How to Build a Model Ship

Building a model ship is a very interesting pastime that many people enjoy doing. It can be a lot of fun to watch your model ship build as you build it. Most of these models are exact representations of real boats and even share some things in common with the building process. Don’t worry if you’ve never built a model ship before, as there are many model kits with all the parts you’ll need to build your own boat.

Buy Model Boat Kit

Find a model you want to buy. There are several models, styles and different types of kits available to buy. If it’s your first contact with the world of model boat building, you’d better spend a little time looking for one that catches your eye. Buying one of these kits is the easiest way for beginners to get started with this hobby. Have fun and find a model you want to build to start with.

  • Local model shops will probably have model boat kits available for you.
  • Many online model shops can send the kit to your home.
  • There are many styles of kits that you can buy and many of these will have different difficulty levels.
  • If this is your first time building a model boat, it is advisable to choose one for beginners.
  • Do some research on the model boat you’re going to build to get a better idea of what it will look like once you’ve finished it.

Buy the necessary tools. The vast majority of kits will require some basic tools that you will have to buy. These tools will help you assemble the model and ensure that everything is properly assembled. Review the model’s tooling requirements and buy any other tools you need.

  • You probably want a garlopa or sandpaper.
  • A small pliers will help when assembling the model.
  • You may find a complete kit of the necessary tools for the model boat that will provide you with everything you need to get started.

Follow the kit’s instructions and assemble your model ship. Although many model boats require you to follow the same steps when assembling, your kit will come with its own specific instructions. Always follow your model’s instructions to the letter to ensure it is assembled correctly and looks great once finished.

  • Each model ship will have its own directions.
  • Always consult your instruction manual for each step.

Build the body of the model ship

Open the box and order the parts of the model. Once you have the kit of the model, you must open it and examine its contents. It is necessary that you have all the parts and instructions necessary to assemble the boat. However, you must make sure you really have everything you need for the assembly. Ordering parts can be a good way to find out if something is missing or if something is damaged.

  • Make sure all the pieces are in the box.
  • Make sure none of the parts are damaged.
  • Find the instruction manual and check it.
  • You may need additional tools or material. Check the instructions to see if you need to buy other things before you start assembling.

Build the boat’s structure. Once you have confirmed that you have all the materials and tools you need to build your boat, you can start building the structure. The structure of the boat will allow you to add the tables to it and form the true body of the model boat. Check these tips so you have a better understanding of what to expect when building the model structure:

  • Slide the bulkheads into the keel. The keel will be the long piece of structure that goes along the boat. The bulkheads will slide into the keel slots and help shape your boat’s boards when it’s time to use them.
  • Once you are sure everything fits, you can glue the bulkheads onto the keel.
  • Make sure everything is level and flat at the top of the structure. If any of the bulkheads or any part of the keel is higher than others, use sandpaper to level them.

Level the bulkheads. A primary part of assembling the boat will be to ensure that the boards are horizontally over the bulkheads. If the boards fail to touch each of the bulkheads and are extended to the same level, your boat may not be properly assembled. Use the following steps to see how flat the boards are going to be through the bulkheads. In this way, you will ensure that your model ship is built correctly:

  • Put a board on the bulkheads.
  • If there is a space where the board does not touch the bulkhead, sand it a little until the board is fully extended over it.
  • Take your time and make sure each board is fully extended over the bulkheads.
  • Be sure to check both sides of the bulkheads.
  • If you sand one of the areas too much, you can add small slices of wood to level the board.

Add the first few boards. Once you’re sure the boards will be fully extended over the bulkheads, you can start gluing them. Adding the boards will help you create the hull of your model boat; the first board you place will determine how the rest of the boards should be glued, so take your time and do it correctly, following the model instructions.

  • You may place the first board at deck level.
  • The boards extend along the boat from bow to stern.
  • Each board shall be attached to the bulkhead assigned to it.
  • Check your model’s instructions for where to place your first board.
  • Add the boards in pairs to make sure they are level with each other. Your first tables should reflect images of each other.
  • Soaking the boards in water can help them become more flexible.

Continue building the hull by adding boards. Now that you’ve laid the first boards, you can start adding the remaining ones to build the hull. These boards should fit tightly, filling in any gaps between them. Once you’re done, there should be no gaps between the boards, as you’ll need to completely close the bulkheads and build the hull.

  • If you have spaces left, you can use tapaporos or small pieces of wood to fill them.
  • Your model may require additional layers of wood planks. Follow your model’s unique instructions when adding wood planks to ensure the best results.
  • Often, additional layers of wood are decorative.
  • You may need to reduce some of the boards to close the gaps.

Sand the hull. After you’ve added all the boards needed to form the hull, you can start sanding it. Some boards may be slightly uneven in some places, giving your hull a lumpy, rough appearance. By sanding the hull, you can give your boat a smoother, better contoured appearance. Take your time and carefully sand any rough, uneven or uneven area of the hull.

  • The hull of your model boat should look completely smooth after sanding.
  • Each board will look as if it had been naturally combined or glued to the side.
  • No board should protrude more than another.

Add the cover. Now that the hull has been sanded, you can add the deck. Doing this will complete the main structure of your model boat. You may need to glue the model deck to the top of the bulkheads, keel and boards that are at the same level as the deck. After you have glued the deck, you can proceed with adding details, painting and finishing with your model boat.

  • Check your boat twice before adding any finishing touches.
  • You may need to use steamers or small pieces of wood to keep the deck level.
  • Take a moment to sand any rough areas you have noticed.
  • Your model may have specific instructions for gluing the cover. Check the instructions all the time to make sure your model will look good.

Finish Model Ship

Paint or seal the hull and deck of the boat. Now that you have completely assembled the hull and deck of the model, you can begin to apply paint or any other sealant. This can help give your model the finished look that the real boat would have. Check your model’s instructions for exact details on what kind of finish you want it to have and how to do it.

  • The vast majority of wooden boat models require some type of wood paint and sealer to protect the material.
  • Some models can be decoratively painted to look like real replicas.
  • Matt or polyurethane finishes can be a great addition to your model boat.

Add the details. Once most of the boat is painted, you can start adding details. These small pieces can add a certain level of realism to your boat, making it look complete. Your model kit may include all the parts needed to add to it. Follow the instructions in the kit so you know exactly where and how to place the pieces on the model. For example, you may want to add items such as these to give your boat a touch of authenticity:

  • candles
  • mast
  • mask
  • the rudder of the ship
  • rigging
  • cannons
  • citadel

Finish assembling your model and display it. Before finishing the model, it’s a good idea to give it one last check. Make sure that the boat is painted to your liking, that you have added all the details and that you are satisfied with its overall appearance. If something is missing, feel free to fix any details you’ve noticed. After you’ve thoroughly checked the boat, you can proudly display your work.

  • You can buy showcases for your model boat at any model shop.
  • You should not have any remaining pieces of your model boat. If you have leftovers, try to see where the piece is supposed to go and, if possible, add it.
  • Be careful with your model boat, as it is a fragile object.


  • You can also buy a model kit made of plastic. Most of these come with pre-assembled parts that can be easily joined or glued together.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to build your boat. Take your time with each step to make sure everything is set up correctly.
  • All models will have their own instructions. Try to follow them to the letter to ensure good results.

Things you will need

  • a model boat kit of your choice
  • the tools that the kit asks you for
  • a clean and well lit space in which to assemble the model