can play with and easily carry around. Using wood leftovers I made about forty small ships for kids to play with on the floor. I have several friends with young children who will enjoy these ships. No batteries needed.



1"x 6" wood. Mine was left over from other projects

1/4" wooden dowel

Wood glue

A variety of paint


Table saw

Band saw

Disc sander





1/4" drill bit

Stiff paper


Paint brushes


Step 1: Making the Hull

The hull blocks, 6" x 2", were cut on the table saw. Based on the size of my raw materials, I drew half of the hull shape on a piece of stiff paper and trimmed it to shape. One half of the hull shape was drawn on a hull block. The paper pattern was flipped and the shape was drawn on the other half of the block. The block was rough cut on the bandsaw and shaped to size using a disc sander. I always do a light sanding on the corners to remove any hanging slivers of wood. This first block served as the pattern for the rest of the fleet.

The rest of the hull blocks were drawn using the pattern and then cut and sanded.

Step 2: The Superstructure and Stack

Most of the superstructure blocks were cut to 1-1/2" wide. They vary in length depending on taste and the type of ship being made.

1/4" holes are drilled in the superstructure blocks to accept the dowel (the stack). To keep the drill bit from "walking" as you start to drill, tap a small hole using a punch and a hammer. Start drilling vertically and once the hole is just started, tilt the drill about 20 degrees to the stern. You can drill all the way through the block or stop at about 1/2" in. Remove any hanging wood from around the hole.

Don't cut the dowel yet. Put a slight 1/2" long taper on the end of the dowel and insert it into the hole drilled in the superstructure block. The dowel is cut at an angle on the band saw.

Repeat for as many hulls as are ready. Vary the size of the superstructure blocks and even the number of stacks. See the flotilla photo in the next step.

Step 3: Finishing

Apply wood glue to the bottom of the dowel and insert it into the superstructure. Make sure the cut top is parallel to the top of the superstructure. Apply glue to the bottom of the superstructure block and press it onto the hull. Clamping is probably not needed.

When the glue is dry, paint the ships in a variety of colors and combinations. Use a small nail to paint the portholes. Dip the head into thinned acrylic paint and apply it to the ship. For the rectangular windows on the front to the superstructure, trim a cork to shape and do the dip and apply to paint the window.

Optional: sign and date each of the ships on the bottom. Pass the ships on to youngsters who can then go to sea as captains of their own ships.