I am interested in projects of all sizes. Please contact me to discuss your needs at 715-373-0126, or email me at jwswan@gmail.com. Thanks.

Powered by Squarespace


I own and operate a one man wooden boatworks located on the South shore of Lake Superior in Northern Wisconsin, specializing in building and restoring wooden boats and canoes. I strive to offer you an honest price, whether it is a restoration project or new construction. If you would like to contact me regarding a project, please feel free to call my shop at (715) 373-0126. You can also reach me via email at jwswan@gmail.com.

I grew up in North Central Wisconsin, where after graduating from High School in Eau Claire I made my way out to the International Yacht Restoration School, in Newport, Rhode Island. I had always had an interest in woodworking, and I thought that if I learned how to build a boat out of wood, those skills would be relevant and transferrable in helping me find the type of employment I sought. I found great satisfaction with the rules and practices of traditional wooden boat construction, and decided that I wanted to try to pursue a career in the field.

While East, I was also lucky enough to spend a winter working wth Jack McGreivey, owner of McGreivey's Canoe Shop in Cato, New York, restoring wood/canvas canoes. I was also very fortunate to be employed at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York, where I worked for two seasons as the museum's boatbuilder-in-residence. The Adirondack Museum is an incredible institution, boasting one of the country's most complete collections of small craft, complimented by one of the country's best museum curators, Hallie Bond. Working with Hallie remains a highlight of my professional expriences. At the Museum I was able to work with a great volunteer corp, and I was lucky enough to be able to help pilot their public boatbuilding program.

I moved back to Madison, Wisconsin in 2003 and set up shop as J.W. Swan Boatworks. While in Madison I spent the Spring semester of 2005 working as an Artisan-in-Residence in the UW-Madison Department of Art. Working with a blend of undergradute and graduate students, we built a Maine Coast Peapod. Interacting with both students and professors was a nice change of pace from the relative isolation of working alone in my shop.

My wife, Charmaine and I moved north to Ashland, Wisconsin in the Summer of 2005. She had just finished Graduate School and we were both eager to strike North for Lake Superior. We have found a great community of people nestled in a beautiful landscape. In the Fall of 2006 I recieved a grant from the Center for Wooden Boats, in Seattle Washington, that allowed me to travel to Norheimsund, Norway to spend six weeks at the Hardanger Fartoyvernsenter, a dynamic waterfront boatyard focusing on keeping alive the relationship between a village and its place on the water.

I feel very grateful for the opportunites and experiences I have had so far, and I look forward to what the coming years might bring us living here on the South shore of Lake Superior.  And now with our two year old son Axel, I look forward to a day maybe not so long from now when I can call my shop J.W. Swan and Son Boatworks. At least during the summers while school is out.