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Building A Classic Sea Chest

A project designed with the woodworker and boatbuilder in mind.

Tuition: $875

Materials: $159

Note: This is a six-day course ending Sturday afternoon.

Modern boatbuilding techniques

The sea chest, like the treasure chest or toy chest, seems to hold an implied promise of something great inside. When properly proportioned and constructed with care, this simple and elegant container can bring utility and enjoyment to generations.

This “hand tool” course will cover both the practical aspects of joinery and woodworking, and explore the rich connections between joinery, craftsmanship, and the lure of the sea – and how these things can enhance the human spirit. The degree of satisfaction that is derived from using a hand “edge” tool is largely dependent on the quality of the edge. Thus, we will be spend time sharpening, talking about sharpening, and exploring different systems and methodologies to maintain edges in optimal condition.

Modern boatbuilding techniques

There are two joints that will be the focus of this project. The first one is the humble and elegant dovetail. This sea chest (26” long, 17″ deep, 14″ high) might contain over 100 of them, depending on what size dovetails you lay out and how you count them. The other main joint is a mortice and tenon. This is the true “meat and potato” joint that is the mainstay of cabinetmaking and timber framing. Getting comfortable with these two joints, executed easily with hand tools, will give you a very solid grounding in the practice of traditional joinery.

We’ll also do some stuff that you might not have done before, like using a mortice plane to mortice hinges, drilling holes and clocking screws with a gimble, and cutting dadoes with a plane.

Modern boatbuilding techniques

We encourage you to prepare for this course by working on sharpening, getting comfortable with hand saws and chisels, and practicing dovetails and mortice and tenon joints on your own prior to the class. This will allow you a better chance of finishing your chest in the class, and give us a chance to answer technique questions that you unearthed by trying things on your own.

This promises to be a busy, informative week that everyone, even longtime woodworkers, will find enjoyable. Each student will have the opportunity to understand why wood can be such a wonderful building materials and to grow as a woodworker. And at week’s end, each will take home a nautical and handsome piece of furniture to last a lifetime.

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