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Student Review: Lofting

May 20, 2010

BJK lines courtesy of Historic American Engineering Record.

This letter was sent to our Workshop Coordinator following a CWB Lofting workshop. If you have taken a workshop at CWB and enjoyed your experience, please let us know! We still have openings in many of our popular upcoming workshops, from sailing to boatbuilding . Learn more and register.


I just want to say how much I enjoyed the Lofting class this weekend. There’s just a ton of 3D geometry in the lofting step of the design/build process, and I would have never figured it out on my own. I had already looked at plans and read books and struggled with it alone without success. This weekend Eric [Hvalsoe] made it all make sense.

There are a couple things in particular that I really liked about the way Eric taught the class. First, he understands that you can only learn by doing, and he structured the class to be all about hands-on. We spent the majority of both days on the floor on our hands and knees, marking points with offset sticks, drawing curved lines with battens, and battling through the mental geometry necessary to tie the three views together. Also, Eric was patient enough to let us do the work ourselves, stepping in to help when we were stuck but allowing us to wrestle with the problems first. I think that’s critical because lofting is one of those “No pain, no gain” exercises. You gotta do your own push-ups if you want to figure it out.

I see that it’s hard for you to find enough students to fill technical classes like Lofting right now, but I hope that CWB will continue to offer them. Lofting is a key but difficult step in the design/build process for wooden boats, and if boat building is going to remain alive on a human scale (one person with a dream and a garage, as opposed to the big shops where they now do this stuff with computers and plotters), then classes like this must continue to be available. Like your woodworking skills classes and boat building classes, Lofting also offers great connections to the boat building legacy of the past, including terminology (half-breadth, buttock line) and techniques (who would have thought that 1.9.6 means 21 3/4 inches?!) that have been handed down from previous centuries.

Thanks for a great class!

Mike Thompson

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