Space Shuttle Model




Introduction: Space Shuttle Model

Over the years I have built a small collection of wooden NASA rockets. Recently I decided to add the space shuttle including the fuel tank and boosters to my collection. This is not a difficult project, and can be done with hand tools, although a drill press and belt sander will definitely make it easier.

The materials used in this project were as follows:

- a 1x2 piece of pine approximately 6 inches long for the body of the shuttle

- a scrap of 1/4 inch plywood for the shuttle wings

- a 2 inch dowel for the fuel tank

- a 5/8th inch dowel for the boosters

- a 4x5 inch piece of wood for the base

- glue

- wood stain

- polyurethane varnish

Step 1: Make Your Pattern

There are a lot of images of the shuttle on the internet. Find one that shows all the sides of the shuttle, take measurements, and use these to scale your model. I decided I wanted the fuel tank to be 10 inches tall, so I scaled everything based on the size of the tank.

Step 2: Shaping the Fuel Tank and Boosters

Cut the 2 inch dowel and the 5/8th inch dowels to length.

The most time consuming step of this project is shaping the nose of the fuel tank (see 2nd photo). If you have access to a wood lathe, this is easy. Sadly, I don't, so I shaped the nose using a belt sander, followed by a lot of hand sanding.

Once the nose of the fuel tank is shaped, do the same for the two booster rockets. Because of their smaller diameter, shaping these using a belt sander goes quick.

By the way, if you use a sander to shape these pieces, it is better for the sander to be stationary so you can rotate the dowels as you shape them.

Step 3: Attach the Boosters to the Fuel Tank

Mark the fuel tank as to where you want to mount the boosters (based on the drawing you are using). Remember, you will want the boosters to be even vertically, and mounted on each side of the fuel tank, so mark their placement carefully.

I chose to use 1/4 inch dowels in mounting these boosters, but you could simply glue them. I used dowels so I could make sure they stayed aligned while the glue was drying.

Step 4: Drill a Mounting Hole

Since the shuttle will be mounted vertically, drill a mounting hole in the bottom of the fuel tank. I drilled a 5/8th inch hole and used a scrap piece of the dowels used for the boosters for mounting. This dowel will fit into the base shown on the next step.

Step 5: Make the Base

For the base I used a 4x5 inch piece of lumber. Drill a 5/8th inch hole in the center, but don't drill it all the way through. Since I needed more depth in the base than a 1/2 piece of lumber allowed, I glued a smaller piece to the base before drilling the hole.

Step 6: Make the Shuttle

I didn't take photos as I made the actual shuttle, but it is fairly simple. Use the photos of the craft you downloaded from the internet and scaled up (or down) to draw your plans.

I used a 1x2 piece of pine for the body and a scrap of 1/4 inch plywood for the wings and rudder. The side engines were from small scraps of dowels and simply glued on. The side engines next to the rudder were made from 1/2 inch dowels, and the three engine nozzles at the back were made from 3/16th's dowels and inserted into three holes at the back.

The rudder is glued into a small slot I cut into the back of the body.

The wing glues onto the bottom of the shuttle body. I made a cutout in order to recess the wing, but you could simply attach it to the bottom without a cutout.

Step 7: Fit Everything Together

Sand everything you have built, and mount the fuel tank/boosters to the base. Make sure it is aligned straight and glue it together.

Next, mount the shuttle craft to the fuel tank. I used dowels, but if you are careful you could just glue it. Since it is easier to keep it aligned while the glue is drying, using dowels makes it easy.

Step 8: You're Almost Finished!

I stained everything then applied two coats of varnish, lightly sanding between coats.

Step 9: Add It to Your Collection!

I've made models of several rockets. I try to keep each of these to the same scale, so when they're lined up they show relative sizes. From left to right is the space shuttle, Falcon 9 Heavy, the new SpaceX Starship (without the booster), Atlas V, and Saturn V.

I've enjoyed making each of these and have them displayed in my office.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable, and good luck making stuff!

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7 months ago on Step 9

Kudos, Very classy choice and complement to historic space endeavors. You're a truely talented artisan !!


7 months ago

Very nicely done! Love the dark colour :)