GBP: First Phases of Skiff Building

taylorBoatshop, Girls' Boat Project, Youth Programs

The first week of November brought us back in to the Northwest Maritime Center boat shop, with much excitement to get our hands on more tools and continue with our individual and group project. The week also reunited us with our T.A/Girls Boat Project veteran, Emilia, which added to the group spirit. We also had boat shop regular volunteer, Marty, with us which really helped with explaining the tools and techniques needed to move forward.

Our long-term project as a group is the building of a Skunk Island Skiff, a wooden rowboat that is relatively light, super stable, and has been built by many youth and adults in our community in the past. The NWMC has a couple familiar models that are painted with various cheery colors and given student-picked names. This week brought us to our first steps of the boat building process: cutting out our templates, tracing out the bottom of the boat from a large piece of marine plywood extended to the length we need with a scarf joint, and the beginnings of gluing pieces with epoxy and hardener. K lead part of the group through the processes, and we took some time during our halfway break to observe the other Skunk Island Skiffs on campus to help visualize what we will be building over the coming weeks.

The individual projects the girls are working on are really cool tool tray designs with poplar wood. The first step involved drawing up the layout on each of the boards the girls are provided to create their tool tray from. This process needed the help of pencils, dividers, measuring tape, squares, and eventually the hand saw and band saw. The goal was to lay out the length and width of the sides of the boards, have them be consistent, and cut out the marked lines. After properly marked, the girls each found a table with a vice grip to hold their board, and got to work cutting between the marked lines of their layout. Many of them took to the band-saw to clean up their cuts and make them square. A few even got to the sanding process, and helped one another out with the various stages. The individual projects are really awesome because they give the opportunity to work as a group, together. With woodworking, strong suits come in different forms, so the girls have shown a lot of camaraderie in helping each other hold wood, measure, figure out how to use and adjust the tools, and techniques that have helped them in the past or along the way.

In our closing circle, there was a lot of feedback about feeling a strong sense of accomplishment, “I am surprised at how much I got done in the shop today,” was shared multiple times. One of the best parts about learning in the shop is allowing yourself to be patient with your learning process and others’ as well – it cultivates an amazing bond of empowerment, and that is one of the many parts of this program that is so gratifying to all involved.