Building a Longship – Cardboard Engineering (part 1 of 3)

To recap-  a boy who lived across the road from my parents was helping me develop the main character for the book. This boy, Nick, seemed very much like the main character of Josh (Knut)- both are very inventive and creative boys, with vivid imaginations. For research purposes (and for fun), Nick, his dad Roy and I set about building a Viking longship out of a cardboard fridge box.

Step 1.

We laid the cardboard out flat and ruled a line straight down the middle- we’d be building two identical sides for our ship, so we would need to divide the cardboard in half.

Nick and his dad Roy measuring

Step 2.

We drew the outline of the boat onto one half of the cardboard, making one half of a ship.

Nick consults the blueprints
the dragon-head of our longship

Step 3.

We cut out the half-a-ship.

Nick cuts the dragon's teeth
I cut the dragon's tail; Nick supervises
Roy cuts fiddly bits with a jigsaw

Step 4.

We tested the half-a-ship: it seemed good enough.

We had to cut Nick's legs off so that boat was the right size
"It's good, but will it float?"

Step 5.

We used the half-a-ship as a stencil, tracing around it on the second half of the cardboard. Then we cut out the second half-a-ship. This gave us two identical sides for our ship.

Roy gets out the jigsaw again

Step 6.

We used the left-over cardboard to make shields, to go along the sides of our ship.

Nick. Making shields.

And, that’s the end of part 1.

Join us next week for part two of Building a Longship, where we spray-paint the ship and the shields 🙂

Author: James Foley

James Foley makes children’s books for children who read books. If you’re a child and you’re eating his books, you’re doing it wrong. His books include Brobot, Dungzilla, Gastronauts, Chickensaurus, Toffle Towers, My Dead Bunny and There's Something Weird About Lena. James lives in Perth with his wife, 2 kids, and a labrador. He is a massive Marvel movie nerd and comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts. Follow him on FB/twitter/insta/youtube @jamesfoleybooks, or at .

4 thoughts on “Building a Longship – Cardboard Engineering (part 1 of 3)”

  1. Looks fantastic. I envy young Nick. Thats a real adventure right there. Its amazing how far away you can take yourself with a bit of cardboard and an imagination.

    Reminds me of the bed sheet “caves/hideout” saga from Fortescue St.
    Ahh.. those were the days.

    1. Hey Matt, thanks for coming and having a look. It’s definitely like the cubbyhouse days when we were kids. I don’ think either of us grew out of it though.

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