1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting More V-berth Cabinet Panels

I’ve been knocking out the V-berth cabinetry one panel at a time, starting on the starboard side with the head (AKA the ‘throne room), followed by the bed foundation, the curvy side walls, the forward bulkhead, the closet, the upright walls around the bed, and finally the ‘desk-like structure‘. I just have one more cabinet to make, a few moldings, and some veneer work, and the V-berth cabinetry will be wrapped up. But as I was cutting the panels for that last cabinet and thinking about what shape to make the V-berth door moldings, it occurred to me that I’ve got to finish up the galley storage cabinet before I can complete the V-berth.

The porthole surround panel fits very nicely

It will look a lot better after I put the mahogany veneer on.

Next, I cut the lower cabinet upright panel

For angle cuts on plywood, I use the edge of my tracksaw as a guide for my old beater Skilsaw.

Not bad for the first cuts!

A few more slices, and it fits nicely

Yes, I use a level on a boat

Every six months or so, I check that the floors of the boat are level fore to aft and port to starboard. I adjust the boatstands as necessary. This allows me to use a level, which is something you could never do with a boat that was on the water. I used the level to mark the height of the lower cabinet panel on the porthole surround panel, so I could take measurements for the top panel.

Pocket screws will secure the aft edge of the panel

A mahogany cleat and screws will secure the forward edge.

Looks good

The reasons this cabinet is this shape…

The aluminum frames stick up proud of the floor here, and there’s an aluminum pipe welded to the hull that was originally the V-berth head sink drain outlet. I’ll use that as the raw water outlet coming from the marine air conditioner that will be inside the ‘desk-like structure.’ I need access to the raw water outlet for hose maintenance, so I’ll make a cabinet space in here with a removable bottom panel.

Then it dawned on me: gotta finish that galley storage cabinet

As I was doing all this cutting and fitting, I was thinking about the molding that will go around this door opening. There will be a sliding door, so on the left side the molding will have to have a pocket for the door to slide into. The molding will also cap the edge of the plywood. But the okume plywood is not pretty, which means I also need to cut and fit the 1/8″ mahogany plywood I bought for the galley bulkhead walls. I have some leftover ribbon-stripe veneer that I’ll use on the V-berth side of the door opening. But to install the mahogany plywood on the galley side, I first have to wrap up that storage cabinet over the door opening that I haven’t touched in more than a year.

So…that’s the path forward.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Wrapping Up the Galley Storage Cabinet


1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More Work On The V-berth ‘Desk-like Structure’

The V-berth is coming along slowly, but it’s looking pretty good so far. I just got a call from Flagship Marine, and they say my air conditioners will be on the way soon. So I need to get the HVAC space in the V-berth ready. Since there will be plumbing going to and from the unit, unlike most other panels on the boat, I need to make sure that the panels in the HVAC space are solidly attached but can also be removed if I have to do maintenance, like hose replacement.

The V-berth concept drawings didn’t have a lot of detail

What I called the ‘desk-like structure’ is turning out to be more of a decorative HVAC cabinet and step-up to climb into the bunk.

The air conditioner base frames are glued and screwed in place

Insert (or remove) the base panel by rotating it diagonally

Slide the base panel under the two cleats on either side, then rotate it to square it up with the sides.

Squared up…then push back

Nice fit…with a coat of epoxy on all the edges, it should be just slightly snug

Final test fit for the back panel

The back panel must be removed in order to remove the base panel. Because the HVAC unit draws room air from within this space (after it goes through a return grill with a filter), there can be no leaks to the bilge or hull envelope. So every joint has a cleat backing it up or is otherwise tight to adjacent panels. The fit looks good, so now I’ll seal up all faces and edges.

A heavy coat of epoxy seals up the wood

I’m not worried about making this panel pretty. It’s a 1″ thick piece of 1969-era plywood that was originally part of a bulkhead on the boat. I removed the latex paint that somebody rolled on, but since it’s inside a mechanical space that’ll rarely be seen, that’s as clean as it’s going to get.

The marine grade Douglas fir back panel gets white-tinted epoxy

Cutting the final panel

This panel will have the HVAC filtered return air grill in it

Flagship is a dealer for Marine Systems, Inc., a company that makes HVAC grills and ducting parts for marine and RV applications. I considered making my own grills, but some things are just better off left to specialists. And I like the fact that their ducting parts are plastic. Metal duct parts would have been a lot cheaper and readily available locally, but then I’d be dealing with rust eventually.

The side to side fit is looking good

Need to lop a bit off the top

EZ-One track saw makes straight cuts a breeze

Next, I glued and screwed the top and rotated the base in place

Not bad!

That turned out OK

Looks better with the step hatch in place

Ribbon-stripe mahogany panel tops the whole thing

I was tempted to epoxy the 1/4″ mahogany  top panel in place and call the ‘desk-like structure’ a wrap, but it occurred to me that the back edge of this panel will hide the corner joint for the panels that go to the left of it. So I’m holding off on finishing this until I get the porthole window surround panel and the base panels below it done.

Oh! And if you’re looking for 12v LED overhead lights, an online buddy alerted me to these Quick brand marine overhead lights on ebay for $25 a pop. They put out a lot of uniform light for only 6 watts. I bought ten for the salon!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Cutting More V-berth Cabinet Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Even More V-berth Cabinetry IV

I’m still making good progress on the V-berth, cutting and fitting at least one panel with each trip to the yard. I’ve also been spending lots of time spec’ing out marine air conditioners and thinking about duct routing. I don’t want to get a cabinet done and then have to rip in and relocate it to accommodate ducting.

The V-berth “desk-like structure”

With the “desk-like structure” roughed out,  and all of the V-berth bed foundation vertical panels cut, now I can cut the last of the top panels and the 1/4″ ribbon striped mahogany plywood that will top all of that.

Sticks and a hot glue gun help make another template

Transfer the pattern to the plywood and start cutting

Looking good!

Figuring out the orientation of the top panels for the ribbon-striped mahogany

I think I’ve got just enough of the ribbon stripe panel leftovers to finish up the room. It’s going to be close.

Tracing the panel shape onto the ribbon-stripe ply

Because of the bevel cuts in the plywood, I have to be really careful to make the top surface of the ribbon-stripe panels stick out farther than the fir plywood.

Pretty good fit! Just needs a little trimming

Tendonitis is slowing me down a bit…but that’s a nice fit to the curvy side wall

Brushed a few coats of varnish on the underside of the desk-like structure

Cutting the last ribbon-stripe mahogany panel

Talk about cutting it close… I don’t have any more ribbon stripe scraps left over that are big enough to finish this last panel. If I mess up the cuts, I’ll have to buy more.

Man…that’s close

Hand plane helps knock off just a teensy bit of material on the bevel for a nice fit

My new favorite jigsaw blades: Bosch T234X

These bad boys cut a very nice line and are super sharp. The alternating blades leave a very clean V on the leading edge of the cut (you can see it in the pic above). Just line the tip of one side of the V up to the pencil line and go, then test fit the panel and sand any high spots back.


With all of the V-berth bed foundation and desk-like structure panels cut and dry fitted, next I need to make a complicated molding to hold one joint together, then disassemble the whole thing in preparation for insulating the back-side, sealing the edges, base coat refinishing, and final assembly.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: V-berth Cabinetry Corner Molding

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Installing the V-berth Closet

The V-berth closet is coming together pretty well. I just have to cut the 1/4″ ribbon striped mahogany plywood exterior panel so it will match the rest of the panels in this room. I’ve also been spending lots of time in the evening updating many early articles, since pictures I’d originally stored on Photobucket are no longer viewable. All it would show is an error picture saying you had to upgrade for 3rd party hosting or something. So I had to go back, figure out which pictures went where, download them from Photobucket, then upload to WordPress, and update  the URLs. Downloading from Photobucket was extremely tedious, since they’ve gone to an obnoxious popup and video ad model that crowds out its own navigation. The ‘download album’ feature doesn’t work. So I had to download each picture individually, and there were lots of them. gak

Anyway, that’s all fixed now and the V-berth is starting to look like I envisioned it years ago.

The V-berth concept

I made the concept drawings during the dark times of the paperwork SNAFU. It’s cool to see it becoming reality.

Pocket screws will secure the mahogany door opening parts

Glued and screwed in place

I wetted out all of the joints with epoxy, then mixed in some wood flour and cabosil and slathered it on all of the joints before assembling the parts. After wiping up the epoxy that squeezed out, I left it overnight to cure.

Looks pretty close to the concept!

I used the ugliest sheet of 1/2″ mahogany plywood in the stack for the forward closet panel, so next I need to cut the last ribbon-striped 1/4″ panel to cover up the ugly. That way, the outside of the closet will match the grain and color of the rest of the V-berth panels.

Marking and cutting the last ribbon-striped panel

Before installing the ugly closet panel, I had used it as a pattern for the pretty ribbon stripe.

Not a bad fit. Needs some trimming

A bit long on the bottom, too

Beveling the back edge to match the side panel should help the fit all around

I needed to knock more off the bottom than the top to match the curvy angles of the V-berth side wall. These are very complex pieces to make for a rookie like me. I take off a bit of the back edge, check the fit, mark where more material needs to come off, then take the panel down again, remove a bit more material, check the fit and repeat. You wouldn’t believe how much time it takes me to cut and fit just one panel!

BINGO! It just fits inside the rabbet in the closet door opening

Still a bit proud on the bottom

There’s a 5″ gap between the bottom of the ribbon-striped panel and the bed foundation. I plan to fill that gap with some pretty mahogany solid stock I’ve got, which will also cap all of the exposed plywood edges along the bed foundation top.

A little hand planing back to the pencil line does the job


Friction fit holds the panel in place

I’ll have my painter spray ICA base coat clear on this panel after I’ve built out the rest of the V-berth cabinetry. Once it’s all cut and fitted, I’ll disassemble the whole thing, seal the edges and insulate the backsides, then I’ll bond the ribbon-striped panel to the closet panel with epoxy as I assemble the whole thing. In theory, I’ll have the V-berth done by the end of August.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More V-berth Cabinetry

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The V-berth Closet

With the curvy V-berth walls and the bed foundation installed, next I’ve got to build the closet/hanging locker on the starboard side. This is way more complicated that it needs to be because I once trusted a guy who had a good reputation as a woodworker–I call him Mr. Good-but-slow since that’s how he described himself. Turns out the slow part was right but the good part…not so much. As I explained when I was installing the lower V-berth cabinet, ol’ Good-but-slow had installed the face of the V-berth head wall panel square to the floor, but the leading edge was ~4° out of square…it leans in at the top. That error wasn’t visually apparent until I tried to install the cabinet. It’s too late to fix it now, so I spend a lot of time hiding it. For the closet, instead of being able to make the solid mahogany pieces nice and square, I’ve got to cut miters that match the out-of-square that Good-but-slow built into that wall. This adds a lot of tedious tinkering to a project that’s already complicated enough.

Pocket screws hold the new corner piece in place

Miters scare me

I have to be really careful when cutting miters. I leave each stick a bit too long, then fiddle around with the angles until I get them dialed in. I also had to joint the bottom of the lower cabinet door opening piece to match Mr. Good-but-slow’s custom ~86° angle on the okume wall.  Once all the angles are right, I cut off bit by bit and back the miter in until it just fits.

Oh, and if anybody’s wondering, I’ll be putting nice mahogany moldings and fiddles on all of the exposed plywood edges eventually. That’s detail work that’s not mission critical right now.

Getting close…need to adjust the miter a couple of degrees

Not too shabby

I’ll knock off the little tip that sticks out at the bottom when all of the pieces have been fitted together.

It’s a good idea to protect the pretty wood with corrugated paper

I added a 1/2″ plywood strip to the overhead frame

The overhead frame wasn’t quite in the right spot to attach the mahogany closet panel I’ll be cutting soon. So I added some strips of 1/2″ marine plywood that will make the panel square. Next, I fitted the solid mahogany corner piece that will attach to the leading edge of the mahogany panel I haven’t made yet.

Machining a 1/2″ groove in the corner piece

Nice fit to the 1/2″ mahogany plywood

Looking good!

One challenge is that it’s so hot in the tent, even with 20″ box fans blasting away on high at each work station, sweat runs down my arms and onto the wood I’m working with. Once it gets that hot, it’s time to go home. I spent the whole weekend making these three little pieces. Granted, they weren’t straightforward, and the fit is nice…I guess that makes me the real Mr. Good-but-slow. 😉

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: More On the V-berth Closet

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Insulating and Final Install of the V-berth Bed Foundation

With all of the V-berth bed foundation plywood panels cut and fitted, next I edge sealed them, insulated the undersides, installed, and then coated the top with white-tinted epoxy.

Cutting the R3 Buffalo Batt non-woven insulation

As I’ve said before, insulating the backside of each panel that faces the hull envelop adds a lot of time to the process, but I think in the end it will be worth it.

Port panel insulation is cut and ready for epoxy

Starboard panel insulation is cut

Might as well insulate the mahogany cabinet panel at the same time

The transformer hatch

Insulation pressed onto the epoxy-coated plywood

Saturate with epoxy, lay out the insulation, press any edges that lift off the epoxy, and go home

It was well over 100°F in the tent by the time I was done. The epoxy kicks fast! But it’s a horrible environment to work in.

Next day…ready to install

First, clamp, glue (epoxy), and screw the mahogany cabinet panel in place

Next, glue and screw all of the bed foundation panels in place


The white-tinted epoxy is somewhat translucent, so colors from the wood surface come through. But overall I like the look. The most important thing is that, being fully encapsulated in epoxy, it binds and seals all of the veneer fibers while providing a durable finish that will preserve and protect the panels for as long as I have the boat…and beyond.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The V-berth Closet

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The V-berth Bed Foundation Frames

The V-berth is coming together nicely, though it is taking more time than I expected. The heat and humidity in the tent is a major contributing factor. I tend to head home once I reach a good stopping point on one project even though there are plenty of other things I could do. It’s just too hot in there. Stepping outside on a 90° day with typical east coast humidity, it feels cool compared to inside. But enough of the whining. I’m getting close to having the V-berth bed foundation done. But along the way, I discovered a problem with my Eureka Zone track saw that took a half-day to figure out and resolve.

The trouble all started with my Shopsmith jointer

I used the jointer to true some mahogany boards that will become the cabinet corners for the V-berth closet. But while making those pieces I discovered a problem with the jointer fence.

When the leading edge of the jointer fence is square…

…it’s out of square at the knives

When I square the fence at the knives…

It’s out of square at the leading edge

This twist in the fence explains a really frustrating problem I had getting the cabinet corner angles right. Word has it Shopsmith may machine these cast iron fences when the castings are still ‘green’, and twist in them is reportedly fairly common. The company considers 0.015″ twist to be within spec, but that strikes me as pretty sloppy for such an expensive machine.

Jointed pine board is square

The trick I’ve learned is to set the fence square at the knives and press the material against the fence there. But since I had the square out, I was curious how square my saws were.

Tracksaw blade is perfectly square

But one pass down the jointed pine board shows it doesn’t cut square

This problem with the tracksaw completely threw me for a loop. How can the blade be square but the cuts not be???

It turns out that the anti-chip edge on the track and the tracksaw base on the saw were the problem. Earlier versions of the anti-chip edges were less rigid and they’d just compress down on the wood when the saw was pushed along. But the current version of the anti-chip edges are very rigid, so when the saw base engages with it the base rides up on the anti-chip edge, lifting that side of the saw. When one side of the saw lifts up, it throws the blade out of square to the track and the wood it’s sitting on.

The white plastic part is the anti-chip edge insert

How far off is the cut?

I measured the top and bottom of the strip I cut off the jointed pine board. The top measured 0.132″.

The bottom measured 0.107″

0.025″ off of square over 1-1/2″ is a long bloody ways out of square. I hadn’t mentioned some problems I was having getting panels to fit square, but this explains why that was happening. The whole time, I thought it was just me being a rookie!

I suppose another way to look at it is that it is a rookie move not to have figured this out sooner. 😉

Anyway, I spent the better part of an hour making tiny adjustments to the saw tilt and cutting off pieces from the pine board until I finally got the angle just right.

An hour later the blade was finally adjusted right

Top and bottom of the cut are within 0.001″

The tracksaw now cuts perfectly square

Unfortunately, this means that all of those 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleats I made out of the old to rail are out of square! Attaching panels to them without re-sawing or jointing them will put the panels out of square. I guess it’s better to figure this out now than to wrestle with poorly fitting panels later. Still, it’s frustrating to have an expensive tool betray me like this. (I know…rookies blame the tool. lol)

With my saws and jointers all square, I finally got around to cutting the frames for the bed foundation.

Time to add some framing

Swapped out the jointer for the bandsaw

6′ ruler helps ensure all the frames are on the same plane

End of a long day

I’ve got most of the bed foundation support frames cut, and the two longitudinal plywood pieces glued and screwed in place. I’ll finish cutting the rest of them over the weekend, then epoxy them all in place.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Wrapping Up the V-berth Bed Foundation Frames