Wooden Boat Construction

Wooden Boat Construction

Harvesting Wood for Boatbuilding


I have been an outdoorsman as long as I have been a woodworker, which is to say as long as I can remember. Having spent countless hours hiking our country’s wild places, I became steadily more aware of the damage that irresponsible logging causes to our environment. I am the first to admit that forestry can be practiced responsibly and with little long-term impact to the environment. Unfortunately this is rarely the case, and all too often the manner in which timber is gathered borders closer to rape than stewardship. I know trees are a renewable resource; but in all reality a thousand year old cedar is not. Yet I knew I was supporting these destructive practices when I went to the lumberyard to buy stock for my work. This dilemma came to a crux when I began building boats. Yes, that old-growth fir was wonderful stuff to plank with, but the cost was too high, both monetarily and morally.

Fortunately a solution presented itself at about the same time. (more…)

Wooden Boat Construction

Black Locust for Boatbuilding – a Native Treasure


The molds were up, the ribbands in place, it was time to put in the frames, and I was a little worried. I was building a melonseed—a great little traditional sail boat with shallow draft and a hard turn of the bilge in the aft sections. I was framing with steam-bent Black Locust, as I do with all my boats, and I just wasn’t sure if the 3/4” x 5/8” frames would be able to take that much bend. I knew from experience that good Locust bends beautifully, and I had good stock—nice, even grain with little or no run-out—but this was going to be a severe test. (more…)

Wooden Boat Construction

Wooden Boat Construction – Backbone assembly

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“Where do you start?” That’s a question I hear a lot when folks are asking me about building a boat. It’s a good question; it’s an obvious question, and it has a deceptively simple answer.

“I start with the backbone” I tell them.

“You mean the keel?”

That’s the response I almost always get. And I explain that yes, the keel is an important part of the backbone, but that it is just one component in a large assembly of pieces that provide the foundation for the rest of the boat. (more…)