TEMPERANCE — Bedford Senior High School student Aaron Zimmerman presented a novel idea to his cabinetry class teacher for a project: a boat.
Mr. Zimmerman was only kidding, but the teacher, Dennis Brighton, told him to look up the plans and start working. Mr. Zimmerman did just that, and after two trimesters of effort, the 13-foot mahogany vessel is almost complete. He said he wanted to install oarlocks and handrails along the gunwales before his June 2 graduation party, then he would give it a seaworthiness test by launching it in a school detention pond.
“If it floats, he passes,” joked Mr. Brighton. “I think he’s in good shape now, because the pond isn’t full of water.”
On a more serious note, the teacher said he was pretty confident the boat was watertight. He said Mr. Zimmerman’s project was a first. Senior projects tended to be more conventional, such as desks and cabinets.
Mr. Brighton said the project was a challenge because the gunwales were bent at 11 degrees to give the boat its sleek shape. The ship’s hull is made of mahogany plywood; the seats and keel are a solid piece of mahogany.
He said the written plans the senior started with were abandoned after the initial cuts because the results weren’t what he was looking for.
“They were tricky to cut,” he said.
He said he was introduced to woodworking at the school and now has it in his blood.
“I love it. It’s so relaxing to listen to music and work with wood,” he said, adding that he expects woodworking to be a lifelong pastime.
Mr. Brighton said Mr. Zimmerman was among his students who develop a passion for woodworking. “But the problem with cabinetry is that there are not a lot of career opportunities,” he said.
Mr. Zimmerman said he plans to study computer science at the University of Toledo in the fall. The boat will be kept at his family’s cottage near Cheboygan, Mich. “I’ve never worked on a marine project before,” he said. “This has been really worthwhile.”