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I bought 100 normal popsicle sticks with the idea that I could submerge them in almost boiling water to model them into a viking ship. Before I give it a shot, is there anything I should be aware of? Do popsicle sticks easily splinter? Is there a better alternative for this?

I was planning on 1 - 3 popsicle sicks for the keel by first shaping them after being in the hot water. Then, I would glue and clap them in position for them to dry. I haven't thought of what I would do with the sides yet, but I will probably clap them in some way to retain the curve then just glue it all together.

So, is this easily possible or should I be going about this differently?

  • Do you know what type of wood your sticks are made from? It may say on the packaging. If not, you may be able to look it up on the web. I know birch is common but not necessarily ubiquitous. Also, I don't know much about woodworking but you might consider looking at this interesting instrucables about making a skateboard out of popsicle sticks. – Catija Feb 1 '18 at 18:56
  • I am not sure on the type of wood. I checked on the amazon page but found nothing. Pacon Regular Natural Craft Sticks amazon.com/dp/B073VS3WBC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_p84CAb0M8APB4 – Cody Ferguson Feb 1 '18 at 22:09
  • Hmmmm, yeah, their website doesn't say anything other than "natural wood". – Catija Feb 1 '18 at 22:31
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On the assumption that you're going to try and mimic the clinker-built (that is, overlapping planks) construction of the real thing but not smaller details such as the riveting of planks together with trenails, then you should be able to use popsicle sticks for the planking - as you said you'll want to shape them with hot water (or better, steam) to get the correct shapes.*

Where you'll struggle with popsicle sticks alone are the large, complex shaped timbers like the keel, bow/stern posts and keelson. For these I'd recommend buying some larger pieces of basswood and carving them to shape rather than sticking popsicle sticks together. You may also find it easier to carve the frame timbers from basswood also.

Keelson of a longship For reference, this is a picture of a longship I took last year, showing just how huge the keelson is.

*I suspect that the popsicle sticks are too brittle to attempt riveting or similar (the wood in viking ships was usually worked green not seasoned), but if you're just glueing them together they may be fine

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    Thank you for the helpful information! I will first try to make it with just popsicle sticks, so I struggle and learn from that. Then, I am definitely going to try with the basswood so I can just carve the shapes myself! – Cody Ferguson Feb 2 '18 at 16:03
  • Would I be able to glue them on "wet"? I am just having a hard time trying to think of a way to get the popsicle sticks to hold the shape the side planks. I just know that when they dry they will lift off. – Cody Ferguson Feb 5 '18 at 21:23
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    I think you'll need to bend the planks to shape and use a jig to hold them there while they dry. When dry they should hold that shape and you can glue them in place. here is a video showing the same technique – walrus Feb 6 '18 at 9:56

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