Devlin Design & Technology
Design, whether for boats, toasters, or hotel rooms, is the process of balancing many factors and constraints into a beautiful, unified whole. Overall lines, balance of elements, visual dynamics, and sight lines all come into play. In the case of something functional, like a boat, the aesthetics are just the beginning. Power, displacement, intelligent allocation of interior space, how to get the myriad of working parts to fit, the balance of various aspects of performance for the design goals of a particular boat, and so many others… All tug at the designer’s attention in a grand walk across a tightrope until the design emerges, ready to meet its seaworthy mission.
Lots of designers can solve the technical challenges, but few if any can achieve it with the magic of classic nautical lines carried intact into a highly refined, modern, and functional final product.
The Devlin Design Team
Sam is the creative core of Devlin Designing Boat Builders and the winner of the 2012 Lifetime Achievement in Design award by Wooden Boat Magazine. He and his boats are the subjects of many magazine feature articles, and he is the teacher of many up-and-coming boat builders. He is a pioneer of modern “Stitch and Glue” building methods and has refined it to a technical art. It’s safe to say that his impact on the world of wooden boat building is second-to-none.
Lee is the Office Manager for Devlin Boats. He came up through the boat building ranks at the shop, and now keeps the machine turning. More than likely, he will be the first voice your hear when you call. That puts you in expert hands from the very beginning. He seems to know everything and everyone, and only forgets annoying technical bits involving computers.
Torsten came to us as a graduate of Seattle Community College’s Wood Technology Center. Boats are in his DNA from his father’s side (He still cares for Dad’s boat). Fascinated by Sam’s designs he built a quarter scale model of a Godzilla 16. He walked in on day one of his arrival here with a complete and thorough set of woodworking tools and a commitment to doing the best work possible. Joel likes his attitude and work ethic. Having valued his first several months working here we hope he will stay for many years to come.
Joel, aka “Ninja”, is a master craftsman of the highest order. His eyeballs are calibrated, his hands are steady, and his grumbles are frequent. He eyes tolerances that the rest of us need a micrometer to measure and can drive an accurate screw from across the room. He whips up epoxy blends like French chefs make the best fries, and bends power tools to his will. But he likes to work alone. If you look away for a blink, he’ll disappear like a ninja. In all seriousness, Joel is a boat building master.
What Makes Us Unique
For over 40 years Sam Devlin has been a pioneer in wooden boat building technique and a boat builder with a distinct sense of traditional style. He got there from the love he felt as a boy for boats that he shared with his Dad to his college summers in Alaskan fishing boats and tugs to his complete obsession with restoring a 1934 Tacoma built northwest salmon troller to a point where it’s even prettier today than the day it was launched and yet it retains the full heightened design sensibilities of its era.
When he independently came up with the stitch and glue building idea as a very young man he brought to it all of his heartfelt awe at the beauty of all Northwest and Northeast design legacies. Plywood, epoxy, fiberglass and sandpaper became the medium for honoring this historical design legacy and bringing wooden boat building into a new and contemporary form.
For all of us who love wooden boats Sam Devlin offers us everything necessary to create our own beautiful and contemporary boat. Many dozens of complete building plans, many hundreds of study plans and concept drawings, hundreds of boats completed at the shop and gracing waters throughout the US and Canada. And now through professional and amateur builders in over 85 countries around the world his boats are realities gracing international waterways and touching hearts everywhere.
We want you all to have the opportunity to be a part of this through our construction plans for all types of boats from 7 feet to 65 feet and through our custom builds for those who want a Devlin design built at our shop in Olympia, Washington.
This is maybe the most unique attribute of Devlin Boat Company. Sam designs and builds and then goes cruising throughout the Northwest. This combination of builder, designer, and active boater in one person brings something to his plans and boats that few other companies can offer.
Building a boat, turning pieces of wood into a functional, artistic and elegant shape — be it dinghy, sailboat, fishing boat, troller, cruiser, or anything in between — is wonderfully rewarding. Check out our Design Gallery for a design worthy of your craftsmanship.
And if you’re new to boat building, we’ve got resources to help you get started.
How can we help you build a boat?