Interview Request - PhD Research


My name is Steve Sacco and I am working on a dissertation involving wooden boat kits. Specifically I am examining how the kit bridges the high tech world of CAD/CAM and computer numeric controlled cutting machines with the home workshop. I am interested in understanding how people, skills, knowledge, materials, tools, logistics, and other factors come together with the contemporary boat kit. 

I am interested in interviewing people on both the production side as well as amateur builders. I am posting here in order to recruit anyone reading this who has built a wooden boat kit of any type and who would be willing to discuss their experiences. 

Also, I will be in Port Townsend WA from September 7 to the morning of September 11 at the Wooden Boat Festival there. If any of you who are reading are also attending and would like to be interviewed, we could do so there. 

If you are interested, please either respond to this thread or even better contact me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.


Steve Sacco

Ph.D Candidate

Department of Sociology

Loyola University, Chicago

10 replies:

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RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

Boy, have you come to the right spot!

First, on the left is John C. Harris's blog about his experiences with boats, running Chesapeake Light Craft, etc. I'd recommend the whole blog as an easy introduction into exactly what you're looking for, but especially the following entries:

17 Years of CNC Machines: An (Unsentimental) Look Back

Two Faerings for Sail and Oar

A Short History of Boatbuilding Kits

For the kitbuilder's experience, many of us have webpages and blogs. One of mine is Building a Wood Duck 12. It describes my experiences from start to launch, of building one of the early WD12 kayak kits, including deviations from the manual with the rationale behind them.

I'm sure others will hop in with theirs.

Get your department to buy you a kit to build. It'll be the cheapest and most appplicable research you can do.

Good luck,




RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

   Laszlo, thanks for the link to your Wood Duck pages. I'm just starting to build my Shearwater Sport Sectional and I can see that I will pick up some useful tips from you.

Steve, I agree that John Harris is the person from whom you can learn the most, starting with the web pages Laszlo mentions. If you want one more blog about a personal experience building a kit boat here is a link to the first page of my blog about building a Northeaster Dory.

RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

Hello Steve,

I'm a plans builder that will be at Port Townsend on Saturday.  If you're interested, I'd be happy to meet with you and extoll the virtues of building wooden boats from kits (even if you cut them out yourself).  At the risk of sounding like a CLC sycophant, I'd be happy to discuss how John has almost singlehandedly cornered the market and helped advance the technology.  I happen to be a Mechanical Engineer and CNC/CAD/CAM literate as well as a professional sailor (I own a charter biz in the USVI).  I will also be sending you an email.  Regardless, best of luck on your thesis.

RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

I wish I could get kits here to build . . . 

I wish I had access to a CNC machine . . .

I wish . . . 

RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

Thanks everyone for your replies!

Laszlo, thanks for those links. I had discovered them on the blog some time ago and agree that they are excellent. For someone like me who researches technology, John Harris' frank comments on CNC in the "Unsentimental Look Back" are refreshingly honest and valuable. 

I am very grateful for all of the positive responses that I have been getting in this project. 


RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

Hi Steve,

I'm definitely an amateur builder.  I've tinkered with wood for years, but claim no great expertise or skill.  I finished a Northeaster Dory (17') in June and am a few weeks away from putting a Chesapeake 17 kayak in the water.  Although I'd been around boats all of my life and at one time had been a fairly serious (amateur) student of sailboat hull designs, my first foray into building a boat was with CLC.  Provide contact information if you would like to chat.  

RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

   To MountainSailor,

Yes, I would love to talk! Please write to me at [email protected] to get the ball rolling.


RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

   Followup to all that responded:

Thank you very much for responding, I have been quite successful in contacting both amateur builders and professionals and have a dozen or so amateurs lined up already - plus I met some at the Port Townsend Festival - which was a great show to attend! I already have enough responders to make my committee happy, more is of course great, within reason. I do want to finish the dissertation soon. For the eventual book I may do follow-on research.


[email protected]

RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

I had a great time chatting with Steve in Port Townsend!

RE: Interview Request - PhD Research

   I'm in! It  sounds like he's trying to identify compusive boat building as an official mental disease .maybe I can get my insurance to pay for my next kit

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