For those who want to learn the basics of traditional boatbuilding through hands-on experience but are not seeking a 2-year commitment, we offer a 12-week small boatbuilding program. With guidance from instructors, you work alongside apprentices and participate in the Apprenticeshop community, while independently completing your own project.

The 12-week Small Boatbuilding Program introduces students to boatbuilding through the construction of a 12-foot, flat-bottomed lapstrake rowboat, the Susan Skiff. Participants may take the boat home upon completion or leave it at the Shop to be sold to benefit Shop programs. All tools, materials, and supplies are provided, though participants are encouraged to bring their own tools if they have them.

The 12-week program allows for the completion of the Susan skiff at a comfortable pace for most students. 12-week participants are active members of the Shop community, participating in Friday walk-around, Shop clean up, field trips, seamanship, and other Shop activities. Participants who have the most successful experience in the 12-week program are curious and self-motivated, yet willing to seek help and ask questions.

For more information about the Apprenticeshop, daily schedule, school policies, etc., please see our student handbook here.


The outline below shows the typical construction schedule for a Susan Skiff. Each student’s experience may vary somewhat.

Weeks 1 & 2: Orientation, Safety, and Backbone Construction

  1. Rabbeting the stem

  2. Putting together the transom

  3. Milling and fitting the chines

  4. Securing the stem, transom, and chines in place on the construction jig

Skills introduced:

  • How to select wood and grain

  • How to use a chisel and mallet

  • How to use a hand saw

  • How to cut a rabbet (translating 2-dimensional patterns to 3-dimensional objects)

  • How to spline and glue

  • How to use the table saw, chop saw, bandsaw, and thickness planer

  • What a bevel is and how to cut one

  • How to use and adjust a hand plane

  • How to bend wood

  • Types of fasteners and how to use each one

  • How to seal, bed, and fasten

  • How to set up and true a construction jig

  • How to deal with compound angles

  • How to put together the basic backbone of a boat

Weeks 3 & 4: Fundamentals of Planking

  1. Fitting and fastening the keelson

  2. Lining off

  3. Installing the garboard

Skills introduced:

  • Design and layout

  • Fairing by eye

  • Fitting

  • How to cut a gain

Weeks 5 & 6: Planking

  1. Installing the second strake and sheer (remaining planks)

  2. Fairing the chines for bottom planking

Skills introduced:

  • How to spile

  • How to rivet

Weeks 7 & 8: Bottom Planking and Longitudinal Structure

  1. Fairing the chines for bottom planking

  2. Installing bottom planking

  3. Installing the keel, keelson and rub strips

Skills introduced:

  • How to use the joiner

  • How to cut a caulking bevel

  • Different methods of caulking

Weeks 9 & 10: Fitting and Structural Components

  1. Installing the frames, breasthook, quarter knees, and inwales

Skills introduced:

  • How to use a camber gauge

  • Finish carpentry

Weeks 11 & 12: Finish Carpentry and Final Detail

  1. Installing thwart risers, thwarts, oarlock pads, and rub rails

  2. Painting and oiling

Skills introduced:

  • How to sand

  • Different kinds of finishes and what they’re used for

  • How to paint

  • How to use a router

  • How to cove

  • Techniques for making patterns

  • Different kinds of boat hardware

  • Splicing (optional)



$6,000 includes tuition, material costs, and a finished boat.

The 12-week program is approved for the use of Veteran’s Administration educational assistance benefits by the Maine State Approving Agency for Veterans Education Programs, including GI Bill® and the Vocational Rehabilitation programs. The school’s VA Facility Code is 28021119.


  • October 1st, 2019

  • January 13th, 2020

  • March 30th, 2020

You can find our complete 2020 school calendar here.

Inquire with Nina Noah, Director of Student Affairs and Outreach, with questions at ninanoah@apprenticeshop.org.