Curriculum

The Preservation Carpentry Program was begun in 1986 in a response to the preservation community’s need for trained of carpenters to work for museums and specialist preservation contractors. Since then, the program has flourished and graduates are working as preservation carpenters throughout the United States. The two-year training is the only full-time, hands-on program in the United States.

First Year

Students begin their first year at the woodworking bench. This approach helps develop traditional hand-tool skills and the habits necessary for work in the field. The program’s facilities offer a fully-equipped shop and individual bench spaces. Projects are designed to help the student practice traditional skills and challenge their individual abilities.

  1. Math review
  2. Introduction to architectural drawing
    • Scales
    • Plans
    • Elevations
    • Sections
    • Details
  3. Hand tools
    • Identification
    • Use
    • Care
    • Sharpening
  4. Measurement
    • Linear
    • Area
    • Volume
    • Board footage, etc.
    • Introduction to estimating materials
  5. Safety
    • Shop
    • Job site
    • Chemical
    • Electrical
  6. Scaffolds and ladders
  7. Building code
  8. Traditional woodworking practices
  9. Portable power tools
  10. Stationary power tools
    • Use
    • Care
    • Safety of basic milling machines
  11. Contemporary construction:
    • Stick frames
      • Balloon and platform styles
      • O.C. layouts of floors, walls, and roofs
      • Door and window openings
    • Exterior finishes: trim and siding
    • Roofing: asphalt, wood, slate
  12. Framing square

  13. Timber frames: large scale joinery
  14. Preservation topics
    • Moldings
    • Orders
    • Architectural styles
  15. Periodic field trips to such sites as a sawmill, other work places and appropriate museums
  16. Summer employment counseling

The summer between the first and second year program is a time for students to use skills learned during the year in a work environment, either with a preservation contractor or in a museum setting. Each year, the school receives many requests for interns to work with local and national organizations. In addition to internships, we also recommend contractors as a source of good experience and income.

Second Year

The second year is shaped somewhat differently. The emphasis is on working directly with historic material using current preservation and conservation practices. The projects undertaken are generally at historic sites and range from short-term single-goal group projects to more comprehensive and independent efforts by individuals or smaller groups. Students should be able to provide their own transportation to onsite work.

  1. Preservation philosophies and practices
  2. Field drawings and documentation of historic buildings
  3. Photo-documentation
  4. Design drawings and full-sized layouts
  5. Geometry
    • Layout practices
  6. Framing square review
  7. Advanced roof models
  8. Safety and hazards at historic work sites
  9. Building code issues for historic structures; ADA issues
  10. Stabilization of structures
  11. Protection of fabric
  12. Historic woodworking practices
  13. Historic timber frames and common repairs
  14. Specifying and estimating materials for preservation projects
  15. Historic millwork
    • Doors
    • Windows
    • Moldings
  16. Moldings
    • Profile types
    • Hand planes
    • Table saw techniques
    • Raking molds
  17. Flat wall plaster
  18. Masonry practices
    • Use of lime based products
  19. Historic hardware and glass
  20. Historic painted finishes
  21. Pests
    • Insects
    • Rodents
    • Fungal decay
  22. Epoxies and other contemporary treatments
  23. Cyclical maintenance
  24. Current preservation issues
  25. Most site projects will take place at local historic house museums
  26. Periodic field trips to other sites
  27. Resume and portfolio preparation
  28. Employment counseling

Projects

Each selected project is the demonstration of a particular part of the curriculum. We strive to find projects that meet the curricular guidelines. Because each project is unique, we rarely repeat them.

As a non-profit organization, we generally find work with other non-profit organizations such as museums, municipalities, historical societies, and other preservation organizations in the New England area. We often partner with other preservation professionals and share their expertise with students. As a result, graduating students have developed an impressive school resume that includes experience with local and nationally recognized historic sites.

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Questions? Contact Rob O'Dwyer, Director of Admissions, at 617-227-0155 x111 or admissions@nbss.edu.
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