Introduction: How to Make a Paper Boat That Floats


Making a paper boat can be challenging and fun. It can also be disappointing when you put your boat in the water and it quickly gets soaked and sinks. We have come up with an instruction set with 14 steps to make a more durable paper boat that will float better and last longer. And it only takes 7-12 minutes to make!

Step 1: Materials

  • One sheet of paper (8.5x11 inches).
  • Wax (Murray’s BEESWAX. It can be found in the hair aisle and purchased for ~$2).
  • Gloves, wax can stick to you (optional).
  • Newspaper, wax can stick everywhere (optional)!
  • Calm body of water.
  • Warning: Be careful not to get a paper cut!
  • Disclaimer: Does not sail well in rough waters. Will eventually sink.

Step 2: Set Your Midline by Folding in Half

  1. Take your sheet of paper and fold it long ways (hot dog style).
  2. Unfold your paper to reveal the crease running down the middle of the page.

Step 3: Fold in Half (Hamburger Fold)

  1. Fold the sheet of paper in half from short side to short side (hamburger style). Don’t unfold it!

Step 4: Fold Corners in to Make a Triangle

  1. Turn the folded paper so that the opening is facing you.
  2. Fold down the top left and right corners until they meet at the middle crease to form a triangle shape.
  3. There should be two flaps at the bottom of the paper that aren’t covered by the triangle.

Step 5: Fold Flaps to Make a Paper Hat

  1. One at a time, fold the bottom flaps at the base of the triangle up over the triangle shape.
  2. Each flap should be folded in opposite directions. The resulting structure should resemble a paper hat (above right).

Step 6: Folding the Corner Flaps

  1. There should be four small corner flaps, two in front and two in back.
  2. Fold each corner flap along the edge of the triangle so that no corner flap is sticking out.
  3. The whole paper should form a triangle shape by the end of this step.

Step 7: Folding the Triangle to Make a Square

  1. Open up the bottom of the triangle.
  2. Make the corners of the triangle meet. Hint: The corners with the folded flaps.
  3. Squish the paper together to make a square and press down along the creases to keep the square shape.

Step 8: Fold Square Into a Triangle

  1. Two triangle-shaped flaps form the opening. Arrange the square like a diamond so that the opening is facing you.
  2. Fold each flap so that the bottom corner of the diamond meets the top corner of the diamond. Flaps should be folded in opposite directions.
  3. The paper should form an even smaller triangle!

Step 9: Fold the Triangle to Make a Square AGAIN!

  1. Similar to step 7, open the bottom opening of the triangle and make the corners meet.
  2. Squish the paper together to make a square.
  3. Press down along the creases so that the square keeps it shape.

Step 10: Boat Reveal!

  1. At this point, the square is divided in half by a diagonal opening.
  2. One corner of the square can be pulled apart. Gently, pull this corner apart to widen the diagonal opening and reveal the boat!

Step 11: Flatten and Work Out the Kinks

  1. Press down on the bottom crease so that the paper looks like a flat trapezoid with just the tip of a triangle visible from the middle.

Step 12: Wax On!

  1. Lay down newspaper and put on gloves (optional).
  2. Using your fingers, spread a coat of wax onto the exterior surface of the boat. Wax from the bottom of the boat up to an inch above the bottom of the boat.
  3. Apply wax liberally to both sides of the boat and edges.

Step 13: Add Wax on the Inside

  1. Once the outside has a coat of wax, open up the bottom of the boat and spread a coat of wax onto the interior surface of the boat. Wax from the bottom of the boat up to an inch above the bottom of the boat.
  2. Apply liberally. Remember, the better you coat, the less leaks there will be!

Step 14: Make the Boat Stand

  1. After waxing the boat, use your thumbs to widen the bottom gap of the boat.
  2. Try to make the boat stand upright on a flat surface. If it stands straight on the table, it should stand straight in the water!
  3. Hint: Try to make the triangle that juts out of the middle of the boat into a pyramid shape.

Step 15: Set Sail!

  1. Once the boat can stand, gently place your boat on a calm body of water.
  2. Watch the boat float! Great for bathtubs, sinks, fountains, or, you know, whatever floats your boat!