The Sound Of Wood On Water

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2010

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

few tools, to build my first boat. It's not that hard to do. But you don't have to take my word for it: 9th grade students at Marshfield High School built johnboats, too.

Brent Replogle, then 14, and Zac Chisum, then 15, are polite, modest guys. They are also determined. With a bit of guidance from their Wood Technology 1 teacher, David Pantleo, Zac and Brent made a bit of history.

"We saw a Conservation Department video on forest management and wood products as part of our woodworking class," Chisum said. "One of the segments featured a man making a boat. Brent and I thought, We can do that."

"Normally, first year students start out making simple items," Pantleo said, "These are the biggest projects ever undertaken in this class."

Brent wound up with the first boat because he obtained the materials first, but the boys cooperated in all aspects of building their boats.

Each part of the project was a learning experience. The boys put on safety goggles and took turns shaping the bow and stern transoms with a jig saw. After Zac struggled to cut one side of the curve on the bow transom, the boys agreed it would be easier to cut the other if the boat was right side up. They then took turns using a belt sander, router and files to finish the rough cut and round the edges to the final shape.

In the early stages, the boats are built upside down. With the boat right side up, the boys removed the temporary forms. That was the first time Zac saw his boat as it would look on the water. It still lacked seats and paint, but the slender lines of the traditional johnboat were evident.

Since the seats have complex, compound angles, the boys got help from some of the older Wood II students. They got a bit of ribbing too. "There was some skepticism about the boats," Pantleo said, "Some students didn't think they'd float."

The boys struggled with various aspects of their new boatbuilding craft. Brent thought bending the sides uniformly was the toughest part. Zac thought shaping the runners was the most difficult.

The boys finished the first boat in three weeks, working two hours a day in class and some evenings after school. Both said a person should be able to build one start-to-finish in a long weekend with

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