How to make a rubber band boat. A hand tool project anyone can make.

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One of the core tenets of Woodworking for Mere Mortals is that creative people shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to make fun projects out of wood. While my method of woodworking stresses the use of inexpensive  power tools, I sometimes have viewers ask if I can make a project using only hand tools.

Making (good) projects completely using hand tools requires a much higher degree of skill and proficiency that I have accumulated over the years, but this week I found a great project to make that leaves plenty of room for error. Perfect! By the way, hats off to you folks who specialize in hand tool woodworking: you have amazing skills.

rubber band boat

This rubber band boat would also be a great project for scouting, schools, or other group events. It’s super simple and can be highly customized. You can even use power tools and make one in under an hour. Make a whole fleet!

I began with a 4.5″ (11.5cm) wide pine board. I chose this width because it is readily available at home centers and won’t require any long rip cuts because it’s the same width as the boat.

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I designed a full sized cutting template you can use if you like. It’s really more of a suggestion: cut out whatever shape boat you like! I attached it to my board using spray adhesive, but you could also just draw out the cut lines.

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I used a knife to score the lines, then peeled off the template.

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I drilled holes to create an entry point for my coping saw and make turning the saw easier in the corners.

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The I cut out the center with the coping saw and sanded it smooth.

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Cutting the bow of the boat and rounding over the edges.

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I drilled holes in the sides for the rubber band and holed in the top for the dowel pegs.

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Cutting the pegs from a dowel and gluing them in place:

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To make the paddle wheel, I needed to resaw some thinner pieces. This was a little tricky using a hand saw.

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I didn’t cut a very straight line!

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Next, I cut this the thin side lengthwise and cut that into two pieces.

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I was able to sand these pieces to reasonably consistent thicknesses.

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To interlock the two parts of the paddle wheel, I drew a rectangle half of the with of the piece then cut out both slots at the same time.

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After painting the boat,  I used #64 rubber band to attach the paddle. Just wind it up and let it go!

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Free Rubber Band Boat Plans

4 COMMENTS

  1. Really like this project, hoping to make 2 for my nephews, little battery boats they get “always” die/break withing a hour in the pool.
    No matter what I try, I cant save or print the plans., I am on a iPad with pdf, I dont even get the option to print or save as a pdf. Any help would be appreciated.

    Keep up the good work.

    Robert

  2. Hi Robert – have you tried pressing the (share button) an icon on the top right hand side like a box with an arrow pointing up?
    Press it and then swipe the bottom line of icons to reveal the Print icon.

    Hopefully this will help you.

    Regards
    Ian (UK ipad)

  3. Running a woodworking for teens program at a library today and making a modified version. They’re turning out great! Thanks for the idea, Steve!

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