This article is Lesson 1 of a series. See bottom of page for links to additional articles in this series.—Ed.
Sparks is a science project. A professional builder working for a client has the responsibility of delivering the boat on time and budget with no surprises so we generally stick to what worked last time. But as a science project, questioning the way things are usually done, pushing the limits of the materials and then taking the responsibility becomes the objective. Because failure is anticipated with any experiment, testing is an important part of the project and has been a whole lot of fun with few surprises, mostly pleasant.
This winter (2011) in Bay City, Michigan, we’ve seen a couple big snow falls and lots of small ones with 1″ to 2″ of accumulation. Not enough snow to bother breaking out the snow blower, so I usually shovel it by hand. About 10 years ago I fell in love with the plastic snow shovels that are lightweight and the snow slides off of them easily compared to the metal snow shovels that are heavy and snow clings to stubbornly.
My problem with plastic shovels is they wear out after one or two seasons at best because my driveway is made of fiber reinforced concrete. It is like a huge piece of 80-grit sandpaper waiting to devour my plastic shovels. Continue reading →
Early last spring I was working for a talented woodworker in a quaint little wood shop in Nashville, Tennessee. He showed me a strip built canoe, something I’d never seen before. The wheels in my head started turning. I was completely captivated.
Rushing home and searching the internet, I could not believe the information and pictures that took hold of my imagination. I was in utter amazement one minute, jealous the next. In my former experience as a musician, I’d had no idea this kind of craftsmanship, experience, and talent existed in today’s world of “fast and now.” Continue reading →
We sailors sometimes think of ourselves as adventurers and explorers, self sufficient and capable of handling the vagaries of wind and weather. But our view of voyaging includes refrigeration to keep the food and drink cold, sail handling and navigation systems to make sailing easy and safe, and a good dry, comfortable boat so we remain content while sailing to the ends of our own personal world. When we compare that to the skills and equipment of early voyagers, it can be almost embarrassing. Continue reading →
Here at the Gougeon Brothers’ Boat Shop, Meade and Jan Gougeon are preparing for another attempt at The Everglades Challenge.
An autopilot steering failure on his sailing scow Yello Thing forced Meade to withdraw from the 2010 Everglades Challenge. When he reached the shore, he was already thinking about building another boat for the next race.Continue reading →
Do you sometimes need a replacement part for your boat, home or recreational vehicle and find out its no longer available? Discontinued. Source unknown. Can’t be found. Maybe the price borders on insanity or, you need a part that simply does not exist and never did.
“Okay,” you say, “I need it, can’t get it, my only option is to make it.”
As soon as you reach this decision, two thoughts pass through your mind. “How will I make it?” and “What materials shall I use?” You may have a third question like, “Am I the only one that has these problems?” Continue reading →
I work here at Gougeon Brothers, Inc. as Operation Supervisor in the epoxy department where we do production mixing, assembly, packaging and quality control of the epoxy products. A lot of the guys I work with here ride motorcycles. In talking with these guys, I found out that it is not uncommon to punch a hole in the ignition housing cover. In fact, that’s what happened to my bike. Continue reading →
The Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine, teaches students decision-making skills, care, patience, forethought and responsibility through traditional boatbuilding. Instructors guide each apprentice through building two to four boats during a two-year apprenticeship.
The philosophy behind The Apprenticeshop is that learning is best accomplished through direct experience. Apprentices in this program learn craftsmanship and problem solving through each step of wooden boat construction from lofting, molds, framing, planking and decking to finish work and rigging. Continue reading →
After earning a B.A. in Philosophy, David Cumming began his craft by restoring lesser furniture (often salvaged) and then trading “up” for better pieces, learning about the nature of furniture construction in the process. Continue reading →