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How to Bend Wood for Model Ships

Wood must be fitted to the hull when building model ships.
model boat image by maya from Fotolia.com

It can be a difficult process to build a realistic scale model ship using wood. Each wood plank placed onto the ship’s hull must be carefully bent into shape, following the curves of the ship that are created by the ship’s ribs. Bending wood for model ships requires preparation. Once wood has been sufficiently bent, you can glue the planks into place with confidence, knowing that each properly prepared wood plank won't add stress to the hull by trying to revert to its original state.

Wood must be fitted to the hull when building model ships.
model boat image by maya from Fotolia.com

Things You'll Need:

  • 3 Clamps
  • Hot Water
  • Bowl
  • Ca (Cyanoacrylate) Glue
  • Hacksaw Or Utility Knife
  • Craft/Hobby Iron
  • Wood Planks

Cut the wooden plank to the length and width you need using a hacksaw or utility knife. Cut finished wood from the rear to prevent marring the finished surface.

Soak the wood in a bowl of hot water until it easily bends. Test the wood for pliability every 10 minutes. Remove the wood plank from the water once it bends without showing signs of splintering.

Place the soaked wood plank onto the boat hull, following the curves of the hull. Apply a hot iron to the plank as you bend it in place. The heat from the iron will help you mold the plank to the hull. Clamp the plank into place at both ends and in the center. Allow the plank to dry completely in place. Drying times vary according to the thickness of the plank and the type of wood.

Remove the clamps from the planks and then glue them in place with cyanoacrylate glue. Apply the glue at each point where the plank touches the bulkhead of the ship.


Use wooden planks that have wood grain that follows the length of the plank to prevent the wood from splintering.

Irons for craft use can be found at most craft and hobby stores.


  • Do not use the soaking method on multilayered woods. Water weakens the glue that binds the layers together, which can unravel the wood.
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