Boatbuilder’s Hand Tools
Making, restoring, and using traditional tools of the trade.
- Harry Bryan—June 11–17
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.
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 trying 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 handsaws, drawknives, chisels and slicks, auger bits, and planes. You’ll build one of Harry’s boat designs and develop skills such as how to cut the complex angle on the end of a deckbeam and have it fit the first time. You will gain the confidence to cut a stem rabbet and make short work of a plank scarf using a slick and 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.
The week will start with students making a 4’-long oar to be used as a weather vane. The skills required are exactly those needed to build a full-sized pair of oars, using a bandsaw, drawknife, spokeshave, eight-siding gauge, and plane. The base for the vane will build confidence in the use of hacksaws and files, as well as thread cutting with a tap and die. You’ll learn how to also join metals with silver solder. Later in the week, 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.