Ben Van Dam Boat Builder HUMAN

BEN: Wood does have a romance to it. So as it moves past you, it’s dynamic. It changes color. It changes sheen. It changes how the light reflects off of it. So it’s kind of like ever moving. That’s something that took hundreds of years to be produced in nature and it’s one of those things that kind of tugs at my heart.

While I love wooden boats, I think the part that’s most interesting to me is trying to do something at a level better than anybody else. Our mission is that we design and build the world’s finest wooden boats. My name is Ben Van Dam and we’re at Van Dam Custom Boats. THOR: The level of quality that we produce here is. it’s a pursuit of an obsession. Perfect is a function of how closely you look at something. BEN: We need the areas that you don’t see in the boat to look just as good as the areas you do see.

Everything we build is one of a kind and we build them to be passed down generation to generation. JEAN: And then there’s these beautiful curves of wood. It’s breathtaking at every stage. It’s as close to perfect as we could get possibly get. I think the most exciting part of a boat is the start, all the anticipation, all the planning, all the thought.

People walk through the door with a dream. So we try to make that happen for them. In the process of that, we start with a clean sheet of paper and after listening to what the client wants, then we start working. We’ll fully design the boat in 3D in the computer. We’ll know every little bit before it ever comes out here. Once we’ve got all that stuff kind of dialed in, it’ll roll into the shop and then from there, you know, depending on complexity, it could another seven, eight months or it could be a year and a half.

He and I, we’re always looking for the defects. So when you’re right in the middle of it, you’re always, quot;Oh, that’s not right. This isn’t right,quot; and it’s hard not to see what’s wrong with it LAUGHS even though everybody else, they might think it’s perfect. BEN: And again, that’s the beauty of having the design department here. You know, Michel can.if we’ve got something that isn’t quite lining up on the boat, we can go in there and see, quot;Okay, this is what it looks like down to four decimal points,quot; and then we can bring that back out in the shop.

It’s probably a little bit of a layout error with the shaft line. Right. So it’s gotta be a height thing here. We’ve got a paint and varnish crew in this back room and we’ve got a metal shop. JEAN: Jess has graduated into the metal, but he’s an artist with the metal. Traditional built boats had a lot of issues with water finding its way to the wood. So the process that we use, called cold molding, basically taking thin layers of wood and gluing.

Them together so there’s not voids. And in a simple sense, it’s just building up layers of wood, with thinner layers, building it up into a thicker layer. That’s how we get the strength. That’s also how we get the durability, longevity. These handcrafted boats are just really beautiful pieces to look at. They’re like a piece of artwork.


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