Learning the Three Piece Mould

By Jerome Canning

The three-piece mould is an old method for designing and building boats. A lot of the first boats to come off our beaches and take to the fishing waters were boats built with these curved sticks of wood. The method was widely used in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1800s. Moulds still survive in some communities; but mostly as items saved from the old boat sheds of our past builders.

Eric McKee writes about this type of mould in his book: Working Boats of Britain – Their Shape and Purpose. He notes, “The three moulds can be used by anyone to get out the frames, which allows the master builder to keep control while others do the manual work. A set of three whole moulding aids can be used to produce a wide range of boats, either by changing the sir marks (pencil marks showing the position of each piece to form different timber shapes) or even re-adjusting them by eye.”

Sadly there are only a few (if any) boat builders who know how to use this method. This summer, I’ll be figuring out how this old method worked. It’s one of the more exciting aspects of my job as boat builder in Winterton. Our old boat shapes may be lost to our generation but the three-piece mould could possibly be our songlines to those old shapes.

three-piece-mould
The three-piece mould was a method widely used in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1880s. Source: David. A Taylor
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