Paper Folding Basics: Canoe, Sail Boat, Topedo Boat

By Xah Lee. Date: ,

If you grew up in Asia, you would know about paper folding. (called origami in Japan and western nations). Most kids do. Here are some things i've learned since i was in grade school in Taiwan (1980s).


origami, canoe
A canoe.


paper canoe
Use a rectangular paper. Fold the paper in half (over the shorter side). On one side, fold the two corners inward, then the bottom up.
paper canoe
Repeat the above one more time.
paper canoe
Do the same thing for the other side (so it looks like this). Now, hold the multiple edges on both sides and flip the whole thing into a canoe.

Sail Boat

paper sailboat 7-s
A sail boat.


paper sailboat 2-s paper sailboat 3-s
Use a rectangular paper. Fold it in half, then fold it like the beginning steps of paper plane (see left picture). Then, fold the flaps up, on both sides.
paper sailboat 4-s paper sailboat 5-s
Put fingers into bottom hole, and gently pull outward, so that you can fold it into a diamond shape (above left). Now, fold the legs up on both sides into a hat (above right).
paper sailboat 6-s
Again, put fingers into the bottom hole, pull gently outward, to refold it into a diamond shape (final shape shown above). Now, pull the “legs” on top to puff it into a sailboat.

Torpedo Boat

origami, torpedo boat


paper torpedo boat
Use a square paper. First, make some creases for guide. Fold the paper in half. Unfold. Fold the paper along the diagonal, unfold. Fold the paper like a beginning steps of making a air-plane, unfold. Then, put it into the shape above. (for first timer, you might take a few tries)
paper torpedo boat
Fold one of the pointed leg, so that one edge align with the top. (shown as the bottom side above) Then, make another fold to insert into the top hat. (create the hat by folding it backwards first.)
paper torpedo boat
Do the same for the other side. Then you have the above. Now just puff it up.


There are quite a few others i knew as a school kid. Popular ones include: