Thu 10 Oct 2013
Sun 29 Sep 2013
Though it’s obvious to those of us who work with wood every day, many may not realize that a recently launched boat or a finished chair was at one point rooted in the earth. We try to weave this concept into our year long woodworking and boatbuilding curriculum with middle school students. The most traditional way to build boats – anywhere – is to build with what you have. Luckily for us Maine is blessed to have a great reserve of standing timber, a great natural resource. We thought it might be interesting to follow a tree from death to life – from the initial felling, milling, and drying, to its being shaped by human hands with human made tools, and to see the different paths a tree takes in our shop. For a life cannot be taken lightly – we must strive to honor this gift and use it in as many positive ways that we can imagine.
Day 1: The Fall
Species: Thuja occidentalis (Northern White Cedar)
Distance from shop: 20.2 Miles
Wed 21 Dec 2011
Today Woolwich students finished building their half models, a three week project which entailed carving a scale model of a susan skiff and affixing it to a shaped backboard. A brief survey of the kids yielded the most difficult part of the project – learning all the new vocabulary. The task was to take a set of blueprints (‘lines’) and transfer these to a three dimensional block of wood. A few short hours of sanding later, and the models were ready for a coat of oil.
This year’s class finished their half models before it was time to go, so we decided to make Christmas tree ornaments. Sailboats and sleds were in order, with some pretty colorful variations on a theme.
A gaff rigged sloop!
Thu 15 Dec 2011
This holiday season we decided to offer another Shaker Box workshop, but we were unprepared for the interest in this class. We ended up holding two classes with 7 people in each. Participants came from as far as South Portland to each build a set of three nesting shaker boxes.
A total of 42 boxes were made in the first two nights
Fri 16 Sep 2011
After 14 months, thousands of hours of work, four coats of paint, seven coats of varnish, and one awesome party, we can finally say it: “Velo” is complete! She was launched today amid a fanfare of bagpipes and cannons, and will finally take her rightful place in the waters next to the museum. Many thanks to Vicki and Paul Skydell for hosting the launching party at the shop, and also to Farm to Table catering for providing the refreshments. There were over 100 people in attendance to the event, which included the official opening of the Museum’s small craft boat storage barn, completely renovated and organized to showcase some of our classic small craft.
Fri 2 Sep 2011
Sat 30 Jul 2011
Today concludes our third annual Boatbuilders Summer Camp, which once again coincided with the hottest week of the summer. Temperatures in Bath today hit 101 as we launched our boat and spent the afternoon playing wiffle ball outside. Next year we’ll try to get the air conditioning working in the boatshop.
Four students spent the last ten days building a Bevin Skiff from scratch, cutting out each part and nailing, screwing, and gluing them together. Paint scheme was determined by the kids, and each got a chance to (learn how to) row.
Wed 1 Jun 2011
This week we installed the coamings in the cockpit, which took quite a bit of time. More shaping, bunging, and of course varnishing remain, but this represents another mini milestone in the construction process. It took us pretty much the entire day, and more than five pairs of hands were involved from start to finish. When it’s completely shaped and varnished, the coamings add beautiful lines while protecting cockpit residents from water while heeling.
Wed 25 May 2011
Both Woolwich boats are just about ready to launch, which means it’s time to paint! One skiff will have the traditional museum colors of white topsides, red bottom, and cream interior, while the school’s boat will have maroon topsides, a black bottom, and a buff interior.
Painting is serious business, because if it goes on too thick, all the runs and sags will have to be sanded and scraped by hand, which is NOT what any of the boatbuilders want to do next week…
Mon 16 May 2011
The sailboat we’re building has four spars, and we decided to build them out of spruce bought at the local sawmill. Luckily we were able to buy clear and straight grained stock. We also decided to build a hollow mast out of 8 pieces, glued together with a ‘bird’s mouth’ joint, cut on our newly acquired shaper.
Wed 11 May 2011
With only a few parts and pieces left on the skiffs, Woolwich students are finishing up the seats, outer stems, and oarlock pads. Below, a 7th grader is shaping the outer stem, which will protect the plank ends from water and collisions with immovable objects.
Here, another 7th grader is cleaning his pine seat, which will eventually be varnished.
Fri 6 May 2011
Wed 27 Apr 2011
Mon 11 Apr 2011
Wed 6 Apr 2011
Today we flipped both boats and began working on the interior. Taking a boat off of its jig is a moment unlike any other in the building process, save for when it goes in the water. It’s sometimes hard to really understand what the boat will look like when it’s upside down, and our imaginations can only take us so far. Usually the hull looks bigger when it’s upright, and one can immediately see any and all mistake that may have been made in the planking process. It also allows more elbow room for cleaning! In a boat like these, completing the hull constitutes about half the work, and fitting each individual interior member takes a bit of time. Of course, that doesn’t include painting and varnishing. With a launch date set for June 14, there’s no time to relax!
Wed 30 Mar 2011
As of the end of the workday, both Woolwich boats are completely planked! In addition, one has a bottom and is ready to take off the jig. This is always a key moment in the process, when the hull takes form and it actually looks like a boat. This year’s crew is actually ahead of schedule, so if we have time at the end, we’ll make our own oars for the launching.
Mon 7 Mar 2011
Now that the sheer clamps are in place, it’s time to build the decks and floorboard supports. There’s not a whole lot of wood going into this stage, but each needs to be fit precisely to fit the angle of the hull. Before we put them deck on, we will paint inside the bulkheads to save the trouble of doing it later on.
Floorboards come next. Ours will be made of 1/2″ cedar, and two hatches are built in to allow access to the bilge, in the event water needs to be pumped out.
Fri 25 Feb 2011
The Haven 12 1/2 is making slow and steady progress towards its July 15 launching. Today we fastened in the sheer clamps, which stiffen the gunnel and clamp in the steam bent oak frames. Each frame gets riveted to the sheer clamp, which involves driving a copper nail through the clamp, and peening over the end with a ball peen hammer. Better done with two people, this job requires a strong grip and lots of patience. Luckily a volunteer jumped right in the boat and by lunch we were halfway done.
Thu 24 Feb 2011
As promised, day 2 came and went, and the final product was a brand spankin’ new plywood skiff, built by a family from Belgrade. 10 year old Gilbert was the lead carpenter, with a little help from his mother. We like to launch each family built boat into the Kennebec, but it was decided to postpone the ceremony until a few coats of paint were on (and the temperature changes.) The boatshop offers year round family boatbuilding classes that can be scheduled to meet the needs of the families. For more information, give us a call or shoot an email.
Wed 23 Feb 2011
Normally we have our family boatbuilding events outdoors and launch the boats into the Kennebec at the end of the second day, but we wouldn’t want to deprive a family of the experience just because there’s snow outside! A group came all the way from Belgrade to build a plywood skiff, which will be completed tomorrow. This family of two made up for their numbers by working around the clock (and taking a short lunch) to complete the hull by 3pm. Tomorrow we will outfit the interior – frames, seats, deck, and quater knees.