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How to Build a Boat from Branches

How to Build a Boat from Branches

02/05/2019

Do you know those stories about people who find bottles drifting away at the sea with an old letter within? I have always wanted to find one, hoping that I would be the one saving somebody stranded on a lost island far far away. Unfortunately, the most interesting thing I have ever found on a shore was a green shell with a piece of plastic wrapped all over it…

Well, boats are pretty interesting even if you don’t have plans to sail for saving a modern Robinson Crusoe. Since buying a boat or even building one is an expensive project, I choose to play small and build small. So I came up with this idea to craft a decorative boat on a budget. Actually, with no budget, because I did it without spending a dime.

Here’s how to craft this DIY project!

What You Need

If you have an yard and trees, then you already have the basic material – tree branches. Grab two of them – a thick one for the hull, and a thin one for the mast, in similar length – 8 to 9-in. Also get a triangular piece of cloth for the mainsail, a piece of wire (20-ga to 30-ga and 5-in long would be enough), two 3-in pieces of ribbon for the flags.

As for the tools, you need a short knife, a drilling machine with a 1-in drill bit for wood, some glue, a stapler, scissors, and a lighter. Some sanding paper might be useful too.

My hull was an apple tree branch that that I got after trimming the trees in the spring. Can you see those unique marks that look like the piece of wood has drifted away for thousand miles and was bit by the sharks? The wood was bit for sure, but there was no shark around, but only my playful dwarf rabbit called Puffy.

If you don’t have a rabbit to crunch your wood (and you probably don’t), use a screwdriver or a hammer and nail to scratch the branch and make it look old.

How to Build the Mini-boat

I choose to peel the mast to make it look like the hull, but it’s not mandatory to do so.

But you still have to take the following steps. Bend the ribbon in half on its length and make a cut on 45 degrees on each piece to craft the flags. Now it may sound weird, but here’s an old trick that my grandma taught me to prevent the ribbon from tearing apart. Light the lighter and smoothly get the fabric as close to the flame as possible to make the edges melt. Don’t get any closer, and approach should be bit by bit, because you don’t want to edges to become firm, but only to make the fibers stick. You actually use the flame as a tool to melt the edges and make them look neat.

Before starting to build the boat, you need to be sure that the hull will stay firm and won’t roll over when the boat is finished. If the branch is too round, then use the sanding paper to create a plane area on a side. That would be the bottom of your boat.

Use the drilling machine to make a hole in the upper side of the hull, right in the middle of the branch. Pour a pinch of glue, then insert the stick, in order to assemble the mast. Let them dry.

Now let’s fix the mainsail. You will need the stapler to fix the fabric on the main branch, aka the hull of the boat.

Now you will use the wire to make the upper part of the mainsail stick to the mast: bend it tight over the fabric, so it would not slip down. Right above the bended wire, you install the two flags. Pour a bit of glue on the raw end of the ribbon and roll it around the mast, to make the flag stay in line with the mainsail. Repeat the operation with the next flag, to get what you see below:

Well, your boat is ready. If you followed the same steps as I did, it should look pretty much like this:

Now let’s take a look closer. Can you feel the breeze? Can you smell the shells?


This was a surprising project for me. It started from the piece of orange wood that you saw upper in the article, and turned into a colorful picture about crystal clear water, golden sand and happy days on a quiet beach. This color pallet pleased me so much that all my plans about redecorating with beige, olive green and red started to melt. I might turn to turquoise instead…

I don’t know about you, but with a boat like this, I would go sailing with no Robinson Crusoe to save.

This is a boat that I crafted from scraps, with no plan in mind. but you can definitely do much more than that, and use one of the 16.000 woodworking project that cover anything you have in mind. Click the banner below to grab this offer now!

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1 comment

Joanna @DIY Project 06/07/2018 - 4:54

This looks really awesome. Have to try this boat DIY tutorial out.

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