Class Descriptions


Building A Boat In My Shop

I offer build-your-own boat classes in my shop.  You can build any of my designs: Willow or QuickBeam Sea Kayaks, the Fox Canoe or my Mischief Pram. I also partner with Pygmy Kayaks to build their designs with students.  It’s a lot of fun working in my shop in southern Maine and exploring the area at the end of the work day.

Building the Willow or QuickBeam Sea Kayak
Build your own sea kayak in a one-week class. Students start with a pre-cut kit containing all the materials needed to build the hard-chined Willow or QuickBeam sea kayak design. The construction is stitch-and-glue using Okoume plywood. This is a full-on week with the kayak construction finished at the end of class. Students will still have some work to do when they get home, but the end result will be a lightweight, rugged and beautiful boat.

Chewonki Boatbuilders Expedition

Camp Chewonki has become a true Maine landmark and one of their most exciting programs, at least to my way of thinking, is their Boatbuilders Expedition.  During this 5 week class young men and women, ages 15-17, will spend about two weeks building their own kayaks. Once finished the builders head out for 3 weeks of kayaking in the boats they built.  My Willow sea kayak was selected as the new ‘Chewonki kayak’ in 2006.  I lead the boatbuilding part of this program.


Building the Fox Canoe

Fox is a decked double paddle canoe and  intended for protected waters along the coast, for lakes and for all those appealing back waters and creeks you are always driving by and meaning to explore someday. She's is a grand boat for hunting, fishing and canoetripping with room for a dog or young child seated forward of the paddler. I offer this class in a one week, two week or two consecutive weekend format. Within the class time, the construction is finished. Students will still have some sanding and painting to do when they get home. Click here for a downloadable pdf with detailed description of the Fox Canoe.


Introduction to Boat Building

No prior boat-building experience is required, simply a desire to learn. If you want to help build the venerable Shellback Dinghy designed by Joel White, explore the theories behind boat construction and learn basic woodworking skills this class is a great way to get started. You will be guided through the step-by-step procedures of taking on and completing a similar project on your own. There will also be discussions in small-craft design, selecting suitable building projects, setting up a shop, and the proper use of hand and power tools.

Building The Mischief Pram

Mischief is a wonderfully versatile little boat for rowers of all ages and she’s a perfect first-time boatbuilding project. . The construction is a builder friendly hybrid of glue- and- screw construction and more traditional methods. The building process has been carefully choreographed so that families or individual builders can assemble the boat over two weekends.

Mischief is a proven design; I’ve built her with students and used her in on-water classes at the WoodenBoat School.  She’s stable enough for kids to play around and she tows like a feather.  In short she’s as good a tender as I’ve ever used and better than many I’ve tried. Best of all you can build her yourself. The end result of our 5 day class will be a good looking, practical rowboat suitable for younger first-time boaters or old salts.


Introduction To Woodworking

This introductory course offers a place for folks of all skill levels to learn. Each day we will cover new topics including: hand tool usage and maintenance, tool sharpening, proper layout procedures, shop safety, power tools, and lots of woodworking techniques that will serve you well in future projects. We'll also cover glue, epoxy and fasteners. The focus of the entire week will be introducing students to the tools and techniques common to all types of woodworking and joinery. We'll put all this to use as each student builds their own toolbox.


Finishing Out Small Boats at Lowells Boat Shop

In this 4 day class, we’ll finish out the build details on the Shellback we built in our Introduction to Boat Building class. This is a great opportunity to build on the skills learned while building the Shellback hull. It is also a fine stand alone class. 

We will cover the skills needed to finish out small boats with a focus on the outwells, breasthooks, thwarts, knees and prepping the boat for paint and varnish. General woodworking skills will be covered. As well as the process of understanding how to design and execute the sometimes complex joinery needed to finish out boats. 

Open to all skill levels. This is a 4 day class, held over 2 consecutive weekends. At the end of the class the boat will be raffled off for the cost of materials.

Tools and Woodworking:  The Basics

In this introduction to woodworking and tools class we’ll begin with the most basic skills and concepts and build on that foundation. If you are intimidated by tools and the idea of working with your hands don’t worry, because that’s the first thing we’ll cover. We’ll meet for two 4-hour sessions with a goal of understanding and then using common hand tools needed for home repair and beginning woodworking projects. We will explore what tools to buy and which ones to avoid. We will use simple power tools, drills and fasteners. Learn how to sharpen tools. Discuss which wood is appropriate for your repairs and projects, as well as which glue to have on hand. In the process we’ll practice these new skills as each student builds a basic toolbox to help them organize the tools they have or will be buying.


Introduction To Traditional Plywood Boat Construction If you are contemplating building your first boat or would like to move beyond stitch and glue boat building this class is designed for you. We will cover the basics of boat design and how to read and understand plans. He will go over hand and power tools and discuss what you’ll need to set up your building space and get started with your project. You will learn about fasteners, plywood and solid wood, glues and epoxy and will work with fiberglass cloth. During the class there will be time to discuss designs and building techniques so you can go home and dive into your own projects.

All this happens while building Joel White’s venerable Shellback. This is a perfect boat for a 6 day class and allows the students to learn a broad range of new skills.   Students will set up the strongback and molds. They will make patterns and laminated frames. While building the Shellback’s lapstrake hull students will use traditional methods of cutting and fitting the planks. There will also be an opportunity to focus on some of the interior details like outwells, seats, and making and fitting knees. While offering something for most skill levels this class is geared towards the budding boatbuilder so, take the first step and build a few boats with veteran boatbuilding teacher Bill Thomas.

PS: No the course title in not an oxymoron. Boats using an early version of plywood were being built in the 1920s so the technology has been around for nearly 100 years.