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Core Skills: Sparmaking

Learn the steps to building both solid and hollow spars.

August 4 – August 10
Brooklin, Maine
John Harris
Experience Level
Activity Level

This is a five-day course ending Friday

Wooden spars are a sight to behold and complement almost any harbor in which they are found. John will guide you through the process of building solid and hollow spars. Building your own mast and boom, combined with fabricating some simple hardware, is a wonderful project that can save you money, and bring you the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

The course will be divided into two sections.  The first few days will cover wood selection, cutting scarf joints, building a spar bench, gluing up with epoxy, and sharpening hand planes. Time will be dedicated to looking over plans and having a real understanding of how masts function and are supported. You will learn how to build a mast using the eight-stave, bird’s-mouth method used by many boatbuilders for its simplicity and strength. You’ll also learn about solid-wood spars that will require little or no gluing and can be easily shaped with hand tools.

Mid-week you will shift gears and have the opportunity to build a spar from scratch.  If you have a spar you would like to build for a personal project, you can do that.  Otherwise, our fleet is usaully in need of some replacements.  You will only be able to build one spar for yourself during the course.  John will be happy to give some guidence to other spars for your project, but due to time and space, we can only accomodate one per student.

Throughout the week, John will touch on other spar construction techniques. Different spars as well as hardware details will be discussed.  This week promises to be a full one, so come ready to make plenty of shavings and turn out beautiful wooden spars!



Core Skills is a curriculum designed to complement and expand on our Fundamentals of Boatbuilding class. Each class in the Core Skills curriculum is focused on one core element of traditional small-boat construction. Our inaugural offering includes topics such as planking, setting up a building jig, and fitting out a boat. While these topics are covered as a portion of Fundamentals of Boatbuilding, Core Skills offers dedicated, weeklong exploration of each of them. Core Skills classes also offer hands-on learning of many of the topics introduced in our Mastering Skills video series. Students may take any or all of these classes in whatever order best suits them.

  • Who is this course best suited for?

    This course is appropriate for students with some knowledge and experience.  Basic knowledge and use of hand tools is required for most shop courses.

    This course involves a moderate level of activity throughout the week including: standing and working sometimes throughout the day, some hand planing or sanding, working on group projects that require occasional participation.

Access to experience

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