Winter Boatbuilding Workshop: the Nordic Pram


Building the Nordic Pram with Matt Billey

WHEN: January 7 – February 6, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-9PM

Lowell’s Boat Shop Members: $715

Nonmembers: $795

Non-Refundable $200 deposit required at time of registration


A minimum of four students is required to run this class; we reserve the right to cancel due to under-enrollment.

The Norse pram is a utility dinghy with a transom bow rather than a pointed bow. This type makes more efficient use of space than does a traditional skiff of the same size. It is simply built, with overlapping softwood planks, U-shaped cross sections, and grown ribs “joggled” to fit type over the planks —  and has lots of fore and aft rocker.

In this class, we’ll have fun learning about boat building with minimal use of plans or drawings. We will form the shape of the boat, as has been done for countless generations in the northland of Scandinavia, with our eyes and hands alone. We’ll hone our skills in the usage of battens, fitting plank-lap bevels, fastening with Norse copper rivets, and fitting grown “crook” ribs. In keeping with the old-world working heritage of the type, our pram will have rustic structural detailing and will be finished with linseed oil and pine tar.

The class will build one boat that will be raffled off for the cost of materials on the last day.

Instructor: Matt Billey has been building traditional wooden boats for the better part of 25 years. He got his feet wet at the Apprenticeshop of Rockland from 1996-98. His experience spans from small dory skiffs up to large wooden ship restoration projects such as the schooner Adventure and many, many other mid-sized boats in between. Having Swedish and Finnish ancestry, he has a strong affinity for traditional Scandinavian watercraft. In addition to boat building, Matt also designs and builds bespoke wooden furniture, art sculptures and one-of-a-kind wooden boat baby cradles. He lives aboard his self-built 27-foot Danish double-ender, Jette, around the Northshore of Massachusetts.

Tools and Woodworking: the Basic Basics

WHEN: SATURDAY, JANUARY 18 from 9am-2pm & SUNDAY, JANUARY 19 from 9am-1pm

$195 member

$215 nonmember

$25 materials fee per student (to be paid before first class meeting)

In this introduction to tools and woodworking we’ll begin with the most basic skills and concepts, and then build on that foundation. If you’re intimidated by tools and the idea of working with your hands, don’t worry — you can do this! The pace in the class will be relaxed and catered to the students’ needs and questions, including time to explore ideas and particular repair and woodworking issues.

We’ll focus on understanding and using the common hand tools needed for home repair and basic woodworking projects, and discuss what tools to buy and which ones to avoid. The class will also learn to sharpen basic edge tools and evaluate which wood is appropriate for your repairs and projects. We’ll also talk about glue and which one to have on hand. In the process of covering all this we’ll practice these new skills as each student builds a basic toolbox to help them organize the tools they have or will be buying.


Build a Model Boat with Paul Moscardini

Wednesday evenings, 6-9PM

February 5 through March 25, 2020

Limit: 10 Students

Member fee: $195

Nonmember fee: $215

Paul Moscardini, Instructor

Build a scale model of the historic Banks Dory developed by Hiram Lowell & Sons for the US Coast Guard and the Gloucester schooner fleet. Included with the model are the tools of the fishermen. Models are built from scratch; all materials are provided and are included in the cost of the course.

Students will provide their own tools and paints; there is a basic tool kit available for $20 for those who don’t have tools.

Lofting Workshop with Douglas Brooks

WHEN: February 7, 8, 9 from 10AM-4PM each day

Lofting is an essential first step in the boatbuilding process, and yet by nature it is extremely difficult to learn in any other way than by doing it. Lofting involves drawing full-size the lines of a boat in order to check the dimensions for accuracy and to provide patterns for construction. In this workshop students will learn all the steps involved in lofting a 16-20 foot boat. Using a table of offsets students will work fairing the lines, expanding the transom and lofting the stem rabbet. Techniques for developing molds from the lofted cross-sections will be discussed and cutting the stem rabbet from the lofting will be demonstrated. Half model-making, related to lofting, will also be discussed.

No prior experience is necessary. Students should bring a carpenter’s square (if they have one) and bring some pencils.

Member fee:  $225

Nonmember fee: $250

Instructor: Douglas Brooks is a boat builder, writer and researcher. He specializes in small boats built to traditional designs and he has taught boatbuilding across the United States and Japan. He has also studied traditional Japanese boat building since 1996, having apprenticed with seven different boatbuilders throughout the country. He has written for WoodenBoat magazine, Maritime Life and Traditions, and Classic Boat among other publications. His fourth book, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding, is the first comprehensive survey of the craft published in any language. His work can be seen at his website

February Vacation Family Woodworking Project

WHEN: February 17, 18, and 19 from 1-3pm

Looking for something fun to do with your kids during school vacation? Join us at Lowell’s Boat Shop on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 1-3pm for our Woodworking for Families workshop! Experienced instructors will teach you and your children how to build your choice of projects (birdhouse or model boat) using traditional hand tools. The kids will learn basic woodworking skills, and get lots of hands on practice. We’ll have enough instructors to handle a range of age groups; children must be accompanied by an adult. (Charge is per child, adult supervisors are free.) Give us a call if you have questions or concerns.

Member Fee: $95

Nonmember Fee: $105

Intro to Boatbuilding: Shellback Dinghy

WHEN: This course is held over two consecutive 3-day weekends, March 20-22 & 27-29;

class runs from 8:30am – 5pm each day, with a half day on the final Sunday.

Lowell’s Boat Shop Members: $750

Nonmembers: $825

Non-Refundable $250 deposit required at time of registration


A minimum of four students is required to run this class; we reserve the right to cancel due to under-enrollment.

If you’re curious about the boatbuilding process or ready to jump in and start building your first boat, this class is a great way to get started. No previous experience is required, simply a desire to learn. In this class students will build the hull of a good-looking classic design, the rowing version of Joel White’s venerable Shellback Dingy.

Instructor Bill Thomas will cover the basics of boat design and how to read and understand plans. Students will learn about plywood and solid wood, fasteners, glues and epoxy, and will work with fiberglass cloth. Construction methods will employ a combination of traditional techniques and modified glued-lap plywood construction. We’ll set up a strongback and molds, and make patterns and laminated frames. While building the Shellback’s lapstrake hull, students will use traditional methods of cutting and fitting the planks.

During the class there will also be time to discuss what you’ll need to set up your building space and get started with your own project.

Instructor: For over 40 years Bill Thomas has been a woodworker, designing and building custom projects — from cabinetry and furniture, to sailboats, powerboats, kayaks and canoes — for a wide range of clients. He teaches woodworking and boatbuilding in numerous locations around the country, including Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, the WoodenBoat School in Maine, and Arrowmont in Tennessee, and offers online classes through Craftsy and Off Center Harbor.

Metal Working for the Boatbuilder

WHEN: Friday, May 29 – Sunday, May 31

Fri 10-4, Sat 10-4, Sun 10-1

Member: $375 Nonmember: $410

($100 nonrefundable deposit when registering; balance and $30 materials fee due before first class)

A hands-on workshop reviewing basic metal working skills while each student makes their own brass pocket bevel, a handy tool to aid in building and restoring boats. The general goal is to teach skills for fabricating structurally strong, useful, and beautiful small metal objects, such as tools and hardware, without having full metal shop access. Techniques reviewed include:

  • Layouts/marking

  • cutting

  • drilling

  • filing

  • sanding

  • silver brazing

Students will also be instructed how to make and heat treat a steel-tipped marking tool, a step that may not be able to be completed within class time, but material will be provided.

Instructor: Erica Moody teaches metal working classes and workshops at Woodenboat School, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, The Apprenticeshop, & The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. She also has been an adjunct for various semesters at Wentworth Institute of Technology and Massachusetts College of Art & Design. She has been working professionally as a metal craftsman in and around Boston for 22 years with the last 15 years running her business Magma Metalworks, Inc., and the last year adding a line of personal work in small metal housewares and woodworking tools. She moved her business and home to Midcoast Maine a couple of years ago, and continues work there as well as in Boston/New England area.

Painting and Varnishing Workshop


Saturday, July 25 from 9-3

Sunday, July 26 from 10-2

Marine finishing requires a lot of careful preparation, good technique, and an understanding of marine coatings. Gary Lowell will present two information-packed days of painting and varnishing. He starts with surface preparation, including techniques for sanding, to help make the job less tedious. You will learn how to choose the right brush and several brushing techniques. You’ll also learn how to protect yourself so you can get a beautiful finish and stay healthy at the same time. Students are encouraged to bring small projects such as a hatch or seat to use as practice in class. Please check with the shop staff prior to bringing your project.

Member Fee: $195

Nonmember Fee: $215



Saftey Rules – dust control & chemical use

Surface Prep – paint and varnish removal, sanders and sanding techniques, & fairing putties and fillers

Brushes and Brushing Techniques – brushing & rolling and tipping

Applying Paint and Varnish

Specialty Products – masking, bleaching, staining, teak finishes, & wet sanding and buffing

INSTRUCTOR: Gary Lowell is a descendent of the Lowells who founded Lowell’s Boat Shop. He is the president of Lowell Boats Greensboro, NC, which is an award-winning boatshop specializing in classic runabout restoration. Gary teaches painting and varnishing at the WoodenBoat School and is a long time friend of the shop.

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