DIY Pirate Ship Wagon Upgrade

Shiver me timbers! Halloween be coming soon mateys! Arrrrrrr ye ready? Ye may have the perfect pirate costume picked out with a parrot, a patch and a peg-leg, but how are you expected to get from port to port, plundering for candy? If ye be needing a vessel to sail o’er the high seas, then avast ye here! This tutorial will bring out the “old salt” in you for only a few doubloons!

This project was designed to fit a “step 2” wagon. You can modify the measurements of the pieces to fit whatever wagon you might be using. The cardboard presentation boards are from the dollar store, but you could also re-purpose any large leftover boxes you have laying around.

If you’re prone to sea sickness, maybe you should blast off with our DIY spaceship tutorial or be chauffered in our elegant DIY princess coach instead.


Wagon Pirate Ship Supplies

  • 12 Inch Parrot
  • 1 yard beige muslin fabric
  • Black Spray Paint
  • Spray Adhesive
  • 5-6 Sheets of cardboard presentation boards (or cardboard)
  • 1 Sheet of Black Posterboard
  • 1 Sheet of White Posterboard
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Marker or pencil
  • Hot Glue Gun w/ plenty of extra Glue Sticks
  • Thin Gold Cord
  • Wide and Extra Wide Natural Fiber Ribbon
  • 5 Paper Towel Tubes
  • Masking Tape- preferably 1.5-2”
  • 4 Sheets of Black Foam
  • 1 Sheet White Glitter Foam
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 4 Foam Rings (5.8”)
  • Measuring Tape or Long Ruler
  • Flag and Anchor Templates
  • Step 2 Wagon (like this one)

 Pirate Ship Step 01

Step 1. Cut pieces of cardboard to to make the general body shape of the pirate ship. My wagon was wider than one piece of cardboard. I cut my first piece for the side, closest to the handle. I added a notch for the wheel. I cut a piece for the other end of the wagon, with a notch for the back wheel and a higher section to create a “deck”. You can use the picture as a starting point, and get as creative as you want with the shape. Use your cut shapes as a template to create another set of cardboard pieces for the opposite side of the wagon. If using cardboard that is white on one side, like mine, remember to reverse your template.

Step 2. Glue the front and back pieces of the ship together to create a full panel. You should have 2 panels. Again, if using 2-sided cardboard, the pieces will be opposite, like my example.

Step 3. Cut a long piece of cardboard, 29.5” x 10”. Measure 4” in on each end of the cardboard, and draw a line across.

Step 4. Using the dull side of the craft knife blade, gently score the cardboard along one of the lines. The cardboard should fold, but is not completely cut through, Repeat on the other line.

Pirate Ship Step 01

Step 5. Place the folded piece of cardboard over the center of the wagon, and glue the panels to each of the  folded flaps.

Step 6. To support the cardboard panels and create the overall shape of the ship, you will need to add more cross panels.  Cut a piece of cardboard approximately 21.5” long, so that it connects to both panels of the ship. The crosspiece should be the same height as your deck section.

Step 7. Cut a piece of cardboard to be the top of the deck, like shown.

Step 8. Cut another cross piece to go on the “front” of the pirate ship. It should be approximately 21.5” and just deep enough to cover the front of the wagon, but not interfere with the pull handle.

Pirate Ship Step 03

Step 9. Finish the body shape, by adding a skinny cross piece, across the top/front part of the ship.

Step 10. The body of the ship has been assembled, and you can remove it from the wagon. Glue a piece of black cardstock along the back of the ship. This will offer additional support and make the ship look more complete.

Step 11. If your cardboard is white on one side, turn the ship over and lightly spray paint the underside black.

Step 12. Trace one of the foam rings on a piece of the black foam. Cut out, and repeat for the other 3 rings.

Pirate Ship Step 04

Step 13.  Wrap all the foam rings in aluminum foil.

Step 14. To finish the windows, hot glue the foam circles to the back of each ring.

Step 15. Use the anchor template to trace and cut an anchor from the black foam. Wrap a small piece of gold cord around the anchor.

Step 16. Attach 2 windows to each side of the ship. Add some long strips of the natural fiber craft ribbon in between the windows.

Step 17. Use black foam, the natural ribbon, and the gold cord to make a rear window for each side of the ship. Attach the anchor. You can also wrap some ribbon around the edge of the deck for a finishing touch.

Pirate Ship Step 05

Step 18. Now that the  ship is complete, it’s time to make the mast, sail, and crow’s nest. Start by tracing the bottom of a paper towel tube onto the center of the ship’s middle support.

Step 19. Divide the traced circle into eighths. Use the craft knife to cut the lines, creating tabs.

Step 20. To create the mast, attach 5 paper towel tubes, end to end, using the wide masking tape.

Step 21. To add structural support, wrap the mast tightly with the wide natural craft ribbon. Use the hot glue to secure the ribbon as you wrap. Since the bottom of the mast, will be concealed in the wagon, you can save ribbon by leaving the bottom 10” or so unwrapped.

Step 22. Press the bottom of the mast through the cut circle in the wagon, The tabs will help secure the mast and hold it straight, you can use tape and hot glue to secure the tabs to the mast and keep it from leaning.

Pirate Ship Step 06

Step 23.  Cut a large piece of white posterboard to make the sail. About 4” from the top and bottom of the posterboard, draw a trapezoid, large enough for the mast to go through.

Step 24. Use the spray adhesive to attach the muslin fabric to one side of the posterboard, this will give the sail a more authentic look.

Step 25. Cut out the fabric covered sail. Make the trapezoids into flaps, by cutting them, as shown.

Step 26. Thread the sail onto the mast, hot gluing the flaps of the sail to the mast in place.

Pirate Ship Step 07

Step 27. To make the crows nest, trace an 8” square and 4 trapezoids- 8” bottom, 12” top and 4” high on a piece of the cardboard. The dimensions are pictured on my sample.

Step 28. Glue the sides of the trapezoid together, as shown.

Step 29. Complete the crow’s nest by attaching the square base. Repeat steps 18 and 19 on the bottom of the crows nest.

Step 30. Slide the crow’s nest on the mast and use hot glue and tape to secure it in position above the sail.

Pirate Ship Step 04

Step 31. Use the flag template to make the flag out of black and glittery white foam.

Step 32. What pirate ship would be complete without a parrot in the crow’s nest! Now your little pirate can ride in style this Halloween.


So after a minor heave ho, you’ll be ship shape and filling the clipper with buccaneers. Share pics of your crew with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #WHCostumes!

DIY Wagon Pirate Ship Final Look