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Books from W J Simmons


Information is every bit as critical to your boatbuilding success as your persistence. The author has been building  traditional small craft in his shop in Ducktrap, Maine since 1972. His job interview with master builder Merrill Young in '69 ended with "You'll pass it along won't you boy?" He has been doing just that in person, in magazine articles, and in books ever since. Have a look...

These books are designed to be used. To that end they are all in 8.5 x 11" format have ample margins for your notes, and are comb bound so that they will lay flat on your workbench for ready reference.

Note: All of our books are also available as digital downloads. Click here to access them.

The book that started it all was Lapstrake Boatbuilding, published by International Marine in 1978. That was followed by the second volume several years later. The current iteration includes both books and has been updated where necessary and greatly expanded. Now considered a classic, this 30th anniversary edition is found in personal and public libraries and boat schools here and abroad. Back the 70s there was next to nothing in print concerning the specifics of lapstrake boatbuilding. The purpose of this book was and still is to fill that void. Not just how to set up your boat, but how to lay out, measure and fit planking, it goes further into discussing tools, setting up a shop, and even provides advice for aspiring professionals.

400+ pages, 215 illustrations with three full color chapters, indexed US$65


Lines, Lofting & Half Models is our most requested book and for good reason. Boatbuilding plans can be intimidating until you learn the rational behind them. Builder's half models predated drawn plans by centuries and even once drawn plans became the norm, the half models remained the basis for the boats to be built. Lofting is the means by which the lines of the hull are rendered full size in order to prove the lines and furnish critical information such as the size and shape of moulds. Understand models and you'll understand lines, know lines and you'll have a handle on lofting. Know all three and you can build your boat with confidence.

158 pages with 91 illustrations, indexed, with a glossary US$29.95


Finishing was written to make your life in and around boats easier. It is comprehensive, based on years of first-hand experience with products that work and those that have failed to live up to the claims of their advertisers. It doesn't cover every product of every paint manufacturer. What it does do is discuss the products that work best in our shop, and in the process, takes you through preparatory steps, through application, and on to maintenance. In short, if someone was going to apply to our shop for a job as a finisher, this is the information we would expect them to know. Here is the information you need to get the job done right the first time so you can spend more time where you would rather be, out on the water. At less than the cost of a good varnish brush, it's money well spent.

97 pages, 27 illustrations, indexed  US$25

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Building  9'-7" Maine Skiff. Back before there was such a thing as the WoodenBoat School, we taught boatbuilding classes in our boatshop at Ducktrap. This book was written for the first year classes in 1980. This book was written to guide you through the layout and construction of this good little boat. In it you will find step-by-step coverage of skiff building from lofting and reading plans through completion. You will learn how to make the moulds and set them up, get out the bottom panel and chines, make the stem and transom, get out and install her planks, and install the frames and rails. Sound like a lot of work? It's not bad broken down into its individual components. There are no illustrations within the book, because the scale building plans for the Maine Skiff are included for ready reference.

Arranged in 40 individual lessons requiring about an hour apiece. US$40


Building Sunshine describes the layout, building, and finishing of Walter Simmons' popular 10'-6" yacht tender, one of the finest little lapstrake boats we've ever known. Since Sunshine is a traditionally constructed boat, this book can also lead you through the building of just about any round-bottomed lapstrake, the skills used being the same for one and all. Particular emphasis is placed on setting up the backbone and fitting the lapstrake planks, with drawings and thorough explanations. And for anyone the least bit hesitant about their planking abilities, there is even a detailed discussion of the methods used by professionals to match plank heights (something we've never read before, anywhere). Spiling, scarphing, and fastening are covered, of course, as is the inboard joinerwork.

85 information-packed pages with 42 drawings  US$29.95


Building Lapstrake Canoes Lapstrake canoes are lovely boats with the maneuverability of a kayak and the stability of a double ender. These are the easiest to build of all lapstrake boats.They are fast, dry, light, and able. Anyone contemplating building a first lapstrake boat is understandably a bit apprehensive. The advantage of building a canoe first is that despite their small scantlings, lapstrake canoes are built just like larger boats. That means that you can become familiar with layout and construction techniques without having to invest is specialized tools. (We could have said that building one is a good way to get your feet wet, but that's not a phrase you're apt to hear from a boatbuilder.Building Lapstrake Canoes is required reading for boatbuilding courses from Maine to California, and a considerable number of first-time builders have used this book to guide them through building their very first boat.

book 121 pages with 58 illustrations, indexed  US$29.95

(Not to be confused with Lapstrake Canoes from our Boatbuilding in Pictures series)


Pigeons and Gudgeons spans different styles of boatbuilding and related trades to provide you with explanations of the often mysterious terminology used in boatbuilding.</Boatbuilding, like this book, draws on the skills of machinists, patternmakers, sailmakers, sparmakers, caulkers, finishers, riggers, and others. It's dictionary and glossary because it contains elements of both. Actually, it's more of a modest boatbuilder's encyclopedia, with concise explanations and plenty of photos and drawings.Boatbuilding becomes instantly more understandable when you understand the language. Prior to the publication of this book, the chances of finding a concise answer to a marine or shop related question was largely a hit or miss proposition. Even for those of us with a rather respectable boatbuilding library and files of clippings, the trick is still to put your finger on the information when it is needed. Here is a resource that you can keep alongside your favorite chair or in your shop that you can access any time.

245 pages with135 photos and drawings. US$ 29.95


If there is any book in our library that can pay for itself in short order, this is definitely the one. You can't hire a competent boatbuilder or repairer for a single hour for the cover price of this book...and how many wooden boat repairs can be handled in an hour?At the very least, the information contained in Repairs will make you a better informed consumer. Nearly all readers have found, however, that once they understand how a repair is accomplished, actually doing it isn't all that difficult. Perhaps that's why we have received so many thank you emails.Just a glance at the cover hints at what's inside:t  a transom being replaced, a storm damaged boat with three new lapstrake planks&one of them the garboard, and spiling a new plank for a lapstrake canoe. These repairs and a good deal more are thoroughly covered.

292 pages with 104 photos and drawings. US$29.95


Why would you want to build a traditional design glued lapstrake? Contrary to popular opinion, the best reason is not so that you can build the boat much lighter than it would be otherwise. Except for a very few craft (notably very small canoes) it's disadvantageous to build them too light because they will not sit down on their design load waterline, and so have a tiddley motion as a result. That's hardly conducive to having a good time on the water. No, glued lap really shines when traditional planking materials are unavailable to you, or should you reside where your weather would wreak havoc on cedar planking. Of lesser importance, but worthy of note nonetheless, is that many boats can be built without ribs or frames, making them easier to maintain.

Glued Lap Construction started out as a supplement to our Duck Trap Wherry plans,but has much wider application. It's a short book with detailed explanations and large illustrations on every other page.  38 pages with 23 charts and illustrations US$19.95


Wherries Duck Trap was the center of the Atlantic Salmon fishery, and we've been gathering information on the salmon wherries and their builders for nearly four decades. In the process, we've also built more of them than any of the old wherry builders here at Ducktrap. Ranging from the Littlest Wherry baby's cradle all the way up to the ketch-rigged Newfoundland Trap Skiff these boats with their plank keels and champagne-glass shaped transoms are a joy to behold.The book is arranged chronologically, and their story begins in 16th century England. It continues on this side of the Atlantic with the local builders of the 19th and 20th centuries, and on to the latest designs to emerge from our shop, the Duck Trap Wherry and the Christmas Wherry.


256 pages with142 photos (nearly all in color) and illustrations, indexed US$35


Nope, not a book about building a boat, but it's related. Basic Decoy Carving. Most boatbuilders carve, either as part of their work or as a hobby. It's a great way to spend off hours. We carve decoys for seabird restoration projects as well as for collectors, and we offer the resourses others need to get started or to expand their carving. Not all of us live where we can be on the water year 'round. And then there's the matter of what to do with the high quality leftovers from your boatbuilding projects. Basic Decoy Carving addresses both issues. Put that lovely scrap to good use and carve a decoy or two. Who knows? You just might be good at it. You'll never know 'till you try, and this book spells out everything you'll need to know to get started.

Measuring 6.5 x 8.5" overall,  76 shop drawings and photos, indexed. US$29.95

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