South La. boat builder makes history... using history

La. boat builder keeping traditions alive

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - History is around every corner. That can be said about many places in Louisiana, but sometimes, it’s really about the person. One Livingston Parish boat builder has made a living making history.

“I spent a year, one week on a shrimp boat. I don’t need to do that again,” said Jules Lambert.

Jules Lambert
Jules Lambert (Source: WAFB)

Just listening to Lambert is a history lesson. He has spent decades building boats out of sinker cypress... from the big boats to the models. He doesn’t go looking for that old wood anymore; he has a pretty good surplus built up, and he has the stories.

“This is the most traditional of all boats. This is a dugout,” he said.

Start with a piece of wood and chop away anything that doesn’t look like a boat. Pirogues on the other hand, come in all kinds of styles.

(Source: WAFB)

“This one has higher sides than the rest of them. This would be more of a guide boat,” Lambert said.

It takes about 50 hours to build the little models, so that’s six to eight weeks for the full size ones. He’s done about 100 of those over the years. And he still builds these boats with pieces of history... literally. A lot of his tools were his dad’s, or his grandpa’s.

(Source: WAFB)

“When I grab his handsaw, when I grab his plane, when I grab his square, it means something,” said Lambert. “That’s the youngest saw, 1964.”

Each boat is a piece of history made from history, and that old wood is everywhere in his home. There’re beds and headboards, even a sink made from wood. History hangs on his walls from generations of carpenters. Even his old high chair is still hanging around. Lessons in his craft are around every corner, and he even has grandpa’s old outhouse in the backyard.

(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

“See, it’s a three holer,” Lambert said. Yep, it’s a three holer, but no longer in use of course. In it’s most recent life, it was actually a smokehouse. That’s right, he loves his history; he’s surrounded by it. And he loves what he’s doing now as well.

“And my arc is gonna’ be about an inch and an eighth,” Lambert said.

He’s just a south Louisiana boat builder using history to make history.

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