Welcome to The Folk School of Fairbanks

Boatwright Series


The Boatwright Series, led by boatwright Bruce Campbell, seeks to develop specific boat building skills and create interesting boats.

There are three huge steps in building a wooden boat. The hardest is to decide exactly what boat to build. The perfect boat. One you can invest a few hundred hours crafting, so as to enjoy perhaps thousands of hours in the water. Of course, the more you know about various techniques for building a boat, the greater the number of designs you must choose between. The more you know, the harder it gets. Every boat ever described in a book is available for you to consider!

The second difficulty is getting started. Committing time and space. Gathering the materials, the right materials, no compromising here. Attaining an understanding of the various tasks or technical skills and the critical order each must follow (the primary skill requiring fine fitting – between one’s ears!)

For some the most difficult: finishing the boat. When do you stop applying one more xxx, and get the darn thing into the water. The Folk School can help with all three major tasks and the small technical steps that may seem difficult just because you haven’t done it yet.

How do you plan to use your boat? Bruce is fascinated with rowing on rivers and lakes. He is in search of the ideal skiff for the ultimate small outboard for greater access upriver and down.

The Boatwright series has been holding classes and completing individual projects for the last couple of years. Before building three 10’ Chaisson glued lapstrake dories, we created glued lapstrake toolboxes. In the works is a class to create strip canoe toolboxes, or wanigans if desired, as a way of introducing strip canoe/kayak building.

Lap Clamp class because you can never have too many for boat building:

Class building lapstrake mahogany toolboxes:

Seth and Jason planking the second (or third) of three 10’ dories:

Seth Wilson and Bruce using epoxy to install the inwales and seat frames on the first of three dories. You can never have too many clamps!:

The finished dory on the Reindeer Hills section of the Nenana River, Fairbanks Paddlers River trip, summer 2016:

21’ Outboard skiff, planes with 15 hp Johnson and 4 people. Epoxy and Doug Fir plywood. (Seats not fully installed on the maiden voyage):

Thomas and his 16’ outboard skiff under construction:

Thomas’s new skiff, boat cost about $1000, ready for his tall 20” shaft outboard:

A test wanigan under construction. Built to fit a Grumman canoe, just behind the front thwart. This version does not have bead and cove strips. A fairly large project requiring a lot of assembly and completion at home:

Bruce’s next “boat project” an ultralight skin-on-frame rowboat. (Image from the internet: http://gentrycustomboats.com/Whitehallpage.html):

What is your interest? How can The Folk School help you develop the skills and confidence to build your own wooden boat?

The instructor is interested and willing to work with students on their own boat, in their own home. Details can be arranged to suit both instructor and student schedules.

As you think ahead to that scheduling, below are the instructor’s parameters of availability:

Length of classes/projects: This will vary based upon the complexity of the project chosen. 

Times of classes/projects:

Start time: No earlier than 9:00 AM

End Time: No later than 9:00 pm

Maximum length of class: 6 hrs (possible 1 hour more if completely necessary)

Minimum number of students: 1

Maximum number of students: 8 (depending on shop space)

Age range: 16 – Adult. Ages 12-16 with parent/adult teammate.

Prerequisites: If 16-18 yrs. old, will need prior Folk School woodworking skills and recommendation of John Manthei.

Location: A shop location TBD – could be your shop/garage or another location.


  • Fees will vary based upon selected project. Instruction rates for members are ~$11/class hour.
  • Cost of materials will vary by project.

To Register: Please fill out the Preliminary Inquiry Form below and click on the “Submit” button. The Folk School and the instructor will review the form and contact you to discuss your project.

Preliminary Inquiry Form - Boatwright Series – ByDemand!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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