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Thread: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

  1. #1
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    Mar 2018
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    Phoenix
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    Default Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Howdy all, remember me? I'm that crazy kid who thought he could design a boat and then build it in a couple months with no prior experience (see previous thread). I was promptly educated as to why I should wait on that idea. I want to say thanks again to all the great builders and designers who set me straight. I also mentioned that I was going to NWSWB on my last post and one of you said I should start a post about my adventures there so here I am. Let's see... Where to start...

    Right off the bat, I am probably the youngest kid there... Barring one other kid everyone else has either graduated from a four year or is in their thirties... I am also probably the least skilled there in terms of the woodworking. I suppose that's to be expected as most of my prior experience has been on a lathe... Still it's a tad demoralizing. Moving on...

    We started boat school with beginning projects. Starting with half laps, we progressed through making bevel gauges, bevel boards, mallets, dovetails and toolboxes and some handplanes(some people modified theirs into backing out planes) we worked on some Carlin joints and rabbets as well... I need more practice, but alas, on to drafting. I am decidedly better at drafting than I am at woodworking... High school prepared me well for spending 8+ hours a day sitting in a chair creating tedious graphs with very little margin for error. I still, however even from a beginners standpoint do not claim to be good.

    Hopefully with practice I can become better at both the penwork, and the chiselwork.

    The teachers are all kind, compassionate, and very patient. So patient. More patient than I could ever be.. They explain things in a very clear manner and always thoroughly, but never in a way that seems condescending or rude. In terms of the quality of education, I don't really have much context as I haven't been to any other boat schools and it's quite different from high school was in every meaningful way, however I feel as though I am being well equipped for a job in the marine world.

    You all were right though, I have very little free time these days: barely enough to read half of a library book a week(i've been hiding from the school librarian). I did the math and I'll have about 900 hours of free time between now and when I next move... Do you guys think that's enough to build a traditional clinker?

    Anyway, I've stayed up way too late writing this... So signing off for the night,
    -Gabriel

  2. #2
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    SF Bay Area- Richmond
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    15,521

    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Glad to hear it is working out for you. I know some of the folks there, and have toured the facilities / shops several times. The NSWB has a program for restoring / repairing older boats, right? You might consider fixing up one of the many local "rescue" boats rather than building new, at least for the first attempt -- if the boat is in decent shape, restoration can be MUCH cheaper and faster than building new. You can then sell the boat to finance your new boat build later on.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    St. Helens, Oregon
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    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Congratulations on a great landing! NWSWB is a great place and I've every confidence you'll find yourself quite happy with your new skillset(s). Looking forward to subsequent posts!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by Badgerbuilder View Post
    Do you guys think that's enough to build a traditional clinker?

    There is no one answer to that question. So much depends on the vessel and the builder. However, you are in a good place to learn YOUR answer.

    Jeff

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Congrats on your decision to pursue formal education in boatbuilding - regardless of whether the currents of life keep you in the trade, what you learn there will benefit you throughout your life. As for building a boat while learning to build boats, my advise is 'don't do it'. You will not have time to complete it - ask me how I know this. If you have figured that you will have 900 hours of free time to work on this project, expect to cut that in half due to unexpected, unplanned demands on your time, such as social time with classmates, increasing workload of courses, sick days, romantic involvements, etc., etc. Also, as a poor struggling student, you may run out of money, even if you have adequate time. Use your free time to enhance your education and enjoyment of the place you find yourself in.

    One other bit of unsolicited advice, worth the cost of reading it: Your present course of training will not make you an accomplished boatbuilder. It will expose you to the tools, techniques, materials and attitudes required to be a boatbuilder. When you graduate, you will find work that will teach you how to be a good boatbuilder. In the years following, you will learn to be a good, fast boatbuilder. There are practitioners, tradesmen, and craftsmen. You are learning to be the first, and will likely become the second if you keep at it. If you have ambition, discipline, and really enjoy what you do, you will eventually become the last one, but it takes time. But it is a journey that is worthy of a lifetime of effort. As famous schooner-builder David Stevens told me once, "Book-learnin' is easy, hand-learnin' takes a lifetime." Be patient - it will come, and the discipline required is its own lesson.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Hollister, CA -- Paris of the West (not!)
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    62

    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Greetings,
    Class of 2014, traditional small craft/repair and restoration. I lived in the green cabin across the street (painted it myself for some extra $$ to spend on tools). Great experience. Please do NOT consider building a boat. I blundered into a canoe for the sum of $1, and it was fun to paddle around the area. My advice: use every opportunity to get onto other people's boats. Crew the shipwright's regatta (snowed on us that year, but we won our division). Make it clear that you're always game for on the water experiences.

    You'll leave a better sailor, and you'll have a better idea of what it is you want from a boat you build yourself.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    I've observed the boat building and other types of courses (design, systems, composites) at several schools such as NWSB. One thing to guard against is spending class/project/learning time on smartphones. Awhile ago I was in the visitors' gallery at a well respected East Coast program and was alarmed to see every single student on the floor checking their phones. It wasn't break time. I asked one of the instructors about it and they acknowledged it was a source of frustration for them and a terrible habit that simply wouldn't fly at a boatyard if that's where the student was intending to find employment. He said they had one student who they had to let go because he couldn't buckle down to his work, turn off the phone and pay attention. He was wasting his own and his partner's time, as well as his tuition.
    If I had a dollar for every girl who found me unattractive, eventually they would find me attractive.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2005
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    Saco, ME
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    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    I've observed the boat building and other types of courses (design, systems, composites) at several schools such as NWSB. One thing to guard against is spending class/project/learning time on smartphones. Awhile ago I was in the visitors' gallery at a well respected East Coast program and was alarmed to see every single student on the floor checking their phones. It wasn't break time. I asked one of the instructors about it and they acknowledged it was a source of frustration for them and a terrible habit that simply wouldn't fly at a boatyard if that's where the student was intending to find employment. He said they had one student who they had to let go because he couldn't buckle down to his work, turn off the phone and pay attention. He was wasting his own and his partner's time, as well as his tuition.
    Very interesting. I have a ZERO tolerance policy. The other day in a class I am teaching, I was probably a little too abrupt with a kiddo about it. But he also got the message. Perhaps it is easier for me as an outsider. I am only teaching this one section of the class for 6 weeks. Imagine dealing daily with this reality in a school! ArghhH!

    Gabriel, congrats on your choice! Sounds like you are already appreciating the experience and will soak it all up! If you are in Maine come visit my shop sometime.
    Clinton B. Chase
    Portland, Maine

    http://tinyurl.com/myboats

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    My wife, a retired science teacher, had a basket on her desk. All incoming students to her classes were instructed to turn their phones off during her lecture time. First offence caught resulted in the offending phone going into the basket for the remainder of that class and every class afterwards. Zero tolerance.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building: a students perspective

    Boat Designer. Boatbuilder

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