How to... Make a DIY Pirate Ship - Red Ted Art's Blog : Red Ted Art's Blog

How to… Make a DIY Pirate Ship

| April 27, 2012 | 61 Comments

Welcome back to this week’s How To – where I made a Cardboard DIY Pirate Ship for the children! Red Ted was given a fabulous pirate ship with fabulous pirates for his . He wouldn’t let Pip Squeak play (as kids sometimes do, especially with  new toy). So I bought her some pirates (thinking the pirates were the problem). He then said “Mummy, can you make Pip Squeak a pirate ship too?”. This was about 4 weeks ago.. and *finally* I found the time during the Easter holidays to Get Crafty for the kids. And this is our DIY Pirate Ship How To! Hope you like it!

cardboard pirate ship


Den Bastelspaß nun auch auf Deutch: Piratenschiff Selber Basteln

DIY Pirate Ship How To – Materials:

  • Cardboard (I used a mid sized delivery box),
  • masking tape,
  • newspaper & paper mache paste (here is an easy homemade paper mache recipe),
  • scissors,
  • paint,
  • glue,
  • 2 sticks (for masts),
  • odds of fabric (I used some old suit fabric from The Englishman and white felt),
  • varnish

Some of the materials are optional – e.g. you could use acrylic paints in which case you wouldn’t need varnish.. similarly you don’t HAVE to add a layer of paper mache, but I think it adds stability! See what you can find at home and amend our DIY Pirate Ship How to, to suite what you have at home!

how to make a pirate ship

Pirate ship pattern

1) Cut out your basic pirate ship shape. We had 5 parts: the bottom, the two sides, the back and a deck. I have included the dimension in a rough sketch for you. Really – they are just approximations. Best to cut your two side panels and the back, tape it all together and then to cut your base and desk to fit your boat. I kept trimming off a little for a good fit! I based our ship on Red Ted’s Toy.

(I have been asked many times about the toys…. you can get the toy ship and the pirate figures, such as the pirate girl and blue beard on amazon).

cardboard pirate ship

2) Cut port holes into your sides and back of your DIY Pirate Ship. I used some nail scissors (that I have especially for crafting) – as they have a nice round curve. Tape your sides and back together.

pirate ship diy

3) Having trimmed your bottom and deck, tape these in too. The deck is quite fragile and is the part that probably benefits the most from the paper mache.

pirate ship cardboard

how to make a pirate ship

4) Cut out 12 cardboard discs – poke a hole through them. Make sure the stick fits snuggly. Then glue all the discs together with strong (!) glue and finally glue in place on the boat. Add masking tape to secure it (picture doesn’t show the tape, sorry!).

DIY pirate ship

5) Now to paper mache! We happened to have lots of white “packing paper” lying around, so I decided to use that. Of course ordinary newspaper is fine too. Check our easy and low cost paper mache recipe. Cut your paper in lots of small-ish strips. Start adding layers of mache – especially over the “joints”. Secure all the masking tape – try to give extra hold to the deck. Yes it is fiddly, but if you can get a few layers of paper “under the deck” propping it up, then that will give it extra strength.

I like to layer my paper in different directions – you know how when you tear newspaper it one direction it tears really is easily, but not in the other? Well, I believe that if you criss cross your paper layers when paper maching, you get a stronger final construction. I do this particularly in areas of “stress and weakness” – e.g. I layered extra round the circular discs.

diy boat

6) Let dry. Then paint. The children chose blue!

make your own boat

cardboard boat

7) Let dry again and add detail – I painted on some skull and cross bones and anchors. I first drew some on paper, cut them out and traced them on with pencil.

8) Let dry and varnish (I used Mod Podge, but any varnish will do)

pirate boat

9) Make a sail: I used a rectangular ish piece of black suit fabric. Sewed the edges. Across the top, I left the seam “wider” so I could insert a stick. Near the middle I snipped the fabric, threaded through some string and with that tied the sail to the mast! For the skull and cross bone I stuck on some white felt.

cardboard pirate ship

diy cardboard ship

Done. Enjoy! I am sure that with time, I will add a ladder and crows nest. But for now, we are done! Hope you have making your own pirate ship!! Remember, that the paper mache is “optional”… all about the longevity of your craft! We want to keep ours for a long long time!

Play. Play. Play.

So lovely to be featured on Fun Crafts with Kids!

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Category: How To's, Kids Craft, paper mache, Recycling

Comments (61)

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  1. That’s SO gorgeous Maggy! Your kids are so lucky to have you as their mum!

  2. Red Ted Art says:

    Thank you Anna!!! You are too kind :-) but sure made for a “happy Pirate” household”!!!

  3. Tracy Dixon says:

    that is so cool and I agree with Anna – your children are very lucky!

  4. Red Ted Art says:

    Thank you :-))))))

  5. Land ahoy! This is absolutely fab, the pattern helps a lot; am absolutely pants at free hand drawing. The little pirate people are very cute too :)

  6. Sian says:

    sooo cute – much better than a plastic one and a fraction of the price of a wooden one – fab idea!

  7. Brittany says:

    This is pretty awesome! What a fun idea!

  8. That is amazing Maggy!!

  9. Taylor-Ann says:

    This is adorable. Great for a pirate party my friend is having soon. I would love if you shared it on my link party this week.

    Can’t wait to see what you create next.


  10. lisa says:

    I’ve been dying to see this since the teaser (prior to covering in paper mache) and it is amazing! so good! I reckon it would be a really good piñata for a birthday party if it was built a bit bigger with a weakened section – what do you think?

  11. Red Ted Art says:

    @Lisa – it would make a BRILLIANT pinata… though I always feel bad breaking pinatas!!! All that work 😉

    And @Tyalor Ann coming your way now!

    Thank you for all your kind comments!!

  12. inès says:

    bravo a toi!! votre idée est super!! c’est fabuleux! j’ai découvert votre blog elle est super !! grace a vous ça m’inspire merci a toi!! et de votre partage!!

  13. Lenora says:

    turned out great! same process as a pinata..

  14. Judy says:

    What a cute little pirate ship…my boys would have so much fun playing with one like that! I love how the flag turned out :)

  15. Julia hannam says:

    This pirate boat is great, I have just made one from your instructions and it’s looking good, considering I am not very artistic, thank you very much :-)

  16. Hi Maggy!

    After all the amazing things you’ve posted to Creative Juice Thursday over the past year, I just had to feature you {and much more in the future too} at the new site. This tutorial is awesome, and is one of the few well-written cardboard tutorials on the net!

    I featured your post at our pirate crafts & activities round-up.

    The Classroom Creative

  17. Amy says:

    Adorable! I think my son and I might start on one today.

    Where did you find the cute pirates? All I can find are scary…

  18. Chris Hodson says:

    Hi Red Ted Art

    Fantastic instructions for the pirate ship, it has helped me out so much with the little ones school project she has enjoyed making it with me, thanks

  19. bill says:

    do you have to use those mesurements i mean is that what you used becuse i think it is too big plus have you used card please reply quickly because it is my homework

    • Red Ted Art says:

      No you don’t those are the measurements I happened to use. The idea is that you cut it down to fit whatever you have at home.

  20. Carrie says:

    Just wanted to let you know you inspired my ship. I linked back to you here: Thank you!!

  21. Red Ted Art says:

    Awe, I LOVE IT!!!!

  22. pollh says:

    I teach a group of special needs students in the 6th and 7th grade. We are making these boats to go with the story we are reading. (Treasure Island) It has also tied in nicely with our measurement unit in math. They were able to cut the cardboard with safety scissors! We are ready to paper mache. That should be fun with 10 kids at the same time. :)

  23. That is a brilliant pirate ship. I love that your rough diagram is the same as my ‘spent 6 hours doing this’ 😀

  24. Suzanne says:

    Your brilliant instructions saved me when my son demanded we make a pirate ship this holiday. Hope you don’t mind but I linked to your blog from mine

  25. We used this as our model for our report and the teacher gave us an A+. Ur kids r super lucky. It makes up for our exams that we flunked. We love ur work, Thank you, for our next report we are going to use some bit of art of urs. Thank you, so much!!! love ur work.
    Art Head and Paint Brush Legs :)

  26. Marsha says:

    Love It! Where did you get the pirates?

  27. Hi Red Ted! I’m the children’s librarian at the Katherine Tyra Library and I just wanted to give you a heads up. Our Build It! program is using your Pirate ship building specifications for our project this Thursday. We used your picture and credited your blog for the picture and the idea! Thanks for sharing your cool ideas with us. If you have any concern about the usage of your picture in the blog please contact me. Thanks again.

  28. Jackie says:

    Oh, I love it. You are one of the most creative people I know, Maggy!

  29. Aleksandar says:

    This is a very beautiful pirate ship. Great idea. I’ll do it same for my kids class. :-)

  30. THX so much! It really works out. My daughter is using it for her project. I don’t know what I would do without you! Then again I agree with Anna, your kids are lucky to have such a mom as you. : )

  31. Pinkoddy says:

    I love this so much – thank you for the pattern – we are going to make one this week

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