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Photograph by Roger McKee

Boats, Courses, Finances

Our canoes weigh between 17 lbs for our new 10½’ solo light model up to 40 pounds for the new 15½’ version. The smaller boats are perfect for ponds, flat water rivers, estuaries and all but the largest lakes, while the new 15½’ canoe can be used for tripping across larger waters. Our 13½’ Kayak weighs about 35 pounds - much lighter than wooden or fiberglass boats.

Note: The costs listed below apply to courses offered only at our home base in Sheffield, MA. For information about courses taught elsewhere, check the websites listed in Classes and Events: Spring, Summer, Fall.

Courses by Special Arrangement

Many of our students prefer to set up their own classes at convenient times, often on consecutive weekends.

2-4 Day Courses

In these inexpensive courses offered at sites in MA, NY, and VT, we will typically build an ultra light (20 pound), skin-on-frame, double paddle canoe or 11½’ kayak. Using our book as a text, students will have step-by-step written explanations of the skin-on-frame building process, so that — with the additional aid of plans, their own notes and photographs from this course — they will be able to build their own skin-on-frame canoe or kayak.

Depending on the number of students, we will build one or possibly two boats, which will be raffled off at the end of the class.

Tuition: $115 per day at our home base in Sheffield. For tuitions at other locations, see the appropriate websites listed in Classes and Events: Spring, Summer, Fall.

5-6 Day Courses

Build our NEW modified canoes and kayaks
During both our scheduled classes and our privately arranged classes, you can modify all of the boats described below: Lengthen or shorten the boat; make it deeper or less deep; or narrow or widen it at the bow, stern, and/or center. Look at the plans and photos in our Store for ideas and then contact us for more details.

Build a Custom Canoe or Kayak (4-8 days)
You can build a custom skin-on-frame boat by modifying the boats described below or by using our standard plans. This has become our most popular course. The website is also an excellent source of skin-on-frame plans and inspirations. Costs vary according to the boat we build.

Build the NEW Solo Light, a 10½’ Canoe (5 days)
27" wide, 9" deep, weighs about 18 pounds, maneuvers easily, and carries 250 pounds. Since this canoe is easy to car-top, you'll find yourself using it frequently. Its delicate lines and light weight make this boat my favorite.
Tuition: $1,145 (partner: $300)

Build the Solo Carry, an 11½' Canoe (5 days)
28" wide, 9½" deep, weighs about twenty pounds, maneuvers easily, and carries 300 pounds. Since this canoe is easy to car-top, you'll find yourself using it frequently.
Tuition: $1,145 (partner: $300)

Build the Solo/Tandem 13½’ Canoe (5 days)
30" wide, 10" deep, weights about 32 lbs., carries 320 lbs. Perfect for a day's paddle and a picnic. Rig it as a solo, a tandem with a carrying yoke, or as a solo/tandem.
Tuition: $1,400 (partner: $300)

Build the NEW solo/Tandem 15½’ Canoe (5 days)
31" wide, 10" deep, designed for cruising and canoe camping, tracks well, weights about 37 lbs., carries 400 lbs.
Tuition: $1,500 (partner: $300)

Build one of our NEW Solo Carry Kayaks, either 11½’ or 13½’ (6 days)
These two recreational kayaks have a large cockpit, are 28” wide and weigh either 28 or 35 lbs., depending on the length. Much lighter than store-bought boats and extremely maneuverable.


The Boat Building School is located 200 yards west of Route 7 at 98 Berkshire School Road in Sheffield, Massachusetts, in the southwest corner of the state.

Click for directions

Student Qualifications

We welcome all interested and willing students, whether they are experienced boat builders or beginners. The only necessary requirement is a strong desire to build your own boat.


The Staveleigh House B&B (800-980-2129)
Holiday Inn Express, Great Barrington (800-465-4329)
Day’s Inn (413-528- 3150)
For campers, Beartown state park,


Please include one half of your total cost with your registration, and pay the balance at the first class. If you must cancel, we will return your deposit less $50, provided that we receive your notice of cancellation at least two weeks before your first session. If we receive your notice of cancellation less than two weeks before the first session we cannot refund your deposit. In case of unforeseen circumstances, the Berkshire Boat Building School reserves the right to cancel any or all courses and will return deposits.


Educators receive a 15% discount, and students who are not educators can receive a 10% discount if their application and deposit are received 6 weeks before the class.


When we receive your application and deposit, we will notify you and confirm your registration. Click here for our registration form.

Tools and other materials

After you are registered, we will send you some suggested reading and a list of hand tools you will need for the course.

Daily Schedule

Classes: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m