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The WoodenBoat School

Building the Amesbury Dory-Skiff

An exercise in traditional wooden boat construction.

Tuition: $850

Note: This is a six-day course ending Sturday afternoon. Previous boatbuilding/woodworking experience will be beneficial in this course.

Amesbury skiffs.

During the Victorian period, Amesbury skiffs were a common sight at resorts and as tenders for harbor use and clamming. They are a variation of the dory and are built in much the same manner; communally they are called “dory-skiffs.”

Founded in 1793 in Amesbury, Msassachusetts, Lowell’s Boat Shop is the birthplace of the American fishing dory. Thousands of dories and skiffs were manufactured at Lowell’s throughout the last two centuries. We invite you to join professional boatbuilder Graham McKay in constructing a traditional 14′ Amesbury rowing skiff. As lead boatbuilder at Lowell’s, Graham has extensive experience and insight into traditional dory and skiff construction methods.

Graham will use John Gardner’s The Dory Book as a construction guide through the course. The skiff will be built from traditional methods 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, using patterns lofted from plans and planking by eye. The skiff 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 the inwales bent 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 beautiful, new rowing skiff.


WoodenBoat School, 41 WoodenBoat Lane, PO Box 78, Brooklin, Maine 04616 USA
Tel: 207-359-4651, Fax: 207-359-8920

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