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Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory

A few weeks ago, Jim noted that Google is now showing businesses on Google maps.  One of businesses that turned up in frankford was the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory.  That sounded interesting and I looked up their web site to see what I could find out about them.  They have recently moved into the Globe from their original location in South Philly.  It became obvious that there would be no ship construction going on in Frankford.  This turns out to be an educational/youth development program.  I emailed to find out if anybody would like to talk about it.

A couple of days later got a call from a guy named Brett who said he would be happy to give me the story and we could meet at the Globe over on Worth Street.  I met with him last Wednesday and got a better story than I had bargained for.

Brett Hart is thirty something and lived on Hawthorne Street and attended Frankford Friends.  He is the Executive director of the Philadelphia Wooden boat Factory.

They have a canoe building program that is up and running now.

PWBF Canoe Program is a long-term boat building program that is available free to eligible Philadelphia area schools.  Taking place typically over a 12-week period during either the fall or spring academic semester, Philadelphia area students (14-18 years old) work three hours a week to complete a 15-foot canoe.  Participating students become proficient with academic fundamentals and practical application of skills such as reading blueprints, understanding and using scale, linear measurement, applying material properties, applying trigonometric/geometric principle, safe tool use/care, and fine woodworking.  Additionally, in a group setting, students further develop critical/analytical thinking, problem solving, conflict resolution, responsibility, and self-reliance skills.  PWBF’s unique educational philosophy, in conjunction with the canoe project, enables students to creatively develop and apply academic, personal, and interpersonal skills in a practical hands-on environment.

In addition they are looking to start a new after school boat building program.  This pilot program is slated to begin for a group of twelve 8th grade students on January 25th with a five-month restoration project that will lead into a competitive sailing program by June.  The restoration will entail rebuilding a boat called a Lightning.  One was in the shop the day I visited and Brett was going to pick up the second this past weekend.

I had fairly simple questions.  Safety with kids around wood working equipment is important.  The shop is equipped with a table saw that will stop if it is touched by any part of the body.  I had heard of them but never saw one in person.  The dust collection system looks up to the job.  They are partnering with the Broad Street Y for swimming lessons to make sure all the kids who go out on the water can swim. 

Anyone having an interest in this program can contact Brett Hart via email at  Visit their web site for a good look at the philosophy and more pictures.

This is another of the interesting things going on over at the Globe in historic East Frankford.

1 thought on “Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory

  1. Interesting, a few days ago I looked at how they make firberglass boat at yourtube. Now we get a boat building factory right here in Frankford…cool.

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