Building a Dory
The elegance of traditional workboat construction.
- Graham McKay—September 3–9
A century ago, dories were found everywhere along the New England coast—they would carry a good load under sail or oar, they could handle rough seas, and they were relatively easy to build. There are tales of small hardworking shops turning out 20 dories in 20 days! Lowell’s Boat Shop, founded in 1793, is the birthplace of the American Fishing Dory. Thousands of dories were manufactured at Lowell’s throughout the last two centuries. We invite you to join professional boatbuilder Graham McKay from Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in constructing a traditional 15 Banks Dory. As the head boatbuilder at Lowell’s, Graham has extensive experience and insight into traditional dory construction methods.
Graham will use John Gardner’s The Dory Book as a construction guide through the course. The boat will be built from traditional materials with the bottom and topsides planked in northern white pine and the frames, stem, and other parts made of white oak. Laps will be secured with copper rivets, and the frames will be joined at the chines with riveted stainless-steel clips.
Using traditional Lowell’s building methods, lofting will be minimal, with the students using patterns lofted from plans and planking by eye. The dory will be built upright so that plank lines can be sighted and the rivets easily reached. By week’s end, the hull should be completely planked and frames and the inwales steamed into place and fastened.
Graham will cover building from plans, copper-riveting, caulking, spiling, beveling and lap fitting, steam-bending, and other traditional skills. This will be a fast-moving, exciting class where everyone will be actively involved. And if you’re lucky in the class lottery on Saturday, you could be the winner of a brand-new fishing dory!