Introduction: How to Carve a Flax Boat
Today I am going to show you how to carve a flax boat out of a New Zealand flax seed stalk and a few of its leaves. This seed stalk is a light-weight material that has a hard outer layer with soft wood in the center.
The main tool you will need for this project is a small knife.
Step 1: Getting the Flax Seed Stalk and Leaves
To remove the stalk from the plant use your hands to twist it around - the base should snap off. Then rip off the dead leaves. To harvest flax leaf's, reach into the plant with a pair of scissors and cut a wide leaf off. We will be using these as our boat sails.
Step 2: Cut Into Lengths
Use a saw to mark the stick. From the thicker end I marked out two 400 millimeter lengths, one length 180 millimeters long (for the sails), and 2 lengths 160 millimeters long. Use the back stroke of your saw to cut the stronger outer layer of flax stalk. Do this all the way around the outside then the long hair like strands of wood won't all pull out and weaken the boat's frame.
Step 3: Cutting Out the Slots
Use a small knife (I used my pocket knife), to cut out two holes from the side of the 400 millimeter long lengths. In all you will need to cut out four round slots. I cut mine 100 millimeters from each end of the stick.
Now it's time to assemble the base of your boat. Use your hands to slide the two short 160 millimeter long lengths of flax stalk into the cut out holes.
Remember whenever you use a knife always be mindful in which direction it is cutting. Always cut away from yourself.
Step 4: Cutting Out the Seats
Even though this boat is small it should still be big enough to house a few seats. Here I am cutting out the seat compartments. Cut two slits down the length of the boat. Try not to slice above the cross supports as this will weaken them. Next cut two side slits in the wood to make a rectangular compartment. Use the blade of your knife to carefully lever out this section. Remember you don't want to bend your knife blade. Do this for the other five compartments.
Step 5: Smoothing Out the Edges
Use your knife to cut straight lines out of the edges of the seat compartment...this will make it smoother.
Step 6: Nearly Finished
Decide which end of your boat looks like the front, then taper the ends by trimming off the wood with your knife.
Step 7: Making the Sails
For the sails you will need that last 180 millimeter section of flax stalk. Use your knife to whittle off lengths of the bark to use as a mast for the sail. Prepare the flax leaf by cutting off the unusable pieces, such as the split ends.
Step 8: Trimming the Sail Into Shape
Use the point of your knife to piece a slit in a section of flax leaf and poke this onto a small sliver of flax bark. Then use scissors to trim your sail into a triangle sail shape. At this point it might look a bit like a small tree.
Step 9: Add the Sail to Your Boat
Here I am finishing the second sail and then putting them both on the boat. I did this by piecing both cross sections on the boat with my knife, and then inserting the flax sails.
Step 10: Completed and Ready for the Water
As a final step I cut up small slivers of flax leaf to line the seats of my boat. Now your boat is ready for the water. You can put Lego men into the seats and float it in your bath or you can take it to your local river and watch if float on down. (Don't use Lego for this part). Another idea is to cut out a second boat and use string to tie the boats together. Then tie the last boat to a long length of string which you hold while walking alongside the river following the progress.
You can also tie your boat to a kite string and then you could go to the beach and watch it float out while your Dad's fishing. Make sure the line doesn't get tangled up.