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Published: Monday, 5/21/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

TEMPERANCE

Senior’s boat project floating to fruition

Idea, offered as lark, a cabinetry-class 1st

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Aaron Zimmerman shows off the 13-foot mahogany boat that he built as the final project for his cabinetry class at Bedford Senior High School. Aaron Zimmerman shows off the 13-foot mahogany boat that he built as the final project for his cabinetry class at Bedford Senior High School.
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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.

Aaron Zimmerman, left, and his classmates inspect the boat he made for his cabinetry class. He worked on the project for two trimesters and hopes to have it completed with oarlocks and handrails before his June 2 graduation. Aaron Zimmerman, left, and his classmates inspect the boat he made for his cabinetry class. He worked on the project for two trimesters and hopes to have it completed with oarlocks and handrails before his June 2 graduation.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Mr. Zimmerman, 18, lives in Lambertville and has been woodworking for four years. He said he learned a lot from the boat project, and when talking about it, he peppers his conversation with terms such as “lap joints,” which he cut to fit together the pieces of the gunwale and bottom, and “the dado on the skeg,” the slot cut for the sternward extension of the keel that resembles a small fin.

“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.”



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