Shipwright Keith Mitchell is a bit of a legend when it comes to making things of wood that actually matter. Things like boats, beautiful fishing nets, spoons – intentional items that bring him joy while he makes them. So when Keith reached out with the idea to make this sled together, we knew it would be a special build. Keith was trained as a boatbuilder in the Northwest and lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont where he makes amazing things with his hands and with intention. That’s not to say you won’t see a power tool, but rather an artistic approach to making lasting things that are of use. Everyone needs a good sled, especially in Vermont, so it was the perfect opportunity to send Keith some High Performance Epoxy and varnish, along with fasteners and other goodies that would make this sled a thing to behold – and to ride. Keith’s Ram’s Horn Sled is a storied design and one which he took great delight in constructing with our help and it was as special a project as we had expected!
Once you’ve watched the video, take a tour of Keith’s website at shipwrightskills.com and admire his collection of cool boats and watercraft, along with a great skill for drawing which led Keith to pen a comic series to accompany the sled build. Keith’s comic and a blog about this build can be found on his site, and it’s worth inspecting every pen mark. A preview of the first page of the hand-drawn instructions can be seen below.
Keith’s approach to making beautiful wooden things really struck a chord with us at TotalBoat. Keith was shy to try TotalBoat at first but was impressed with the 2:1 epoxy and our quick-to-overcoat Gleam Varnish and the ease of use for both products.
Keith writes a great blog post about his build on his website. He also writes something worth posting below, in case you can’t make it to click over to Keith’s site. It’s something that many people seem to have embraced in the pandemic – that is the joy and lifelong satisfaction of MAKING things by hand. The “maker” community, comprised of boatbuilders, woodworkers, DIY enthusiasts – anyone making things for the joy of it, has latched on to this theory and is enjoying a year when the world had to slow down and look at your workbench, house, shop, life – and get busy! And you’ve all been making amazing things that we have delighted in sharing with you.
Keith Mitchell/ Shipwright Skills: How many things do you own that are handmade? Not just assembled by hand, but created from scratch? I can say categorically that everything I own that is handmade gives me a more rich experience than the mass-produced version would. Handmade things reverberate with the hopes and dreams of the craftsperson. The hope that the user will find as much joy in the object as the creator did in it’s making.
The things I make are to be used, not merely looked at, but experienced, and appreciated for what they are: the culmination of years of study and practice in the pursuit of quality, thoughtful design, and beauty that will endure beyond my time.
I realize that there isn’t enough time on this earth for me to build all the things whirling in my head, but that won’t stop me from trying.