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If It's Worth Building, It's Worth Lofting

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Pete Culler once wrote:  However you built it, a proper lofting job is essential.  I know of nothing better to get a craft off to a good start, be she a skiff or a sawn-frame vessel.   Pete is not alone in his appreciation of the lofting process.  In fact, the popular boatwright Greg Rossel agrees with him.

Last week, Vernon Lauridsen did an excellent job in making sense of this now ancient  science.  The class was full...twenty students.  Most of the people who attended his two-day session were experienced.   For some old timers, Vernon confirmed the basic principle underlying the lofting process; for the new people,  he carefully explained why lofting & the taking of lines is essential to boat building.  He walked them through the process, taking the time to demonstrate each step, beginning with the table of offsets and how the offset points come together in the profile, half breath, and body boat plans.

This is not an easy task.  Lofting is a boat building skill that allows the builder to take a three dimensional object and place it on a two dimensional surface...like paper.  It's especially important to building a round bottom boat.  From the lofting table comes not only the station molds but also the shape of the transom,  the layout of the rabbit line, and the pattern of the stems.  This is only the beginning.   I think the real treat in the class came when Vernon used a knife to slice a simple household potato to demonstrate how the profile & buttock lines and the half breath & water lines are illustrated in the boat plans.

Finally, Vernon teamed with Jerry Schutzler on the last night to tie together the lofting process and how it is essential to building a half model or full model.  Jerry has built several models including the 7 ft., Bluenose a Nova Scotia cod schooner.   He also built the Wawona half model which is on display at the Maritime Hertiage Museum in Anacortes.  For those students who would like to learn how to build a boat model, this part of the class was a real learning experience.  Perhaps, our next lofting class can explore the whole subject of making models to scale!

To  quote Greg Rossel:  Give lofting a try.  It won't change the world as we know it, but you might just end up looking at boat building in a whole new light.

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