All Hands Boatworks exists to build character, opportunities, and hope in
Milwaukee's youth
thro ugh wooden boatbuilding, work experiences, and on-water activities.

Keep updated with AHB each month by making sure you are receiving our emails into your "Inbox." 

"This is better than anything else going on after school, for sure!"

-Elias, South Division High School CLC    


148 and Counting

Over the past month, I have been thinking about all the kids who have been participating in our Building To Teach boatbuilding programs since our founding in May 2013.  Back then, we were just finishing a successful "pilot year" as a special project of the River Revitalization Foundation.  Fifty-one kids had participated in the construction of four Bevin's Skiffs.  Following our incorporation last May, I believed that we might be able to double that number over the next 12 months through additional projects, hard work, and continued support.  Thus far, in just eight months, our participant numbers have exceeded my expectations.  As of this month, 148 boys and girls -- that's 296 pairs of helping hands -- have been engaged in wooden boatbuilding projects through AHB! 

Now, I'd be the first to say that sheer volume of participation in our programs is not as important as the impact we have on kids who can stick with our project from lofting the boat plans to launching their craft.  That's where their new-found perseverance, craftsmanship, and confidence begins to shine.  

Still, I am learning that there is also value for those who "hang with us" only occasionally.  Sometimes, they come for a single two-hour session; others come more often, as they juggle our program with other after-school activities.  And then there are the "regulars" who develop a commitment and ownership to their boat project.  For all 148 (and counting), we try to create for them in every work session an environment where they feel safe, valued, and empowered to learn something new.  Even if it's for only two hours out of their entire day.  Nothing is more gratifying than to hear them say, "I want to learn more."  "I want to do more of this."  "When can I build another boat with you?"  Now that's what I call industry!


Do You Know Sloyd?

AHB knows Sloyd.  In 1881, visionary educator Pauline Agassiz Shaw founded the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA, to train immigrants for employment in traditional trades. She saw the school’s mission as teaching not merely how to make a living, but how to live.

She was a fervent proponent of the Swedish system of manual training known as “sloyd” which means “craft” or “hand skills.” The sloyd method focuses on the development of character and intellectual capacity as well as technical skills. The method encourages students to systematically develop hand skills along with an understanding of tools, materials, processes and a sense of care and commitment to excellence. Shaw saw the school’s mission as teaching the “whole person” both how to make a living and how to live a fuller life.

Today, the North Bennet Street School is the only remaining educational sloyd in the country.

All Hands Boatworks is inspired by the wisdom of the sloyd method and philosophy in its efforts to be a positive change agent in young people’s lives here in Milwaukee.

Welcome New Members

Welcome to the newest members of All Hands Boatworks. The following individuals are now "Founding 50" members. We are very grateful for their support.

Tom and Mary Frank

Become a "Founding 50" Member Today

If you aren't already a member of All Hands Boatworks, consider becoming a FOUNDING MEMBER of Milwaukee’s newest and coolest youth empowerment initiative.  Join “the crew” and support our efforts to educate, mentor, and guide some of the most at-risk children and teens throughout Milwaukee’s most under-resourced neighborhoods.

Get involved and become a Founding Member today.  All Founding Members receive an AHB membership card.  Members will also receive early notice and discounts on future workshops, special events, family programs, merchandise, and permanent recognition on the Founders Honor Roll.  An individual membership is $100.  A couple or family membership is $150.

Please bear with us as we develop our website tools.  Right now, we are "old school."  If you would like membership information, please send us your address, and we'll mail it to you right away:


Remember, you don't have to become a member to get involved, and, of course, a donation in any amount is greatly appreciated. 

AHB and Nehemiah Project To Partner
on Boys' Boatbuilding Project

The Nehemiah Project is a Milwaukee nonprofit organization that provides transitional living, educational, leadership, and psychological services for young men at-risk or who have become involved with the criminal justice system.  The Nehemiah Project operates two group homes on the East and West sides of Milwaukee. 

Beginning next month, All Hands Boatworks will partner with the Nehemiah Project and its boys to construct a wooden boat which will be auctioned at their May fundraiser.  The goal of the event is to raise support for a much-needed literacy program for their boys.  AHB will be building a new craft with them.  Details about the new project have not been unveiled yet.  Stay tuned. 

AHB is excited about this opportunity to work with the Nehemiah Project and to future projects that will support Nehemiah's core programs:  independent living skills; pre-employment training; leadership development; and foregiveness and wellness.

Family Boatbuilding - It's Not Too Late To Build Your Own Canoe!

Feb. 22 (9 am-4 pm), Mar. 1 (9 am-4 pm) and Mar. 8 (if necessary)
Lynden Sculpture Garden
2145 W. Brown Deer Rd.

Register for this introduction to boatbuilding workshop by February 14 and learn new craft skills as you and a family member build a handsome, 15-foot plywood canoe that will be ready to launch when the ice melts in the spring. This is a one-person canoe ideally suited for calm inland waters.
 No previous experience necessary.

Fee: $399 --  For members of All Hands Boatworks  or Lynden Sculpture Garden.   $425 for non-members.  This is the fee for a team of two. All materials are included and you keep the boat you make.

Registration: This workshop is ideally designed for one adult and one child (ages 10-17).  Space is limited to four teams. Advance registration and payment in full is required.  Visit the LSG website to register:

We Need Many Hands!

Imagine a community-based boat shop on the river that is a safe harbor for Milwaukee youth and a vibrant hands-on learning center that values craftsmanship, connects us with our rivers and lakes, and inspires personal growth. A place where youth – and adults -- build boats and much more.


YOU can help BUILD All Hands Boatworks
by getting involved. 

friends, teachers, youth workers, business sponsors...

VISIT one of our Building To Teach
in-residency" projects.

DONATE to support our youth.

VOLUNTEER to be trained as a boatbuilding
educator or help behind-the-scenes.  

                Let's start a conversation. 
               We'd love to hear from you.

                     Bill Nimke, Founder
                          (262) 290-0228


148 and Counting

Do You Know Sloyd?

Welcome New Members

Founding 50 Drive

Nehemiah Project Partnership

Family Boatbuild Workshop

Why I Volunteer

Volunteers Meeting


All Hands Boatworks wishes to thank CAP WOOD PRODUCTS in Waukesha for allowing us to stage and prep our lumber for our youth and family boat-building projects.  Cap Wood Products manu-factures high-end, custom wood furniture and cabinets for retail as well as production runs and component wooden parts for other industries. 

      Thank You CWP!

Why I Volunteer

By Marty Horning

How did I end up as a volunteer boatbuilder? The simple answer is that All Hands Boatworks is doing good things with our youth! That’s what I dedicated myself to over the last thirty-five years; so anyone whom I find having the same mission is good with me. I am a retired MPS educator who spent the last eighteen years on a journey to engage young people in experiential educational projects - learning-by-doing. For my money, there is no more powerful educational experience than “hands-on” learning.

In my last year at the New School for Community Service, we brought the “All Hands” crew on board to involve a group of our students in a boatbuilding project. We thought that this project would not only help improve our students’ academic skills, but also teach them teamwork, cooperation, and technical skills needed in today’s job market. The project was a great success. Our students were able to experience the pride and joy of seeing “their boat” launched in the Milwaukee River last spring. Along with the boatbuilding, we also connected our kids with our precious waterways. It was a magical day for all!

I determined that when I retired, I would do whatever I could to support this worthy effort. I hope you will consider doing the same.




. . . stay tuned.

All Hands Boatworks, Inc.

1845 N. Farwell Ave.,
Suite 100

Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (262)290-0228

For all inquiries, 
please email -

All Hands Boatworks is a member of the Teaching With Small Boats Alliance.

All Hands Boatworks is a certified Building To Teach trainer.

All Hands Boatworks, Inc. is a project of the Milwaukee Environmental Consortium,
a 501(c)(3) nonprofit