My 5.5 year old son wants to make a model ship. I made something with
my dad when I was about same age, from plywood, and he wants to have
his own. I do not want to get into "show quality" esoteric stuff. I
want to have a project where he can participate meaningfully. Any
suggestions as to the choice of materials etc.
Ideally, I am hoping to be able to find some sort of "dense cardboard"
type material that is easy to work with, etc. In the end I would epoxy
I want it to be approximately 1 foot.
I can ask a clarification question: where can I find heavy
paper/cardboard (not corrugated) that is, say, 1 mm thick.
I think that I would be able to go a long way with that, esp. if I
apply epoxy after the model is done.
On Fri, 09 Feb 2007 11:28:28 -0600, Ignoramus8098 wrote:
You might try some "mat board" from an art supply store or a picture
framing shop. It's a little thicker than 1 mm, maybe 2 mm or so. Pretty
hard to cut it cleanly with scissors; best to use an x-acto knife or
utility knife or a razor blade.
Dan in Wyoming
One of the most important considerations is keeping the young person
involved. In my experience, it helps if he/she has small jobs to do while
you tackle the more complicated stuff. Back in the 70s, a young lad asked if
I could fix a Stuart 10H that he had. It seems his father built it, and died
soon afterwards. His mother gave permission for him to be present when the
work was done. Just about everything on the engine was misaligned. The young
lad soon started to get bored. In response, I started setting up cuts on the
lathe, then had him turn the hand wheels. He soon had the knack of it, and
his interest returned. In two hours, and forty five minutes a very pleased
boy was watching the engine running on air! He walked out the shop cradling
it in his hands, pleased as punch. It was the only thing he had from his
father, as his mother disposed of everything.
On Fri, 09 Feb 2007 12:59:40 -0600, Ignoramus8098 wrote:
Yes. Mat board is basically very thick paper. Can be glued with plain old
white "Elmer's" glue, or superglue (maybe not the best choice for a
5-yr-old!), or epoxy, or rubber cement, or almost any glue you can think of
using. I could foresee you doing the cutting and your small assistant
doing the glue work.
RicodJour mentioned stitch-and-glue, and mat board would lend itself to
that. If you were to drill the holes with a very small drill bit, then
maybe your boy could stitch it together with one of those round-pointed
Hmmmm.... my 5-yr-old niece is coming to visit one of these months.
Thanks for giving me some ideas- as grandma and grandpa have a pond behind
their house, maybe we will build a little boat when Katie is here.
On Fri, 09 Feb 2007 11:28:28 -0600, Ignoramus8098 wrote:
Styrene or ABS plastic sheet would be a better material for model boat
building - see http://www.plastruct.com/pages/RetailDisplays.html about
halfway down, and try to find a hobby shop or sign shop that carries some
materials like those. Sign shops will also carry LDPE sheet. Also see
http://www.sherwoodmodels.co.uk/main/plasticcss.html advice (which
unfortunately says, "recommended for the use of adult scale modellers only")
Styrene sheet for models is perhaps half-mm thick, and can be cut
with scissors, razor knife, or nibbler. If you get to a hobby shop, also
look for a "razor saw", a small thin backsaw that would be safe for a kid
to use, as would be a little Dremel-like tool too. For thin cardboard or
thick paper, look for a local paper goods store.
http://www.georgehart.com/virtual-polyhedra/paper-models.html has some
paper model construction ideas and links to design software. It might be
reasonable to start with a kit or two, like at http://www.fiddlersgreen.net/
or http://www.sirus.com/users/sulstad/paper_models.html or download pdfs
I suggest you weld it! Even better, your son welds it. Then you can claim
how much better your welds got.
When you are finished -don't forget to start at least 5 new new threads
titled "finished"- and it sinks, you can tell that you wanted to build an
U-boat from beginning on.
This way, you can have an on-topic post. Ain't that great? And I'll have
even more to laugh.
*** Available now in NZ and AUS ***
I'd go for "bread and butter" construction, where you saw out boat-
shaped waterline profiles (probably from 1/2" balsa, stack and glue
them, then sand to remove anything that doesn't look like a boat.
It has the advantage that you can feed him a kit of parts that looks
nothing like a boat, yet has most of the hard work done already. It's
also an easy way to build "ocean liner" superstructures. Use dowel
pegs in pre-drilled holes to align them during gluing. Make some
sanding tools for him, out of sections of broomhandle or plywood
offcuts with a layer of foam then a layer of very coarse sandpaper
glued to them. These are easy to use and don't need the broad hand
grip usually needed to hold sandpaper in place.
I usually provide a set of instructions as drawings like a plastic
model kit, showing how it goes together. Then I "have to be busy" with
something else (which just happens to be at the next bench) while he
gets on with things on his own.
The "night shift" repairs any problems arising during the day's
construction, up to and including the complete replacement of damaged
components. Of course there mustn't be any _visible_ change overnight.
This isn't about how it gets done, it's about him getting to make
something and afterwards know that "He can make things".
A flat-bottomed hull by bread-and-butter can be thick enough to embed
a set of carpet wheels into it, so he can play with it at home too.
They also add a bit of low-down ballast for stability when afloat.
Incense cones work down the funnels to make smoke, if you use
lightweight aluminium tube. Watch that it doesn't scratch the bathtub
though. I wouldn't have a mast - it'll only get broken.
The history of WW1 "Q ships" gives you an excuse to have ocean liners
that sprout gun turrets (He'll want them). A hinged flap to hide them
behind is even more fun.
If you're feeling really brave, there's an Edwardian(?) toy battleship
that contained a wooden mousetrap for realistic "magazine explosion"
effects when torpedoed. The whole superstucture and turrets were
fretsawn wooden blocks, piled loosely on top and kicked apart by the
mousetrap spring. A piece of lead "cheese" acts as an inertia trigger
for when it's hit by a torpedo (wheeled on inset steel balls) fired
from a spring in the matching "torpedo boat". I modelled the replica
I did of this on HMS Canopus (web pics a plenty).
No, no, NO. Little boys must not play with guns, it teaches hostility
and violence. They musn't play tag because whoever is 'it' will
develop an inferiority complex. They musn't play dodgeball because
the smaller kids will feel smaller and develop a complex. They must
be suspended from grade school for making terroristic threats if they
dare play cops & robbers and say "I'm going to get you".
Little boys should be forced to play soccer in games where each team
scores 5 goals and everyone gets a trophy, baseball and football are
too violent and one team might actually lose. We need to teach our
children that they are no smarter, taller, faster or better or worse
than anyone else everyone is exactly the same.
This PSA brought to you by the committee to make America mediocre.
How about sheet styrene? It's nice stuff for modelling, available in
many thicknesses, strips, shapes, tube, you name it... It's easily
joined with liquid plastic cement, cut and shaped with XActo blades and
files, waterproof, and takes paint well.
Evergreen is a name sold by hobby and model shops.
> My 5.5 year old son wants to make a model ship.
In my youth, I built model boats, trains and airplanes.
Started when I was about 7-8.
By the time I was 16-17, had built some rather complex stuff.
My advise: KISS
The attention span of a 5.5 year old is limited at best when it comes
to building things.
Find a decent hobby shop, buy a SIMPLE model ship kit, and assemble it.
Even though it will probably assemble quickly, don't rush it.
Patience is a tough lesson to learn. Might as well start early.
I do, actually, want this to be a little more DIY and a little more
I bought plastic models. They are very much NOT what I am looking
for. Way too detailed and impossible for little fingers to
assemble. What ends up happening is that I waste hours truing to glue
pieces of plastic together, and my son can do nothing. I was livid by
the time I finished a Titanic model (though I did not show it).
I want the opposite of that: to build something that resembles a ship,
with maximum of hands on effort on his part and some real world
I kind of agree with TMT in that it should be kept in a spirit of
junkyard wars. Build something nice (meaning that something that
performs a useful function) from scrap.
He recently made a "rocket" from a Pringles can and paper. We launch
it with my compressor. He is very happy about it. He even painted it
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