In 1978, when I was setting up to build my first boat, I needed to start accumulating tools. My shop was a temporary shed in the back yard of the house I grew up in, so my dad’s tools were available, but the only power tool he had was an electric drill. As a kid, I’d been able to get by with his tools making forts along the back fence, two bunkbeds for myself, and a darkroom in the garage, but they weren’t going to suffice for boatbuilding.The boat I started with was a dory skiff, and the limitations of Dad’s handsaws, hammers, and chisels came into sharp focus when I tried shaping its curved stem from a piece 2″-thick white oak. After I had traced the shape, I made dozens of short cross-cuts up to the line, whacked out the blocks in between with a chisel and a hammer, then finished up with a rasp and a file. It was painfully slow work, and I was pretty sure that if I ever finished the boat I’d never build another.
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