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Concepts of Stitch-and-Glue Design

Using models to learn modern plywood boatbuilding techniques suitable for small and large boats.

June 25 – July 1
Brooklin, Maine
Sam Devlin
Experience Level
Activity Level

This is a five-day course ending Friday

Any number of construction methods will produce a beautiful boat. But for many builders with mixed levels of experience and tight budgets, the choice is not so complicated. Traditional plank-on-frame and cold-molded construction require complex lofting and building molds, to say nothing of expensive tooling and lots of labor time. Stitch-and-glue construction, on the other hand, can produce the same results with a substantial savings in time and money. The process is quicker, easier, uses fewer parts, and produces a boat that is much simpler to maintain–without the construction molds, and with only the simplest lofting and tools required. Coupled with modern CNC (computer numerically controlled routers), simple hull and bulkhead kits are now available for hundreds of designs, opening up the library of possible hull types, shapes, and utilities to virtually any builder, whether full-time professional or hobbyist.

This course will provide a solid mixture of hands-on learning and design theory. Sam will cover the gamut of stitch-and-glue construction for both small and large boat designs, using various demonstrations and discussions. Students will have the opportunity to build a scale model of one of Sam’s larger boat designs. This will enable him to demonstrate the process of building a larger stitch-and-glue boat without the expense, logistics, and time of doing a full-sized boat. The class will also build several sample joints that will be tested to failure, and talk about the results.

Throughout the course Sam will cover plenty of theory, and he’ll offer the wisdom of a wooden boat builder who has been in business for 44 years and has built more than 400 boats from 8’ to 65’ long with the stitch-and-glue method. This will be a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of the skills, innovations, and business savvy that are necessary for survival in the real world as a boatbuilder (see WoodenBoat No. 91). The intent is that, under Sam’s guidance, you will pick up the skills, methods, and techniques that can make your projects more successful, whether they are backyard or professional boatshop endeavors. This week should be a wonderful consortium of construction techniques and dialogue to broaden your mastery of stitch-and-glue construction.

  • Who is this course best suited for?

    This course is appropriate for someone with little or no experience.  The course is designed around the idea that you have not done this before or know very little about the subject.  Students should pay more attention to suggested readings or videos to help familiarize themselves ahead of time.

    This course involves a low level of activity throughout the week including: occasional standing and working, seating is usually available, working on your own project at your own pace is common.

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