Introduction: Wooden Toy Boat

About: I run the STEAM programme and Makerspace at an international school in Singapore.

This was my first attempt at making a traditional wooden toy boat. A friend needed it for a kids' workshop she was running and it was great excuse for a fun afternoon in the shop.

Step 1: Make the Template

I installed the "Bezier Spline" plugin for SketchUp and used that to create a template that I would use for cutting out the basic shape of the boat. I printed it out and used a spray adhesive to glue it to a 2" thick piece of recycled wood that I had laying around. I like the Scotch brand repositionable adhesive. The nozzle never gets gummed up like some others that I have tried and it's easy to peel it up and stick it back down if you aren't sure exactly where you want it to go.

Step 2:

Step 3: Rough Cutting

I have a tabletop miter saw that is pretty handy for projects like this. It's a small table saw and miter saw in one. I used the table saw on top to rip the board to width and then popped it open and used the miter saw underneath to cut it closer to shape.

Step 4: Shaping

I built a simple jig a while back so that my belt sander can either lay on its back or be turned on its side with a little platform for sanding straight edges. (I got the idea from seeing this post by John Heisz on the forums.) My sander is a Maktec that it came with a mounting bracket to make this a lot easier to do.)

So with the sander turned on its side, I was able to smooth the edge into shape.

Next, I used a rounding-over bit with a bearing on my router table to soften the edge of the base a bit more. Then went back to the belt sander, this time with it on its back, to get the final shape of the bottom of the boat. I imagine that this could be also be done with a hand plane but it worked out pretty well this way, albeit with a lot of dust.

The router table, for anyone who is interested, just pops in and out of my Black & Decker Workmate. I was really happy to discover that a 2x4 sits in the gap perfectly, so it has been really easy to build a whole bunch of modules that can fit easily and securely on there.

Step 5: The Top

I printed a second template and cut out the middle to make the top of the boat. I put this on a piece on 1/2" plywood and cut it out with a jigsaw. I drilled a few holes in the middle to make things easier when cutting the curves. Then I put it back on the router table with the same round-over bit to smooth the inside.

I glued it to the bottom part and tacked it with a couple of nails, then did the outside edge of the top on the router table Since there was a bearing on the router bit, I didn't have to worry about taking off too much. With a little more sanding, it came out nicely.

Note that while putting the top piece on at this point made it easier to shape it, it made it much more difficult to paint. At the very least, I probably should have painted the inside edge, That way I wouldn't have had to muck about with the masking tape later on.

Step 6: Painting

With masking tape and some patience, I did the top. Then flipped the whole thing over and used a spray lacquer for the bottom. I'm not thrilled with the glossy look though. Next time, I would use matte for sure.

Step 7: The Mast

I used a drill bit about the same diameter as my dowel and pressed the end of dowel against it to get a bit of a curve so they would fit together without a gap. Then I started with a tiny pilot hole and worked up through a couple of drill bits so make sure I wouldn't split the dowel with the screw. I used a countersink so the screw would sit nicely in the hole and together with a little glue, it held really well.

I put a piece of masking tape on the drill bit when I drilled the hole to insert the mast. This helped ensure that I drilled to the correct depth. I didn't glue the mast in. I got a pretty good friction fit and it could be taken apart if needed.

I also drilled tiny holes in the ends of the dowels for thread to go through to hold the sail but as you can see, I ended up sewing a sail that slid over the mast after the first one came off a few times. Maybe next time, I will make the sail out of stronger stuff and use grommets in the corners.

This was a fun project to do and using what I've learned and a lot of what I still have to learn, I hope to make another one with my own kids (more hand tools, less power tools). I never actually tested this one in the water (it was meant to be ornamental) so it should be interesting...