How to build wooden lobster traps

lobster creels image by Dougie Robertson from

Wooden lobster traps have become a rarity in modern lobstering because they are heavy, typically around 56.7 Kilogram out of water and 15.9 Kilogram submerged. Traditional wooden traps are built in many shapes, but are most commonly rectangular for ease of stacking and storage when not in use. Lobster traps must contain a gate that varies in size requirement by state that allows all the illegally-sized smaller lobsters to escape.

Place the colander into the large pot and fill pot with water. Bring water to a rapid boil and add the four pieces of fir wood. Steam for two hours and remove from heat. Steaming the wood makes it more pliable.

Wrap the steamed wood around the car tire rim, stacking them one on top of the other. Secure with twine or rope and set aside for approximately one week, after which time you can remove them. The result will be identical U-shapes.

Measure 1 inch in and centre from the end of each piece of 2 x 2 x 24-inch lumber. Mark this spot with a pencil. Drill a ¾ inch hole on each mark, for a total of two holes per piece and eight total.

Pair one tree with one piece of drilled lumber. Insert the ends of the trees into the holes, securing each with one galvanised nail. These pieces, called cells, will serve as the frame.

Arrange the cells so that they are 9 inches apart. The cells will be held together by the lattes. Nail the lattes approximately ¾ inch apart along the inside of cells to form the floor of the trap and hold the cells together. Continue this process on the outside of the cells, beginning with nailing a latte to the outer edge of the cell in front of the joint where the tree meets lumber. You should use one nail per cell, for a total of four nails per latte.

Continue nailing lattes until you have advanced over the top by two lattes. Skip the back wall and nail an additional two lattes on the bottom of this back side. The gap on the back wall is for the gate. The gate allows for easy removal of lobster from the trap. The trap is now referred to as the shell.

Build the gate using the same lumber you are using for the lattes. Measure the height of the gap on the trap shell. Cut three lattes that equal this measurement. Attach these three cut lattes vertically to three uncut horizontally positioned lattes, equally spaced apart. Secure this gate to the back wall of the shell using galvanised nails, a hammer and hinges so that the gap is covered and the gate swings open.

Cut the entrance vent. The entrance should be located on the front side of the shell (the side without the gate) between the inner cells. Measurements for the gate vary by state; check local laws to determine the exact dimensions. The gate will remain uncovered, serving as the entry point, and possible escape route, of the lobsters.

Secure wire mesh to the sides of the shell by winding rope through the holes and around the outer cells. The cells can allow for separate rooms. Attach additional wire mesh to the cells and line the edges with plastic. The bait typically goes in the "kitchen" and the other rooms are referred to as "parlors." There is no model saying which room is dubbed which; wherever the bait is located is termed the "kitchen."

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