Girls’ Boat Project: Transom Building & Tool Practice!

Kelsey BrennerAll, Girls' Boat Project, Youth Programs

By Taylor Austin, Girls’ Boat Project Instructor

Over the past few weeks in the shop, the group has been focused on skill-building and practicing with various tools as we continue building tool trays and parts of what will be our boat!

Big news is we have a transom! Made out of Sapele wood, the process included making a transom pattern, and gluing separate pieces onto the transom blank using a dowel jig, wooden dowels, and a tight bond—then we traced the pattern onto the blank and cut the transom stock to shape using a bandsaw. Now it is ready to be mounted on the strongback, which we also built! The strongback is what we will build our boat on, and will aid us in keeping with the centerline as we build. The girls used chisels to cut out the notches for the centerpiece to rest and power drills for fastening in place.

A lot of the work we have done so far in progress towards building the boat has been preparation for the actual build—milling, making wood patterns, and practicing with the tools that will be used when we are assembling.

We have also been working with the drill press, which we will use to cut out holes for what will be rope handles on our tool trays. We have been practicing adjusting the settings of the press, trying out different bits, and cutting through a couple different types of scrap wood to get a feel for how various wood types are to press through.

With our tool tray project, we have been working with grooving planes, which we will use to make grooves in the long sides of our tray pieces to slide the bottom piece into. A big part of using those planes is clamping, and figuring out where to put clamps to best hold the wood that is being worked.

On our last meeting before the holiday break, we had a hot chocolate party and chatted about our end-of-the-year plans. We will meet again the first week of January and continue with our build!


In the Girls’ Boat Project, middle school girls learn woodworking and boat building techniques in our Boatshop as they work on their own projects and as a team to build a boat! The program is led by women role models from our Northwest Maritime Center staff who are skilled in woodworking, boat maintenance and other maritime skills. This year our instructors are Ginny Wilson and Taylor Austin.

Women and Girls’ programs at Northwest Maritime Center welcome those who identify as women and girls regardless of assignment at birth. These programs also welcome people who identify as non-binary or gender nonconforming and want to be in a female-centered environment.