How to Make a Model Boat Out of Pop Cans

by Jen Randall
Use nine pop cans to make a model sail boat.

Use nine pop cans to make a model sail boat.

Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

People have made model boats since the Stone Age in order to test designs, share ideas or perhaps just to have fun in streams and ponds, writes Sean McGrail in the book "Boats of the World." Give second life to aluminum pop cans in your recycling bin by making a pop can model sailboat. Making a model boat out of pop cans is a fun activity for kids and adults, particularly since the finished boat will float in rivers, lakes, canals, bath tubs or swimming pools. The project can also serve as a timely entrance into a discussion on the principles of both sailing, materials and recycling.

Items you will need

  • 9 pop cans
  • Roll of duct tape
  • 2 knitting needles
  • Plastic bag
  • 5 paper clips
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • 4 feet of string
  • Waterproof paints and paintbrush
Step 1

Line up three pop cans length-wise in a row by placing the top of one can into the bottom of the next can. Wrap tape securely around the entire circumference of each joint. Repeat to make three rows of three cans each.

Step 2

Lay the three rows parallel to each other approximately two inches apart. This serves as the hull of the model boat. Ensure that the open top of the the central row of cans faces one direction, while the outside two rows face the opposite direction. The stern, or rear, of the boat is the side where there are two can holes. Secure by wrapping a large piece of duct tape around the circumference of each three rows on both ends of the boat. Set aside.

Step 3

Place one knitting needle on a table. Measure up from the widest part of the needle two inches, then place the second needle at that spot at a 90-degree angle. Measure the angle by using a protractor, book corner or simply estimate it with your eyes. Secure the second needle into place using duct tape. The first piece forms the mast, while the second piece is the boom of the boat, which holds the bottom of the sail.

Step 4

Lay a paperclip in the angle of the intersection of the knitting needles so that it extends into the interior of the angle. Secure the bottom of the paper clip to the joint with a hot glue gun, reinforce with a piece of duct tape. At the end of each knitting needle, glue a paper clip that extends out, parallel to the needle. Reinforce with small pieces of duct tape. Ensure that a circle of closed metal is available large enough to slip a piece of string through.

Step 5

Lay the plastic bag between the knitting needles. Trace on the bag a triangle shape with a black marker that extends to the top of each knitting needle.

Step 6

Use the scissors to cut out the shape. Use the hole punch and punch holes in the three corners of the plastic triangle. Reinforce the holes on each side of the bag with hole reinforcements.

Step 7

Cut three pieces of string that are 3 inches in length. Pull the string through the holes in the corners of the bag. Then pull the string through the paper clips that are attached to knitting needles, leaving about a half-inch of space between the holes and the clips. Tie in knots carefully. The bag should be firmly attached, but not too tight as to strain the holes or the paper clips.

Step 8

Use the end of scissors to punch a hole in the middle can of the central row of the boat. Mount the mast to the pop can boat by pushing the mast knitting needle into this hole. Secure with hot glue. Let sit until dry.

Step 9

Cut two pieces of string that are two feet in length. At the end of each string, tie a paper clip so string pulls from the center of the clip, so that is perpendicular to the string. Insert this clip into the mouth of one of the pop cans at the stern of the boat; the clip should catch inside and hold. Bring the string up and feed it through the paper clip at the top of the mast head then bring it back down so that it reaches the mouth of the pop can adjacent to the first at the stern of the boat. Tie on a paper clip to this end and secure inside the mouth of the can. Repeat this to secure the mast to the one hole available at the bow of the boat.

Step 10

Paint the pop can boat using waterproof paint. Add additional decorations such as port holes, steering wheels and a rudder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use at diagram of a sail boat when building the model to discuss the parts of a sail boat with children.


About the Author

Jen Randall has been a writer and editor since 2004. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, academic editor, freelance blogger and ghostwriter, covering education, art and design, fashion, culture and society. Randall earned her Bachelor of Arts in comparative history from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images