How to Build a Model Sailboat

Building a model sailboat can be a fun project. Hobby stores carry plenty of supplies and there are even contests and events you can take your creation to and compete against other sailboat enthusiasts. There are quite a few resources online that are made available to beginners. You can acquire plans online and at hobby shops. It will be helpful to attend some AMYA events as well so you can see the boats in action and get a good idea what you want to build.

Required Materials/Tools

  • Graph paper to design the boat
  • Aircraft plywood
  • Glue
  • Pins
  • Modelling knife
  • Clamps
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors


  1. If you want to use your boat for competition, look up the regulations at the American Model Yacht Association website. You can download rules and designs as well as ways to contact other members and get advice on how to get started. The materials and codes you will have to follow will depend on the boat you choose.
  2. Build the hull – when you choose the materials for the hull, you need to decide the materials to use. Aircraft plywood can be steamed to meet the basic shapes and dimensions. You can add fibreglass or a cloth resin to give it a finished look. You should make some sort of Jig rigging to hold up the hull while you work on it.
  3. Next we need to build the deck – refer to the AMYA for the rules of the decking. Be patient and work slowly while building the deck and getting the details finished. Be sure the jig you made can support the boat facing upright so you can add detail to the deck. Try making little deck chairs and add model people who are out going for a nice cruise!
  4. Order the ready made parts – you can purchase the sail, mast and radio control parts. These can be found at hobby supply stores and over the internet.
  5. When you acquire the parts, follow the instructions to install the radio control features.
  6. Next install the mast onto the boat. The sails are next to go onto your boat.
  7. Be sure you test it thoroughly for leaks and broken seals. Float it in a bathtub or child’s swimming pool to test the buoyancy and the balance of the model sail boat.


  • Be patient! This project will take some time and a delicate touch. You must follow the plans. It’s best to read the plans and steps multiple times to get a real feel for the project.
  • Ask for help. The AMYA will have plenty of resources and members you may contact during club meeting or other events. Fellow hobbyists love to show off their skill by helping new people enter the world of model boats.

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