Boatbuilder’s Hand Tools
Making, restoring, and using traditional tools of the trade.
- Harry Bryan — June 9–15
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. They create a minimum of unhealthy noise and dust, which alone argues for their increased use.
Many of the pieces that make up a wooden boat are complex shapes employing compound angles and rolling bevels. Often it is more efficient to create these pieces with hand tools than to try to set up a machine that is not appropriate to the job at hand. This five-day course with well-known boatbuilder/ designer Harry Bryan will focus on developing skills with hand saws, drawknives, chisels and slicks, auger bits, and planes. You’ll build one of Harry’s boat designs and acuire skills, such as, cutting the complex angle on the end of a deck beam and having it fit first time. You will have the confidence to cut a stem rabbet and make short work of a plank scarf using a slick and a smoothing plane.
Keeping these tools sharp is absolutely necessary for controlled, accurate work. Therefore, time will be spent presenting simple, straightforward methods for creating a razor-sharp edge. 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.
Making and modifying tools is a natural progression for the hand tool user. Students will learn about hardening and tempering tool steel, as well as sawing, filing, and drilling to create precise shapes. There will be practice in the use of silver solder and rivets for joining metals. Each student will be encouraged to make a tool of their own during the week, such as a carving gouge, chisel, boatbuilder’s level, pencil divider, or if there is time, a slick or plane. 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.