Benefits of Building a Boat Model

Building a boat model is a great first step toward the goal of building a full-size boat. Stitch and glue boat plans don’t often make it easy to envision the future state. Flip through the plans and you’ll notice a bunch of straight lines depicting various parts. Being a visual person, I wanted to see how straight sides and bottom panels would turn into lovely boat curves.

Benefiting from a Boat Model

The highly regarded builder/designer Howard “Dynamite” Payson thought boat models were a great way to understand a design better. In fact, he dedicated an entire chapter to it in Instant Boatbuilding with Dynamite Payson. He had this to say:

No matter how experienced you are as a boatbuilder, building a construction model before tackling the full-scale boat is one of the best learning techniques around.

Thankfully, Hank Bravo’s Tango Skiff 17 plans include a couple of sheets for a paper model. Since the real thing is built entirely from plywood and without the need for frames, a paper model is a perfect way to appreciate this skiff’s elegant simplicity.

As I taped the model together, the boat started to come to life. The flat pieces turned into curves at the bottom and sides. The bulkheads and seats came together to provide stiffness even to the paper model. Finally, I could even start to picture myself in the completed boat.

The simple act of assembling the paper model encouraged me that I had made the right choice. Going forward, I’m sure it will be close by as a reminder of what lies ahead.


With the model done, the next step is to source marine plywood and truly commit. Marine plywood ain’t cheap…