The Dory Shop

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada | (902) 640-3005 |

Stories from the The Dory Shop

Build a dory with us!

There’s still one space available in our next dory building course, taking place May 12-23, 2014, at our historic shop here on the edge of the Old Town Lunenburg UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nova Scotia, Canada.

We really enjoy these two-week courses designed to introduce participants to the basics of boatbuilding as they work together to construct a traditional wooden Banks dory under the tutelage of our master builder Jay Langford.

We continue to marvel at the interesting folks who’ve joined us for these sessions, and we genuinely like showing them around our community, including visits to neighbouring marine enterprises, like sail lofts and block shops, and of course Bob and Rose at Greybeard’s Bed and Breakfast where you’ll be served delicious lunches included in your course fees.

In fact, your fee of $950 Canadian includes all tools, materials, break-time snacks, even taxes. And although we can’t offer you lodging ourselves, we’re happy to assist you in finding accommodations that fit your needs and budget.

But back to the most important thing!

Your boatbuilding experience will begin, quite literally, in the lumber pile as Jay discusses the characteristics of good boat lumber, what passes as an acceptable defect (one that can be reliably corrected) and what doesn’t, how to select lumber so as to minimize waste, etc. Your very first morning, you will help select planks for the dory bottom.

Making the bottom is a critical step in the boat’s construction and will take 1.5 to 2 days. Planks must be planed for thickness. They must be fastened together with oak battens. And the critical bottom bevel must be just right or it will cause trouble through the rest of the build. This is careful handwork. Participants will learn to use hand planes and also to use a small caulking iron to add cotton wicking to the seams of the bottom. Participants also cut and shape the oak stem and sternpost.

Once completed, the dory bottom is placed on moulds and the stem and stern are installed along with the jigs around which the dory will be made. These jigs are ready-made, some of them dating back to the time of the original Bluenose, however instruction will also include a discussion of the lofting of boats from plans and how to create patterns and jigs for future projects. At this point, participants are also introduced to the fairing batten and how to ensure the boat is plumb and fair.

Planking can now begin in earnest and will take the rest of the week. Participants will learn laying out, lining and spiling; splicing and beveling; hanging and fastening. There will be much discussion and ample practice of lapstrake construction techniques.

Once fully planked, participants learn to select, shape and install the boat’s frames, known in a dory as knees. This is followed by construction and installation of the gunwales, caps, and breast plate. The structurally complete boat must then be finished – thwarts (seats) made, nail tops puttied, the whole thing carefully primed and painted.

The second week culminates in the launch of the boat and a celebratory row around the harbour, but not before an ultra-secret dory builder initiation ceremony!

Our dory course is designed for people with basic woodworking skills. You need not be a cabinetmaker but should know which end of a hammer to hold!

For more information or to sign up, please contact us.