How to Build a Caledonia Yawl, Part 2 – Setting Up Shop

June 13, 2013

Geoff Kerr sets up our new shop the way he wants it for the new series about building a Caledonia Yawl.  “Manning” benches, folding church supper tables, and nothing screwed down sets the tone.

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How to Build a Caledonia Yawl, Part 3 – Essential Boat Building Tools


See the entire Caledonia Yawl How-To-Build Series Here

• Basic Boathandling for Beach Cruising

• Outfitting a Small Boat

And of course you can see what else Geoff is up to by visiting him online at


For more information and to order WEST SYSTEM epoxy visit them online.


A kit of pre-cut planks and molds can be purchased from Hewes & Co.  See a Complete listing of all of their plywood lapstrake hull kits here.


You can also order plans for building the Caledonia Yawl from scratch from the designer himself Iain Oughtred by contacting him at Iain.Oughtred (at) gmail (dot) com.


Geoff Kerr has more experience building these than anyone we know. Check out Geoff’s guide page and what he’s been up to at Two Daughters Boat Works


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16 Responses So Far to “How to Build a Caledonia Yawl, Part 2 – Setting Up Shop”:

  1. Avatar Charles Neuman says:

    Anyone have experience building outdoors? It would be a drag, because I could only work when the weather is good, and I’d have to be careful to cover the boat well when not working on it. But that could motivate me to get work done when I have the chance.
    I have an awning covering a patio, and I enclosed it to make a shop space. It works well, but I don’t think it’s long enough for the CY, and even if it were, it would be cramped in there.
    Another option is to put one of those temporary fabric structures in the back yard, but that’s just asking for a complaint by a neighbor!

    • Avatar Geoff Kerr says:

      I built Ned Ludd outdoors in the DC suburbs, I set up and planked the hull under an open sided carport,, Then when I turned it over I moved to the backyard under a massive oak tree. I stretched a ridgeline between two trees and draped a large blue tarp over it and just pulled it like a shower curtain to cover the boat as needed. I didn’t know any better, had no shop space available, and it worked just fine. The biggest issue will be managing epoxy cure times as you will be much more subject to ambient temperature variations, but that really shouldn’t be a great obstacle. Let me also warn against painting outdoors at night…every flying beast will divebomb your glistening boat…

      • Avatar Charles Neuman says:

        Good to know. As long as the molds don’t warp, then it seems it could work.
        My enclosed awning shop space is protected from rain/snow but not from temperature and humidity, so I’ve dealt with the craziness of using epoxy, paint, and especially varnish. (One time I really wanted something epoxied and it was 20 degrees outside. I build a tent over the part to be epoxied with plastic sheeting and put a space heater underneath and brought the temperature up to 60, which allowed for overnight curing.) I paint my current boat outside, and yeah, I get bugs. And I recall that using varnish close to sunset is a bad idea because of condensation. So I guess I’m more prepared to work outdoors than I thought.
        In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the videos of your roomy indoor shop!

  2. Avatar Stephen Wood says:

    I haven’t pushed the button on a Caledonia Yawl, yet. I did however build a pair of the Manning Benches and I don’t know how I lived without them! Thanks for that tip, Geoff.

    Also, I put a slew fo LED shop lites up; they are great.

    • Avatar Weaver Lilley says:

      When I was getting up enough nerve to build a Caledonia, I followed Geoff’s videos, made the patterns and the manning benches. Finally, with enough steam built up I began what was an 8 month project and I have to tell you what an immense pleasure it was. I was actually a little downcast when it was over as it had been so much fun. Geoff’s guidance took the anxiety out of the project and what a wicked sailor this boat is. Many thanks, Geoff!

  3. Avatar David Slater says:

    I want to build a workshop, one that would be used primarily to accommodate working on my small boats (H12, a runabout, kayaks, etc). When I watch your videos I always try to glean how the shop you are in is laid out. This video was an enormous help. Do you have any other resources at OCH that would help me think through designing such a shop? Thanks.

    • Avatar Maynard Bray says:

      Hi David,
      We at OCH haven’t covered the layout and building of a complete permanent workshop yet, but will, I’m sure, as time goes on. Meanwhile, this Geoff makes some very valuable recommendations in this video above, plus you might try back issues of WoodenBoat (use the online index) where there are articles about Pete Culler’s, Dynamite Payson’s and Harry Bryan’s shops. In L. Francis Herreshoff’s book The Compleat Cruiser, there’s also a chapter on workshops that’s pretty good.
      Hope this helps.

    • Avatar Geoff Kerr says:

      I’d like to emphasize that the most important feature of any shop space is flexibility. Minimize permanent fixtures, limit them to the walls, and keep everything else movable. You will want/need to reconfigure your shop multiple times during a project.

      As a further thought, I’ve seen a lot of boat projects languish as the wannabe builder fussed and obsessed over shop furniture and fixtures. Focus on the boat and make it happen.

      • Avatar Peter Collins says:

        Geoff…Thanks again for showing us what an almost “ideal” boat shop should look like. Following your advice I put together a variation of the Manning Benches which I think will serve me quite well in my new adventure of learning to build a boat. I made them 4 feet long and a little shorter (top section is 8 1/2 ” high rather than a foot; which works well with my height and limited shop space. I also added a tool/junk tray in the lower section… remains to be seen how much sawdust and epoxy they collect. Cheers…..Peter

  4. Avatar Gerry Kelly says:

    All your videos appear to be very high quality definition. Is there any way of getting video files of slightly less quality so that those of us with access to less bandwidth / download speeds can get to view then in a reasonable time. I can’t get past the first few seconds! Help please.
    Regards Gerry

  5. Avatar Victor Paz says:

    Very nice.

  6. Avatar Peter MacLearn says:

    Thanks for tour and the advice. Very helpful and useful. Nice job.

  7. Avatar J.D. Bondy says:

    Geoff, do you use any kind of tackle setup from the ceiling for lifting the hull? Maybe that’s what you’ve got those youngsters there for…

  8. lunette ray ban…

    Really nice submit, impressive. its quite diverse from other posts. Thanks for sharing…

  9. Avatar Hugh Bamford says:

    This is brilliant, I’m currently reconfiguring my workshop and some of these ideas are definitely going to be implemented. Thanks again.

  10. Avatar William Lavender says:

    Awesome! I especially appreciate getting some perspective on shop size and arrangement. Boatbuilding books all talk about how big a shop needs to be, but it’s nice to be able to look and think, “Okay, so this is what a 24 x 36 looks like.” Great ideas on using portable tables instead of permanent benches also! Time to move up from my 18 x 8 foot basement and build a real shop! Looking forward to the coming build videos.

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