Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Vermont Folklife Center Apprentice Program

The third boatbuilding project I have been involved with this fall is a teaching program sponsored by the Vermont Folklife Center called the Traditional Arts Apprentice Program.  I was approached by Tim Cook, an experienced timber framer and builder, about applying to the program so I could teach him boatbuilding.  I am happy to say we got our grant and we have been working together one day a week since October.
A year earlier I found this boat on the shores of Lake Champlain.  It has been there over thirty-five year according to its owner.  Many of the construction details are similar to a boat my high school students documented last year.  What was amazing and fortuitous is this boat had still retained its shape.  Critically the thwarts were intact, so we knew the flare of the sides was correct.  The only bottom planking remaining was in the shadow of the thwarts, but it told us the beam on the bottom was right also.

Tim and I brought the skiff into the shop and set it up on the lofting table and Tim measured it, and then I taught him how to loft the measured lines full-size.  Jake Burnham, the STEM teacher I work with on the high school trapping boats project, volunteered and created a detailed CAD drawing of the boat.

All in all, the lines required very little correction on the lofting.

From the lofting we built a mould setup on a strong back and got to work building the boat.

The original skiff has single-plank sides over sixteen inches wide, but I wanted Tim to learn as many boatbuilding techniques as possible, so we decided to plank it lapstrake.  The photo shows the gain, which allows the next plank to lay flush at the stem and transom.

Our two planks on, which later were fastened at the laps with copper rivets.

We crossed-planked the bottom and cut the caulking bevel by setting the table saw to 8 degrees.

Note how the caulking bevel is not across the entire edge.  The planks fit tight about one-third of their thickness and then the bevel begins.

Before planking the bottom Tim planed a caulking bevel running the length of the lower edge of the bottom plank.  This too will get caulked.

We cut the ends of the planks on the bandsaw, tilting the blade so we got a bevel equal to the angle of the side planking.  This saves us some work later.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wrapping Up Trapping Boats

The last week before Christmas break was our last week working as a class on our trapping boats at Hannaford Career Center.   Students will be busy over break writing papers about this project, which includes CAD drawings of our two boats (which I will share in the new year).

The Bessette boat getting final trimming.

The Mulliss replica waiting for thwarts and decks....

... and the original, which provided us all the information we needed.

Three students putting the final touches on the Mulliss boat.

Bessette boat done, except for painting.

Until one student noticed the edges of the rub rails needed rounding.

The Mulliss boat with thwarts and decks installed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Anderson Japanese Garden -- The Tenmasen

This year the Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, IL launched a boat I built for them the previous year.  The garden director promised me a portrait of the boat in the water (since I only had photos of her in my shop under construction, a project I blogged about here.  John Braud took the photo and won an honorable mention in the Garden's photo contest, well worth a look here.

The boat is modeled off the tenmasen canal cargo boat I built with my Tokyo teacher in 2002.  The Garden designer had restrictions on length so the blunt bow allowed me to maintain a bit more volume in the boat.  The bow is clad in copper, already gaining a brown patina.

I am scheduled to give a presentation on my work in Japan at the Garden on June 16, 2016, part of their Third Thursdays lecture series.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Hannaford Career Center Trapping Boats

The larger of our two trapping boats finally coming off the moulds.  This is the biggest trapping boat I have built with students, though we need to do more research on its use.  It may be this boat was used primarily for lake fishing.  Yet its double-ended shape is similar to most of the trappings boats we have found.

Building this boat took a bit longer because of the cross-planked bottom.  Our other boat has a plywood bottom, the first of its kind we have seen in a trapping boat.

One of the students taking a class selfie with their boat.

Our other boat off its moulds.

Rub rails being installed.

The stem cut off flush at the sheer.

The Bessette boat replica.

The Mulliss boat replica.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Boatbuilding at UVM -- The Auer Boat

The Auer boat is taking shape.  All that remains is the painting and then students are producing CAD drawings of the boat, an edited video of their interview with Christine Auer, as well as additional research.

A view of the stem of the original.

Students caulking the bottom seams.

We are hoping to launch this boat, perhaps in the University pool, sometime early next semester, but it will go on display at the Rubinstein Center on campus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Boatbuilding at the University of Vermont's Green House -- The Auer Livery Boat

This fall I've been teaching a boatbuilding class as part of a seminar for students living at Green House, UVM's environmental dorm.  We are researching a Burlington institution: the Auer Family Boat House, located at the mouth of the Winooski River for almost ninety years.

Auer Family Boat House is now run by Charlie and Christine, the two children of the founders.  They remember when their parents built the livery fleet from scratch.  This is the last remaining boat from the original fleet.  Basically it was just the two side planks with the remnants of the stem at one end, but amazingly, the Auers had their parents center mould from when they were building boats.

To call this a Burlington institution is an understatement.  This place is a complete throwback and one of the most charming spots in the city.  You can find it at the very end of North Avenue, or if you are on the bike trail, you can see it below you just before crossing the bridge at the Winooski River (heading north).

Christine is eighty-eight years old and she said this boat was built for her by her mother when she was five.  She reminisced about using it and we hope to get her in our replica.

Students started construction after first measuring the original.  Without the center mould we would never have been able to replicate this boat accurately, because we had no bottom planks to establish the beam at the chine and no intact thwarts to know the flare of the sides.  

As of our most recent class the boat came off the mould setup, fully planked, bottom seams caulked and puttied.  Now students are starting to layout the thwarts and rub rails and painting.  The of my students are in the engineering program and they feel confident they can create drawings of the boat in CAD and Solid Works.  This will be an important documentation of Burlington's waterfront history.

Trapping Boat Research at Hannaford Career Center

In a reprise of last year's class I am back again co-teaching the Hannaford Career Center's STEM class with Jake Burnham.  We brought two trapping boats into class, these built by different trappers than last year's boats.

Earle Bessette with the trapping boat he built in the early 1960s.  He said he copied the boats of a nearby trapper.  This is the smallest trapping boat I have seen, but Earle trapped a very narrow waterway in New Haven, Vermont.  The boat also has a plywood bottom, because as Earle said he didn't want to deal with a leaky bottom.  Smart man.

The other boat comes from the Mulliss farm in Bridport.  It is believe to have been built and used by Orville Mulliss, but we don't know this absolutely.  Its also the largest boat we've looked at and may not have been a trapping boat but used on the lake for fishing.

Students got right into taking the lines (measuring) the boats in preparation for drawing them in CAD.

Then came lofting, drawing the boats full-size.  This allows students to correct any errors in the lines-taking, fairing the lines to get as close an approximation of the true boat shape.

Once again we invited Greg Sharrow from the Vermont Folklife Center in to give students a training in oral interviewing techniques.  We interviewed Raymond "Bud" Bodette of Bridport on his memories of trapping and fish shooting.  His family had a trapping camp on the back of their farm.

We also visited the Hatch farm in Panton and looked at six of seven historic trappings boats built by Gerald Hatch from the 1950s to the early 1970s.  His son Pat has given us several interviews over the years and we have built replicas of two of these boats.

Our originals and the replicas under construction.  Stay tuned as we finish these boats and the drawings this fall term.

Friday, August 21, 2015

First Reactions

I have a couple of notices to link here, one a magazine the other a ship modeler's blog, both talking about my new book.  Thus far the reactions have been positive from buyers.  Keep an eye out for the November issue of WoodenBoat because the editors hoped to have a review published in that issue.

It is going to be a very busy fall for me teaching boatbuilding here in Vermont.  I do hope to have a public book event somewhere locally and this blog will be one place I will advertise it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Instagram - Brave New World

Can I be blamed for being slow to adopt social media?  After all, I've made a career of studying traditional boatbuilding, avoiding most new technology along the way.  Alas, with the help of a friend I have started posting photos of my boats on Instagram.  I am going to start with images from my new book (see previous blog post) so if you want to follow along you'll see various boat photos from Japan.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding - The book!

Last week I took possession of a sizable portion of the print run of my new book, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding.  This is the culmination of over twenty years of research.  The book covers specific topics such as design, tools, fastening, ceremonies, apprenticeship, and propulsion, followed by long sections detailing the construction of the five traditional boats of my apprenticeships.  The last chapter is about Japan's sole traditional shipwright who has led the construction of four replica Edo-era ships.  To order just visit my website: http://www.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com

If you order the book from me I am happy to sign and inscribe a copy for you.  Buying from me also directly supports my ongoing research.  If you live overseas shipping costs via US Mail can be quite high (at least $25 USD), so you will have to weigh the value of my signature.  I have an agent in Japan with a small inventory of books and he can send you an unsigned copy for very reasonable postage rates (the book is in English).

By clicking on the images below they should open large enough to read, particularly the Japanese order form.  You may contact my agent in Japan at: ahmoore@hotmail.com.  But if you have any questions or need more information about the book or how to order please email me at douglasbrooksboatbuilding@gmail.com.

Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding
320 pp,  8.5 x 11 / Hardcover
378 Color photos,  36 Drawings
Map, Notes, Bibliography, Glossary-Index of boatbuilding terms & regional usages
Boatbuilding / Woodworking / Japanese crafts