How to Build a Model Sailboat

Building a model sailboat is still practiced by many as a pastime or hobby. It is a fun way of expressing one’s innovativeness and creative side. You can even compete with other model sailboat enthusiasts.

Even though the art of making one is not as popular as before, the information on methods of construction is still available and the tools and materials are very accessible. The instructions are provided below so you can build your very own model sailboat.

Tools required

  • Scissors
  • Modeling knife
  • Drill
  • Tape measure

Materials required

  • Pins
  • Aircraft plywood
  • Graph paper
  • Glue (epoxy)


  1. First, you need to choose a sailboat design to start with. Generally, size and dimension depend on the builder.
  2. We then need to construct the hull of the ship. This is done by shaving off pieces of wood with the modeling knife to form a point at one end of the model boat. Then shave off the sides to form the curved shape angle of the boat base.
  3. Use sandpaper to sand all the sides of the hull. This process will give it a more refined shape, feel and look. It will make the edges more rounded along the hull.
  4. Drill a hole ½ inches deep into the ship’s bow to provide sail support.
  5. Now use a hand saw to cut the dowel so that it is 6 inches long. Make certain that when it is cut, the finished product is straight and even. Then use the sandpaper again to sand the dowel to rid it of splinters and rough edges that could hurt your hands.
  6. Put glue into the hole that was drilled into the hull and insert the dowel mast. When inserting the glue, excess glue will come out from the hole so just wipe it off. The glue can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an entire day to dry.
  7. Take a canvas or cloth material and use the scissor to cut it to be used as the sail for the model sailboat.
  8. Take the mast and glue the sail onto one edge, and apply more glue to the dowel mast so the canvas can be wrapped around so the edges of the cloth don’t show.
  9. Now glue the string to the side of the sail that is attached to the mast. Then use the staple gun to attach the other end of the string to the hull, this will create the boat’s rigging.

Tips and Warning

  • The American Model Yacht Association provides a lot of information that can take the art of model sailboat building to the next level. A lot of plans and designs are displayed by its members that can be used to create your own model sailboat.
  • A keel can be made and attached to the bottom of the model sailboat to give it more realism. A keel can be constructed from a thin sheet of balsa wood.
  • If children are making a model sailboat as a project, it is advised not to allow them to use saws, drills or staples guns. These should only be used by adults.
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