HOWB 048 – Interview: John Welsford, wooden boat designer, builder, enthusiast, all around good guy!

by admin on August 16, 2012



This episode is an interview I did with John Welsford while at the NW School of Wooden Boat Building’s 31st anniversary celebration.  I met John for the first time that day, and he was more than agreeable when I asked if I could interview him for HOWB.  So we sat down for almost an hour of recording, and I was having the time of my life!

John is a native of New Zealand and loves his country.  Boatbuilding is in John’s genes – as far back as his dad could research, there is a boatbuilder in each generation of the family.  And John is a descendant of the Denny’s of the William Denny and Brothers Ship Building Company of Scotland. Denny and brothers built the Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank in 1882 (which is part of a museum exhibit now).

At the young age of 7, John spent every holiday with his grand dad who worked for a one man boat builder – Philip Lange.  John learned to whittle, plank and take care of heavy equipment during those days at Lange’s shop.  John’s first boat build as a youth was made from corrugated roofing iron (hull), firewood (stems and thwarts) and tar scraped off the road for caulking.  As a young married man he built a 21′ light displacement sloop with a Flying Dutchman rig.

One day a friend came to John with plans for a boat he was going to build.  John looked at the plans and told his buddy it wasn’t suited to his needs.  His friend challenged John – modify the plans to get me a better boat, and if it works I will give you my Stanley 55 Molding plane.  John still has the Stanley plane to this day and he has been designing boats ever since!

Listen to the full interview with John including how the popular SCAMP design came about by clicking on the green button above.

Here’s some pics to enjoy (click to enlarge):


Wooden Boat Dan (left) and John Welsford next to SCAMP Prototype.  Note HOWB T-shirt!


SCAMP Prototype – 11′ 11″ of sheer pleasure!


Inaugural SCAMP CAMP Port Townsend. More on this in HOWB 049.


Thanks John for taking time for the interview.  Best to you with your designs and boats!

WOODEN BOAT TIP OF THE WEEK – #1. Patience Is A Virtue
When building or refurbishing a wooden boat, take the time and energy to do each part of the project correctly the first time.  If you become impatient and rush the job, it will take more time in the long run and the result will be a lower quality product.  Case in point – I rushed the tedious job of cutting out the decks of my canoe to match the lines of plywood sandwiched between the gunnels.  Result – it took me 2 or 3 times as long to trim the deck pieces to a tapered shape to cover the plywood!


UPCOMING FUN EVENTS (tell ’em Wooden Boat Dan sent you!)
August 25-26 – 2012 Toledo Antique and Classic Boat Show – Toledo, OH

August 25-26 – 20th Annual Tacoma Maritime Fest – Tacoma, WA

Aug 31 – Sept 2 – 39th Annual Harbor Days – Olympia, WA

September 1-4 – Small Craft Skills Academy – Port Townsend, WA (see website for other locations)

September 2-4 – 34th Annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival – Victoria, BC, Canada

September 3-5 – 11th Annual Wooden Boat Rendezvous – Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, WA

September 7-9  – 36th Annual Wooden Boat Festival – Port Townsend, WA

Note:  If you have events you would like added to the calendar, please email me at



I want to build a community of people from all over the world who want to connect, learn, share stories and photos, and have fun with wooden boats.  I would REALLY appreciate you sending me wooden boats pics, stories, or projects you are working on.  You can also write comments on this blog, email me at, or call my feedback hotline at 424 261-2360.

Click HERE to subscribe to my email news list for the latest and greatest fun stuff and click on one of the buttons below to subscribe to my show. Keep the bright side up and the barnacled side down –  Wooden Boat Dan “over and out”! Subscribe to the Hooked On Wooden Boats Podcast here: Zune iTunes RSS Feed

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

January 18, 2017


Thanks so much for sharing this fantastic interview with a fascinating gentleman! Although I have listened to many of your podcasts, I am fairly new to boat design and building. I’ve gained a lot of insight into the craft by listening to John’s interview. Please keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing and hearing more of your posts and podcasts.

St. Paul, MN


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