The first ships built in the New World were built for fishing and fur trading. The ships were built from trees that grew in nearby forests. Some African American enslaved people were trained as boatmen building smaller boats. Former slave, Frederick Douglass worked for his master in the shipyard near Baltimore when he was just 11 years old. Later Colonial ships were larger and were used for passengers and trading. The largest ship yards were in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
Some tools they used were:
Shipbuilding was hard and complicated work. To be a shipbuilder you needed to know math and angles. Shipbuilders were architects, carpenters, joiners, caulkers, sailmakers, and designers.
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Source: Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Shipbuilders. New York: Benchmark, 1998, c1971.