Howard I. Chapelle

Publishing Page

This is the most complete book available on what is now known as traditional boatbuilding. If you want to know it, it is pretty much in here. As far as actual construction techniques go, if you've got a good set of plans for a traditional wooden boat, this book, some hand and hand power tools, plus a band saw, table saw and small thickness planer you can pretty much build the boat.

Some people knowing Mr. Chapelle only in his last career as a curator at the Smithsonian who brought together much of the knowledge of maritime history and technology that we have available to us today, have suggested that Mr. Chapelle was an academic only. They have declined to believe that they had anything to learn from him. However Mr. Chapelle was, in fact, very well grounded in and familiar with yacht and commercial craft construction in a very hands on sense.

Of course it is possible to criticize the book. Chapelle shows a method for deducting planking thickness which is OK for long narrow hulls but rather inaccurate for beamier vessels whose planking may be making quite an angle to the sections by the time you get to the ends. You'd best also have a copy of "The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction" or Stewards "Boat Building Manual", which you are probably going to want anyway, for deducting planking thickness.

The only other criticism comes out of the different context of the times. There is very little scantlings information, or information on proper sizing of fastenings. This probably was acceptable when you could count on a local builder to help you out if your designer hadn't specified something. Also many more designers used to be familiar with these things. Today some of this information can be found in "Skene's Elements of Yacht Design, 8th edition", in our MacNaughton Scantling's Rules Book, which covers a wide variety of wood construction methods and in our Yacht Design School lessons 8 and 9.

If you have any interest in wooden boats, whether modern construction or traditional you should have this book. (tm)  $39.95