Wooden Boatbuilding: Craft Career Course

 The emphasis of this two-year course is to give students the opportunity to gain expert instruction to learn and practice the craft of wooden boatbuilding.

The course duration exposes the student to most aspects of wooden boatbuilding techniques and gives adequate time to practice and hone those skills. Students will compile a portfolio and/or digital diary of their work and the vessels they construct/restore whilst in the boat shed. Written and/or verbal references of each student’s experience, ability and work skills will be available to assist future job seeking activities. Assistance will be given to compile evidence for individual Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) processes with external Registered Training Organizations (RTO’s), as required.

The course will be offered to 6 students only, with two occasional additional places available on request. This will ensure good student/teacher instruction ratios and ensure quality craftsmanship. A waiting list will be created if student places become available. The group will be supported by teacher assistants at times, as course/vessel builds require.

The school welcomes students who seek education and training, for vocational and recreational interest. It focuses on the practical experience of boatbuilding, learning whilst creating, with theory delivered as and when required. The course delivery will occur in a working boat shed alongside experienced boatbuilder’s currently working in industry. It is assumed that skills, knowledge and a substantial portfolio/digital diary will assist employment in the boatbuilding and/or fine wood working crafts. It will also contribute significantly to Recognition of Prior Learning for accredited training and/or apprentiships.

The Wooden Boat Centre prioritizes solid timber construction and traditional boatbuilding techniques using Tasmania's unique boatbuilding timbers such as Huon Pine, Celery Top Pine, King Billy Pine, and Blue Gum. Some projects may make use of sustainably sourced Hoop Pine from sustainable plantations in North Queensland. Modern boatbuilding techniques will be incorporated into this course with use of marine ply; fiberglass and epoxy to give students a more rounded industry experience.

 The Wooden Boat Centre’s ‘Craft Career Course’ program is a full-time, 2 year course (42 weeks per year), which aims to provide detailed vocational training in a craft context.

The course will run from mid February 2019 to December 2020. It is divided into four semesters of varying length. During the semesters the Wooden Boat Centre operates on the basis of five, seven and a half hour days per week, 8am – 4.30pm with morning and afternoon tea breaks and half hour for lunch. Where gazetted public holidays occur they are observed. There will be an eight week holiday break in the summer (December to mid February) to allow students to travel home; work or enjoy the sailing season. An additional two weeks holiday in July will form the mid year break.


2019 18th February – 5th July and 22nd July – 20th December

2020 17th February – 3rd July and 20th July – 18th December

The course is made up of component builds/tasks, which address a particular aspect of wooden boatbuilding. The course proceeds from basic and introductory skills and modest projects, to more detailed builds and more ambitious projects. Substantial knowledge and extensive practical skills will be principally undertaken through practical application and “learning by doing”, rather than by lecture and formal instruction. The practical work includes individual projects, small team projects and practical experience working alongside the WBC boatbuilders. Some of these projects will be sponsored builds with others built and sold by the school to fund future activities.

Most of the activity is within timetabled contact time, however students are encouraged to maximize their learning experience through additional reading, research and practical participation during the course. They may make use of the library on site or may like to participate in sailing, rowing and associated activities as a member of the Living Boat Trust (LBT), Franklin. The LBT shed is next door and is a separate ‘not for profit’ community organization.

The Wooden Boatbuilding: Craft Career Course is not a nationally accredited course: that is, the qualification is not recognised under the Australian Qualifications Framework. Instead, it relies on the creation of portfolios, digital diaries of evidence and individual testamur as well as the school’s reputation nationally and internationally. It is believed that skills and experience gained whilst working on various vessel builds and restorations still forms the main basis of employment in the wooden boatbuilding industry.




This first activity will see students inducted to the workshop to gain familiarity with initial hand tools; hand operated power tools and static machines to build their own toolbox for continued personal use, which will remain their property.

Students will be introduced to measuring and marking tools, hammers and mallets, saws, boring tools, chisels, planes, axes and adzes, scrapers, spokeshaves and drawknives during this activity. Students will be taught how to make and fit the joints most commonly used in the building and fit-out of wooden boats. Students will also be instructed in the adjustment, sharpening, maintenance and safe use of static and hand-held power tools.

The aim of the subject is to assist students in choosing and maintaining their own set of hand tools and providing practice in their use towards the achievement of the standards needed for boatbuilding.


 This activity will see students build a simple plywood tender, whilst using the stitch and glue modern method. It will introduce the student to reading simple plans and making design templates for specific components. An important learning outcome of the exercise is to understand the entire process of converting plans to a three dimensional shape.  The tenders will be built in small groups, with the vessels either sponsored or for sale on completion.

This build will introduce students to the correct use of boat finishing products including fiberglass, epoxy and/or paint.


 Students will build a classic Tasmanian clinker dinghy from rare Tasmanian boatbuilding timbers. This will be to Adrian Dean’s design of an 11’5” ‘Percy’ dinghy or a Bill Foster designed ‘Foster 10’, or another popular proven design.

This build will introduce the student to lofting. It will begin the learning process of understanding how to read, and interpret boat designs from lines plans and other drawings, in order to translate those plans into full-sized lines and construct a vessel from them.  

The build will be undertaken in small groups of two or three. This build requires precision work and will test the developing skill level of students. The strong back (building frame) will be constructed, keel laid, stem and transoms fabricated before planking begins. Planks will be shaped and steam bent into position to be fastened with copper rivets and roves. Ribs are added once planks are in place as are structural knees, thwarts and the gunwale’s.

The vessel may be a rowing only or a sailing/rowing design.


 Students will learn carvel construction techniques either through restoration work or through the build of a small carvel craft.

A new build will see students work in small groups to reproduce designs to full size on the loft floor, further honing lofting skills. Then the keel and stem, fore-gripe, stern post and transom, all scarphed together in a watertight fashion and tapered to the requirements of the design. It includes cutting rebates for the planks, setting up the moulds, shaping and fastening the floors in place, fastening the ribbands to the moulds and steaming and fitting the ribs so that the structure is ready to receive the planking.

The individual planks are spiled and shaped. The planks are fastened to the ribs with copper fastenings; the planking is then stopped and cleaned off with smoothing planes. The seams will be caulked and payed or splined above the water line.

Carvel restoration work will include removal of damaged sections and repair as required.


Mast constructed as part of this activity may be solid or hollow, with a solid boom and spars appropriate to the design of the sail plan for which construction is required.


 Students will make either a strip planked kayak or canoe using this modern construction method. Plans will be scaled onto templates to construct the building frame. Planks will be cut and shaped before being side glued and tacked to the frame. Once planked the hull (and deck) will be glassed with epoxy resin inside and out. The canoes or kayaks will be fitted with gunwales or cockpit combing and finished.


Heritage restoration will include any repair work done to vessels of at least 50 years old. This activity will be a component feature of the course. However it is not yet known what type of vessel/s the students may work on.

The activity will include conducting assessment of vessels for repair. Creating works lists, approximate costings and budgets for works required will be included for learning purposes.


Students will learn to finish vessels with varnish, paint and possibly oil finishes. This will include correct preparation technique, the properties and safe use of various finishing products as well as achieving professional results.


Students will be required to work in teams made up of people from varied background and life interests. They will also work alongside clients, volunteers, boatbuilders working in industry, administration and tourism staff and tourist/visitors to site. Whilst completing boatbuilding projects students will work within a busy multi-disciplinary work environment. Students will learn the skills and characteristics of working in productive teams. How to communicate effectively, negotiate identified outcomes and manage conflict.

The WBC is a varied workplace like many other work environments where students can learn and practice essential work skills.


Students will be required to create and maintain appropriate record keeping associated with working in a workshop environments for clients. This work will be supported by your instructor and will at times be real life simulation or work based scenarios. Students will be required to research additional information; call suppliers; order materials; create budgets; create and work to timelines and project plans; report progress and issues and negotiate plans, designs and alternatives.

Students will be instructed and encouraged to make use of the real industry setting to develop skills in this area during the course.


  • A visit to the forest to gain understanding of species identification and selection of suitable boatbuilding
  • At least one visit to a local sawmill to gain understanding of the process of conversion from raw logs to boatbuilding material.
  • A visit to a sail loft to gain understanding of the trade of sail making.
  • ‘Taking the lines’ from existing vessels (usually heritage) and recreating plans for replication purposes.
  • Vessel launching and conducting boatbuilders trials to test design.


  • Vessel fitout which may include: cabinetry; installing/replacement of water/fuel tanks; preparing plumbing and electrical components for connection by associated trades.
  • Deck construction or replacement, which may be laid on marine plywood or may be canvassed, or sheathed with Dynel or fiberglass.
  • Boatbuilding metallurgy basics
  • Guest instructor overview of traditional rigging techniques.
  • On-deck hardware such as stanchions, pushpit and pulpit (where required), winches, vents, rollers and fairleads etc.
  • Half model construction
  • Pattern making


All listed content will be covered within the 2-year period, but the exact timetabling of that content may vary.  The possible course inclusions listed are a sample only and will be included as opportunity arises. It is difficult to predict exactly what restoration work or build requests will come into the shed during the course. Work will be completed by the local boatbuilders if students have already had experience adequate to the acquisition of a particular skill.

The acquisition of a varied skills base will be prioritized over excessively repetitive work tasks.


This course is designed for adults – over 16 years of age. Entry is competitive, and no more than six students will be selected to undertake the course. There are no deferrals; that is, once an offer of a place is made, the applicant cannot defer it to another year or intake. An applicant who is unable to take up an offer for the intake for which it was made may apply again in subsequent competitive intakes.

The normal requirements for admission are a combination of some woodworking skill, an adequate level of English language literacy, a well-developed critical faculty, numeracy sufficient for workshop calculations, an ability to manipulate simple formulae and understand the properties of triangles and circles, a reasonable level of physical fitness and, most importantly, commitment and a serious determination to complete the course.

Application for admission is by means of a written application, a Resume  and confidential references, together with a completed application form. The form can be printed from our web site: www.woodenboatcentre.com or obtained from us on request. A short list of applicants will then be interviewed: face to face; by telephone; or web based.

The Wooden Boat Centre, Tasmania has an equal opportunity admission policy based on the present and potential merit of all applicants. Any special needs or assistance requirements should be discussed with the Manager on application.


AUD $30,000 tuition fees and materials levy (this includes materials for tool box construction). Fees are payable in advance yearly with a deposit fee of AUD $3,000 payable when a student formally agrees to accept an offer of a place. The remainder of the fee is payable on the first day of the course.

The WBC allows students to withdraw without financial penalty prior to a census date: 12th  April 2019 or 10th  April 2020. Students taking this option will be required to pay $400/week or $3,200 (total) for the first 8 weeks of course delivery, which is non refundable.


 Application for admission to the Wooden Boatbuilding Craft Career Course is by means of:

  1. A written application detailing your personal background, interests and aspirations, and your reasons for wishing to undertake this course.
  2. A Resume including details of formal educational qualifications, work experience, boatbuilding experience if any (this is not a requirement), and personal achievements. Photographs of any woodworking projects you have completed may be included.
  3. The names, current addresses and phone numbers of two people who are prepared to act as confidential referees.

All of the above should be attached to the completed Application Form, and sent to:

The Manager,

Wooden Boat Centre

3333 Huon Highway

Franklin Tasmania 7113




All applications received by the due date will be considered. If demand is greater than the available places, we will compile a ‘short list’ of applicants to be interviewed. Interviews will be informal and will be conducted at a time and in a format suitable to both parties. First and second round offers will be made. Applicants should be aware that first round offers are not infrequently refused so that some second round offers are likely.

Applicants will be advised of first round offers no later than 28th December 2018.




Successful applicants who accept an offer of a place in the course will be sent an Enrolment Agreement to sign.

This Agreement confirms the applicant’s intention to undertake the course and complete the qualification. The signed Agreement, with a deposit of AUD $3,000 (i.e. 10% of fees) should be returned to the school. The school will confirm receipt of the deposit and the Agreement in writing, and will provide a confirmation of enrolment, any additional course information and details.


The majority of course delivery will occur in the Franklin workshop. Occasional course work will be carried out on the water, on the boat school wharves. Similarly occasional off site work may be included to enrich the course content and variety of vessels the students have access to. The Centre has 3 workshops that will be used interchangeably with the commercial boatbuilders, depending on course/vessel build focus.

The WBC has a well-equipped kitchen/tearoom that is shared by all staff, students, volunteers and supporters. There is adequate parking, toilets, a shower and Wi-Fi in the building.  There is also a small library, with a good selection of books and periodicals dealing with timber, design, boatbuilding, maritime history and boating news.

The school provides static woodworking tools, hand held tools and hand held power tools. Students will be supported and advised in the acquisition of their own tools as is desirable and practicable.

Since January 2003 the Wooden Boat Centre Tasmania has also incorporated an adjoining visitor and interpretation centre, which provides a range of exhibits to introduce visitors to the tools, materials, local history and craft of wooden boatbuilding. Our volunteer guides take approximately 8000 visitors through the center each year, whilst telling stories and explaining boatbuilding practice. There is some interface between students/instructors and visiting tourists, which requires management at times to minimize interruption.


Regular gazetted public holidays will be observed. In addition, there is a two-week vacation break between Semesters 1 and 2, and again between Semesters 2 and 3. See timetable above.


Educational Standards

Practical work will be scrutinized on completion by the WBC boatbuilding team. Feedback and advise on technical improvements will be regularly available. The WBC has a reputation nationally and internationally for quality craftsmanship. All assistance will be given to assist students to be working to a high standard as quickly as possible.

Materials Levy:

A Materials Levy will only be requested if individual students wish to use alternative materials to that normally specified or for extra work conducted in exceptional circumstance.


The school reserves the right to cancel the course in the event of insufficient enrolments, or emergency. Deposits and/or fees paid in advance will be refunded in respect of the whole or any part of the course that is cancelled.

Student Accommodation

The school accepts no responsibility for finding student accommodation, but will advise known available accommodation locally and assist students where possible.


The school has public liability cover, and insures students against injury and accident. Students should consider insuring their own tools and/or personal possessions left on the school’s property during the course.

Recognition of prior learning

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) refers to “the acknowledgement of skills and knowledge, expressed as competencies, held as a result of formal and informal training”). It is a process of formally assessing and recognising skills and knowledge a candidate already holds.

It is assumed that this course material and vessel build experience will contribute significantly toward individual RPL through external RTO’s. Instructors and boat builders practicing in industry may verify RPL based evidence for students on request. Assistance will be given to compile evidence of competence of stated units as requested by individual students.

Work Health & Safety

The school’s WH&S policy is available on request. The course will cover all aspects of WH&S applicable to the boat building industry and woodworking workshop facility. We take safety seriously and expect students to quickly become part of a safety conscious work culture.