Why Tumblehome

Reuben Smith’s Tumblehome Boatshop is committed to the high‐end restoration and new construction of historic and classic wooden boats. We opened the doors in our current location in February 2012, expanding into the space next door, which we call The Boathouse, two years later.

During restoration and new construction of a boat, we invite our clients to the boatshop to follow the progress on their boats, and we provide detailed and regular progress reports so that owners remain informed and involved throughout the process. We are proud members of the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC).

Commitment & Focus

Our focus is on listening to our client’s needs for their boats, then determining an optimal approach that will provide both the boat and its owner with an end-result that is beautiful, carefully considered, and above all, safe and enjoyable.

But our involvement doesn’t end once your boat is in the water. We’re committed to providing you with the information, resources, and services necessary to keep your boat operating in top form.

Expertise and Reach

As a restoration shop known for restoring Fay & Bowens and Sound InterClubs, Tumblehome is uniquely experienced in light carvel construction, such as found on early launches and runabouts, and small knockabout sailers. We have access to exquisite grades of white oak for bending frames and other structural parts, and seek out the finest planking materials, from wana, to Atlantic White and Northern White Cedar, and cypress. We have done large projects of all riveted construction, and will have bronze screws custom cut to fit the needs of the boat, if stock fasteners aren’t correct.

We also do many lapstrake boats, such as Lymans, Hutchinsons, and Chris Craft Sea Skiffs, but also range into the delicate, smooth-skin lapstrake construction of a lightweight Adirondack Guideboat.

Of course, being in lake country, we also are very familiar with the standard varnished mahogany runabouts from Gar Wood, Chris-Craft, Hackercraft, Hutchinson, and Century. We are experienced with the various woods and methods of construction used by the different factories, and different eras.

Our default position is to restore the boats in the same manner as they were built. However, if there is evidence that there was a structural deficiency in the original boat, we will address it in our rebuild–with the owner’s permission. Our restored boats are meant to be used as hard as they were when they were new, and our owners can experience, in detail, the feel of their boat when it was new. Our boats are not going to be more rigid, trimmed differently, or be heavier or lighter than when new. No modern glues and compounds are an improvement over attention to detail, quality work, and quality lumber and fasteners.

We are always excited to take what we know of earlier boats and apply that knowledge to new builds. We are always eager to work closely with owners to develop and then produce the boat of their dreams. Every detail about a boat, from the shape of the bottom, to the ergonomics of the helm, can accommodate desires of an owner.

Generally, we don’t offer stock designs, because they are compromises. We will work with you to build you just the boat you desire, and have it fit your needs as well as your dreams.

And as far as the construction of a new boat, we won’t simply take an old design and construction and attempt to assemble it with modern methods and glues; we’ll engineer the new boat to suit the most contemporary methods of modern, vacuum-bagged cold molded construction.

Learn more about our services here. 

"This area has a long and storied boatbuilding history, of which we - Tumblehome and myself - have claimed a piece of its future. I truly believe my boat will go down in local history as the best of the best." - owner, Stella Blue, the Tumblehome 24 custom speedboat

Our Mission and Vision

Tumblehome Boatshop aspires to be the premiere wooden boat shop in the Eastern United States, providing historic craftsmanship and unparalleled service to our clients and their special boats.

At Tumblehome Boatshop, we are dedicated to:

  • Preserving, restoring, and building wooden boats of historic, regional, and technological significance, using materials and methods right for the boat and its owner.
  • Being a valued partner to our local community and the boatbuilding community through education and information, support, and shared interests and values.
  • Providing education and opportunities to highly skilled boatbuilders, thus passing on historic craftsmanship to future generations.

Learn more about our experience and process here.