Traditional Boat Building

Great Lakes Boat Building School’s Traditional Boat Building & Classic Woodworking Program is carefully designed to give our students a broad course of study in the methods and materials required of today’s wooden boat builder.  In the first year of study, students will learn the woodworking skills required to build vessels in the traditional carvel and lapstrake methods. They will also work with the modern techniques and materials used in the construction of wood/epoxy composite craft.

The classroom curriculum is divided into 2 semesters. In the first semester students take “Basic Joinery” and “Traditional Boat Building” courses where they learn basic woodworking techniques and traditional lapstrake and carvel boat building methods.

In the second semester students are exposed to modern boat building techniques in Composite Wooden Boat Building 1, marine finishing systems in “Marine Finishes”, and advance woodworking skills in “Interior Joinery”.

In-depth lectures are coordinated with hands-on projects that increase in complexity as the student’s skill and confidence grow. This first year of learning prepares students for an entry-level career in the wooden boat building industry.


  • To become proficient in the use and maintenance of traditional hand woodworking tools and be capable of producing complex joinery projects.
  • To become competent in the use of power woodworking machinery.
  • To understand the lofting process and be able to accurately produce a full scale lofting of small and medium size vessels.
  • To understand the structure of the traditional wooden boat and be skilled at producing any of its parts.
  • To have knowledge of the epoxy/wood composite boat building technique and materials and their application.
  • To have an awareness of the safety and health issues associated with the machinery and materials used in the marine trades industries and to develop work habits that minimize these hazards.

What People Say

Thank you so much for doing such a beautiful job on the
Marilyn Jean. Everyone loves her!

Wayne B., Commissioned Boat Client July 14, 2017

What Will You Build Next?