I’se The B’y That Builds The Boat!

I’se the b’y that builds the boat! At last night’s meeting of the Atlantic Woodworkers Association we were brought back to our ‘Atlantic’ roots with a glimpse into the work of John Green, master model shipbuilder.

John Green - Model Shipbuilder

John started model shipbuilding at the age of 8 and has been actively building for the past 61 years. He enjoyed model shipbuilding so much that he retired at the age of 52 to do his passion full time. Although he says that he has retired it can be seen more as a positive career change since his ships sell for between $10,000 and $20,000 each with some commission pieces commanding even more! He also does repairs and restorations.

He is presently building several scale models of the Nova Scotia icon, The Bluenose which he plans on giving to his daughters.

John gave an overview of the intricate work required to create such a scale model, including the background research he does to ensure accuracy:


He personally mills each piece of wood using a variety of miniature woodworking tools. His tablesaw uses a 3″ blade that has several hundred teeth! He handcrafts every piece on his ships from scratch, down to the finest detail such as rope and cabling.

John brought in a couple of his models. These are referred to as ‘visual representations’, meaning that although they are made to a scaled size they are not made with exact details in the stock.

Here is a photo of the ‘Angie M.’ which is a Booth Bay Lobster Boat circa 1950 that would have operated in coastal waters from Bar Harbor to Booth Bay, up to the southern shore of Nova Scotia. It is built plank on frame entirely of basswood including all decking and a fully finished interior. It is 35” long, 15” wide and 15” high. This took approximately 300-400 hours to complete:

Angie M. - A Booth Bay Lobster Boat

The photo below is of the Noank fishing smack, the Emma C. Berry. This model shows what is termed as ‘navy board style’ where some planking has been removed to show the skeletal structure:

Emma C. Berry - A Noank fishing smack

Here is a photo of the Emma C. as it looks as a finished model:

Emma C. Berry - A Noank fishing smack

More of John’s work can be viewed here at the Marine Model Artists Co-operative website.

This was a great presentation that not only showed John’s hard work and dedication but also gave insight into his craft. It certainly was of interest to all members.

Other items on tonight’s meeting agenda included an auction where the members got into several bidding wars for a Makita hand-held planer, a Lamello biscuit jointer, a Makita hammer drill and a Makita thickness planer. Congrats to the winners! (I came close but no cigar).

There was also some discussion on a possible volunteer effort to build a storage shed for a local Heritage Farm. The shed will be constructed in a post and beam style. This should be an interesting project to undertake as it offers the benefit of learning this type of construction method, member camaraderie, club promotion and helping a local non-profit organization.

Next month we’re off on a ‘road trip’ to a Habitat For Humanity location as well a local tool supply store!

As always, it was another great meeting. It really is nice to see other facets of woodworking, to broaden the spectrum of wood knowledge, and to share this with others.

Back to the shop…

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