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Boatbuilder’s Hand Tools

Making, restoring, and using traditional tools of the trade.

Tuition: $825

Materials: $53

Working with hand tools

In spite of the ever-increasing number of power tools in the woodworking/boatbuilding trades, the foundation of the boatbuilder’s skills is still largely dependent on the use of hand tools. Hand tools bring you in close contact with wood, enabling the user to get to know and work with its grain structure.

Good work with hand tools depends largely on the craftman’s ability to create and maintain a truly sharp edge. An accurate system for creating the correct initial bevel is fundamental to this process. Each student will build their own cordless drill-powered tool dresser like the one described in WoodenBoat #265 and learn to use it to create precise bevels on blades for chisels, planes, spokeshaves, etc. Demonstrations and hands-on work will then focus on the use of oil and water stones for creating the final edge.

Hand planer

This five-day course with well-known boatbuilder/designer Harry Bryan will focus on developing skills with handsaws, drawknives, chisels and slicks, auger bits, and planes. From setting and filing a handsaw, to renewing the edge of a drill bit for cutting steel, we will learn to restore tools rather them toss them aside when they are dull. You’re invited to bring along any old tools that you feel may be candidates for restoring. Harry will also discuss where to acquire good tools, how to avoid wasting your money on cheap ones, and how to recognize and restore that jewel covered with the rust of neglect.

The week will include interesting woodworking projects related to boatbuilding. You’ll also learn how to also join metals with silver solder. Throughout the five days students may wish to choose a project of their own, such as to make a brass or wooden bevel, pencil divider, or to shape, harden, and temper a chisel.

Hand tools are not a nostalgic holdover from the past. After this fascinating week with Harry Bryan, you’ll feel the direct connection between the craftsman and his work.

Harry Bryan is one of the best experiential teachers I have met or learned from. Extremely patient and encouraging.”
N.H., Columbus, Ohio
Harry Bryan is passionate about his craft. Even if I was not even slightly interested in hand tools, he made the course extremely enjoyable. I can’t wait to return home and start refurbishing the rest of my own tools.”
L.P., Holden, Maine
Harry Bryan has a wonderful, humble way of imparting his great wealth of knowledge. He possesses great humor, is never condescending, and is incredibly patient.”
B.D., Flagstaff, Arizona