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If anyone can help me it would be awesome. I want to build traditional wooden crafts and do it for a living. I am looking at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building. It looks like a good fit. Does anyone know if this is a good school? Or where else I should be looking? Thanks so much!:confused:
09-03-2009, 02:34 PM
It is a nice, small school run by a great bunch of talented people. They have a solid repuation. I would say that there is an emphasis on personal support and instruction with a decided leaning toward the traditional, while still using all of the modern materials and methods available. They do everything from traditional clinker built to cold molding, new builds, repairs and restorations. Hadlock is a quiet little old time port and the school is located in a very sweet little spot on the bay. If I won the lottery that would be a gift to myself; the full year at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building.
Thanks so much! Do you think it's the best place to obtain the right infor for when I am ready to find a job in boat building and restoration? Do you know if the demand is low, high, not even there these days?
09-04-2009, 08:40 AM
If you are willing to move a bit east, there are several programs in Maine. They include:
The Landing School - Traditional wooden boat building plus lots of marine systems programs - http://www.landingschool.edu/
The Rockland Apprenticeshop - Traditioanl wooden boat building - http://www.atlanticchallenge.com/apprenticeshop/index.shtm
Eastport Boat School - Everything from traditional wooden boats to modern composites - http://studentweb.nescom.edu/~boatschool/
Maine is a nice place to live and work, but it isn't as spectacular as western Washington. I know that first hand since I grew up in Washington and now live in Maine.
09-04-2009, 08:54 AM
Having looked long and hard at boat schools a few years ago and i even visited the major ones on the east coats (IYRS, Landing, Apprentice shop, etc.) I would have chosen the Apprenticeshop over the others for sure, had I not gotten a job repairing a yacht for a former boatbuilder, other repair work, lots of woodworking experience, and I have a shop available to me.......these assets and opportunities allowed me to just jump into it.
09-04-2009, 01:09 PM
Or, you could find a good wooden boat yard and offer to sweep the shop floor for free. If you sweep well, odds are they'll eventually pay you a few bucks to sand bottoms. After that, the sky's the limit! I can't claim to be an authority of "wooden boat schools," but they've always seemed as if they were the nautical equivalent of CPA's on Harleys, catering to dillettantes who showed up with dovetailed tool boxes full of brand new Lie Nielsen planes. I don't think an old time woodbutcher would give much respect to one of their diplomas. It seems the best wooden boat school is the nearest wooden boat. Culler said, "Experience begins when you start." or something like that. Somebody else said, "Those that can, do. The rest teach."
I'm sure there's lots to be learned in one of these schools and the price of tuition may be worth it, but from what I've seen, they aren't turning out a new generation of professional wooden boat builders by a long shot.
No axe to grind with them, just an observation.
09-04-2009, 01:10 PM
You don't say where you are, but if you are in the Northwest the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building is an excellent choice, but there are others. Bates Technical College in Tacoma WA has an excellent Boat Building School look here http://newboatbuilders.com/pages/links.html. On the right hand side of the page in the second row down is a pretty comprehensive list of boatbuilding schools.
Thanks for all of the info! I am in Folsom California. Its about 1 1/2 from the bay (sf). I would sweep any floor for free just to be around boats...If anyone knows a place in the Sacramento area, drop me a line. I am a hard worker just looking to get started!
Also on the West Coast there is the Arques School http://www.arqueschl.org/ in Sausalito and the Silva Bay Shipyard School http://www.boatschool.com (http://www.boatschool.com/) north of the border.
I realize that your question is about finding a quality boat school, but reading between the lines I think you are also asking if it is possible to make a living building traditional wooden boats. My advice is that you might want to consider getting an education in a more commonly recognized trade such as carpenter or cabinet-maker. With those trades you have increased your chances of staying employed by ten-fold and you are learning skills that are easily transferable to boat building. With a steady regular job you can maintain a home with a garage and in that garage you can build whichever boat your heart desires at whatever speed you choose, when it is done, park it on your boulevard with a "For sale" sign on it. If it sells, you are a "boat builder" If you make good money on it, build another. Somehow I suspect you won't.
When interviewing schools ask them for names and phone numbers of grads, not just current, but past grads as well, Call these guys and see what they are up to, if it still sounds like the lifestyle you want to live, I say go for it.
09-04-2009, 05:15 PM
Come out to Sausalito and plan on hanging out for a number of days. Several schools there, some groups of semi-amateur builders, etc. Also some building going on in the Berkeley Marina and nearby areas, including "The Waterside Workshops".
School is one thing, making a living at it quite another.
09-04-2009, 05:42 PM
i agree with thorne, and therefore must also join with cleek. go to wooden boat yard and start sweeping for free. you might hvae to sleep on a cot for a yr. but ultimately, you will find fruit on the tree. i had to volunteer for six months with no pay to start my career, and unfortunately, it wasn't building wooden boats.
09-05-2009, 04:40 AM
Given that they don't teach wordwork shop at high-school these days, do you think those with the desire, but not the shop skills, would be best to attend a boatbuilding school before finding a broom sweeping position, or would that be a waste of time?.
09-05-2009, 11:39 AM
. . .is it possible to make a living building traditional wooden boats?
Short answer: nope. All of the boatbuilders I know who work in traditional wooden boats make their living fixing boats, with the very occasional new commission a delightful but relatively unprofitable plum. Repairs and restorations are pretty much what keeps the doors open at Emerald.
Are there jobs for beginning boatbuilders?......absolutely!......but that is, (and always has been) totally dependent on you. Attending school opens doors for some, and is a dead end for others. Pushing a broom is a dead end for some, and for others it's the door to a whole new world.
Boatbuilding skills not transferable?......nonsense!.......if you can build a boat you can build anything......a house, a musical instrument, or a movie set.
Boat Building schools produce dilettantes? Ask these guys about that http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=88301
Any good school will put you in direct touch with some of their graduates......that is who you need to talk with.
Ray Frechette Jr
09-05-2009, 12:50 PM
Realize though that right now today Boatbuilding business is severely on the ropes.
I know of several traditionl shops as well as fiberglass shops that a year and a half ago were begging for people who could breathe, show up on time sober and do a task they were shown how to do.
Now they are either on skeleton staff desperatly trying to fins things for their core employees to do, or shut down entirely in mothballs waiting for things to turn around.
Go to many shops anbd thew floors won't need any sweeping at all...
maybe sweeping cobwebs, but not much to be learned there..
And you really have to question how much sense ti makes to invest in boat building school when there are so many boat builders unemployed waiting to get back to work...
Granted there are more signs of life now than last winter, but it sure ain't booming and while there may be inquiries, from what I here there aren't many checks being written right now neithah...
Thanks! Yeah I am definately curious if I can make a living doing this. Not to get rich but really just to be able to feed myself, pay bills and most of all finally be happy doing something I LOVE. I am not someone who is hung up on money I just want to build and see the results and I love boats. Hopefully this will lead into fiberglass.....probably a bit more demand there??
09-08-2009, 12:01 PM
Hopefully this will lead into fiberglass
Be very careful what you pray for.
Most of us would see it the other way around.
Go to school and sweep floors at the same time.
At school you'll need to learn how to run all kinds of cutting tools and once you dull them you'll need to learn how to put and edge back on them.
Look for a suitable long term place to fix your own boat, then find one.
Get a large piece of junk and surprise all the doubters by making her servicable again.
Well thanks for your info and opinion. I'm really just looking for good info from people who have either succeeded or have been burned...both sides can provide valuble info. I have been getting a lot of info in regards to going to school...So I will dothat....who knows....maybe the economy will make a turn for the best and we can all flourish in what makes us happy. In the meantime I'll keep collecting info. I am always careful what I pray for. I dont see any harm in praying for something that makes you happy, whether its for the money or not..thanks again! Do you like Maine?
09-08-2009, 01:02 PM
Take a look at the second story on this page http://newboatbuilders.com/pages/successstory.html Eric did pretty much what you want to do. But, he doesn't just build boats. He does a lot of things to make a living. Go to his web site and e-mail him. He'll give you the straight answers. http://erichvalsoe.googlepages.com/home
09-08-2009, 04:13 PM
I bought a wood blue jay on a trailer for 100.00, a couple blocks from my house. Painted her up and sailed her for a couple of summers and sold her today for $1,000 (cheap) and I'm not in the business.
There is wood and shops all over Maine with a gigantic maritime building tradition.
Thanks god for the black flies they do keep the undesirebles nearer the Cape. And it is difficult to wrap the mind around 3,500 miles of coastal cruising. It ain't just about building. Folks in Maine still seek new wood boats, even the lobstermen.
Magine a fishery that is having woodboats built?
Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
09-10-2009, 12:23 AM
I have seen ads for boats from students at the Northwest school, I think at least several over the years have bought a small cruiser, fixed it up both as a class project, and to sell afterward to defer costs of tuition.
From what I can see, there are a lot of bargains to be had on wooden boats these days. At least, a bargain for someone who has the skills and inclination to put in the work, as long as you can find one where that would be the bigger cost versus materials.
Develop skills you can fall back on for jobs, that are widely applicable. Good woodworking skills, metalworking skills, working with composites, those all have applications in many different jobs. However I think I have listed them in decreasing order of specialization, for the world these days; Good woodworkers can find jobs doing cabinetry work in houses, and houses are still common, though not sure about the money for custom cabinetry. Demand for metal work is not a fraction of what it used to be in the US. Skill with composites is primarily fiberglass boats, there may still be good demand for that, and more exotic work on prototype aircraft, there are not a lot of jobs there, very specialized.
For ANY vocation or profession, get good math skills, at the least, basic algebra and most especially trigonometry and geometry, and also have sufficient writing skills to draft a competent report. Bonus points if you take Chemistry 1 and Physics 1, both classes will go a long way to helping you understand the world around you, as well as make you safer around the shop.
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