We have 15 small boats and certainly didn’t need another one, but in talking with Maynard Bray, WoodenBoat’s Technical Editor, about the best options for small boats that families could build together as well as for introducing our granddaughter to boats, he said, “You should build her a Nutshell Pram.” That planted the idea in our heads, and we bought the plans, to look them over. When we got bored this past winter, we decided to build the little Nutshell. We’re very happy that we did.The Nutshell was designed in 1983 by naval architect Joel White. “This little packet,” he wrote, “grew out of a discussion with Jon Wilson and Maynard Bray over the winter about why so many designs for plywood boats are complicated, unattractive, and unsuccessful.” He emerged from the conversation with Maynard and Jon, WoodenBoat’s founder, to design a good-looking pram that would be easy to build with 8′ plywood sheets, consisting of only 27 parts for the rowboat version. Joel built the first of the prams, and almost four decades later Maynard still has the prototype and Jon’s family still has the first production model.Although kits are available, we chose to build our Nutshell from scratch using the plans and Maynard’s 1987 book, Building the Nutshell Pram, as our guide. Its 32 pages guide the builder through the steps of putting the pram together as well as rigging information for the sailboat model and sailing tips. The Nutshell’s glued lapstrake construction offers tremendous strength to the hull and ease of construction, and the traditional pram shape brings out the attribute of workboat utility.

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