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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Aft Stateroom Porthole Surround Panels V

With the port side transom porthole surround panels cut and dry-fitted, the two major vertical panels are temporarily attached to the hull frames and square to each other, and the transom vent chutes are cut and fitted, I’m ready to make the starboard side panels.

Short upright panel is a remnant

Short upright panel is a remnant

The panel above was a leftover from the aft stateroom walls. There’s always a question about whether or not to keep scraps since they take up space and can make for a messy work area. But this one turned out to be a good choice even with a dripped epoxy stain on one corner. That corner will be up against the framing…you’ll never see it.

Pocket screws will secure the panel to the overhead beam

Pocket screws will secure the panel to the overhead beam

Next, cut the 1/4" mahogany plywood surround panel

Next, cut the 1/4″ mahogany plywood surround panel

Good lookin' wood!

Good lookin’ wood!

Use the port side horizontal panel as a pattern

Use the port side horizontal panel as a pattern

Gotta love that EZ-One track saw for perfectly angled cuts

Gotta love that EZ-One track saw for perfectly angled cuts

Next, cut the rabbet for the 1/4" panel

Next, cut the rabbet for the 1/4″ panel

Looks about right

Looks about right

I love it when a plan comes together

I love it when a plan comes together

I’ve been thinking of next steps on the cabinetry back here and decided to take advantage of that triangular space below the horizontal panel. Looks like a good place for a shelf…

More plywood scraps will make a nice cabinet box

More plywood scraps will make a nice cabinet box

An epoxy drip messed up the edge of this panel, but most of it gets cut off

An epoxy drip messed up the edge of this panel, but most of it gets cut off anyway

If that epoxy drip had been an inch farther away from the edge, I wouldn’t have been able to use this panel. How’s that for good aim!?! 🙂

The track saw quickly cuts nice rabbets

The track saw quickly cuts nice rabbets in the bottom piece

More rabbets on the side panel

More rabbets on the side panel

Nice fit!

Nice fit!



Now THAT's a square box

Now THAT’s a square box. The rabbets are all that’s holding it together.



That’s a wrap for the starboard porthole surround panels. I’ll make a similar box for the port side, too. But the stack of panels needing clear coating is getting too big. I’ve been talking with my painter, and he indicated that he could come sand and spray panels on a weekend day if there’s a space at my boat to do it. We did that before when he painted the windshield frame on the aft deck. But the problem with that approach is that it takes a day to cover the whole boat, including the aft deck, in plastic. And to avoid dried overspray becoming airborne dust particles, we’d have to re-cover the whole thing after each painting session. That’s a lot of wasted time and money.

So…I talked to the yard owner and have been given permission to make a portable paint booth. The plan I’ve come up with will yield a clean room spray booth that’s big enough to spray the 16′ long mahogany safety rails, and it’ll have filtered intake and exhaust. We’ve been using the same paint fume extractor and exhaust filters as Weaver Boatworks, the local boat manufacturer where my Boatamalan painter* works. So if it’s good enough for a commercial builder it ought to suffice for somebody who only does this stuff on a few weekends. When not in use, it’ll fold up against the side of Tent Model XXX. If it works out the way I want, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to set it up. That’s the plan. We’ll see how it turns out…

*Boatamalan: portmanteau indicating highly skilled boat workers of Central American origin. They’re actually from Honduras, but boat + [Guat]amalan has a nicer ring to it. ;-)

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Making an Origami Spray Booth

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: The V-berth “Throne Room” III

When last I wrote about the V-berth head (AKA the “throne room”), the throne area was pretty well roughed out and epoxy was curing on the last panel I attached to the side cabinet. The side cabinet will serve two purposes: it acts as the “chase” through which wiring, water, and the sink drain pipe will pass out of sight. The second, and more readily apparent, purpose will be that it’s where the toilet paper will be stored, behind two 1/4″ mahogany plywood bypass sliding doors. The next thing I need to do is to make the cabinet interior, glue it all together, insulate the outside of the cabinet interior panels (we don’t want condensation dripping on toilet paper in winter 😉 ), then cut the cabinet face panel opening. Since, like many things on this refit, I’ve never made cabinets before, this should be interesting.

Clamps off; the side cabinet carcass is glued and screwed together

Clamps off; the side cabinet carcass is glued and screwed together

More scraps put to good use!

More scraps put to good use!

When I cut out the porthole openings in the 1/4″ African mahogany plywood for the aft stateroom, the ICA-coated wood looked so nice and the scraps were big enough that I hung onto them. They just happened to be the right dimensions for the toilet paper storage inside the throne side cabinet.

Line up the pencil mark with the edge of my Eureka Zone circular saw track

Line up the pencil mark with the edge of my Eureka Zone circular saw track

These track saws are really cool. They work like a panel saw in that the panel doesn’t move, only the saw does, but they’re lightweight, portable, and extremely accurate. The saw will cut right to the edge of the plastic track, so as long as my eyes hold up I can set it to cut on either edge of the pencil line or straight through the middle of it.

Cut off right on the mark

Next, I routed a slot in the 1/2" mahogany ply base of the cabinet interior

Next, I routed a slot in the 1/2″ mahogany ply base of the cabinet interior

This piece of plywood was a scrap, too. Booyah 🙂

Starting to feel like a cabinetmaker

Varnish the 1/2" mahogany ply base panel

I varnished the visible portion of the 1/2″ mahogany ply base panel

The whole time I was cutting these panels, I had an idea of how the panels would all fit together, and how the back panels (which I’ll make later) would eventually fit inside the cabinet and seal up the space. But as more of the top, side, and bottom pieces got done, I realized I probably shouldn’t have used the 1/4″ ply for the sides and top. There need to be slots in each of those panels, too–to match the bottom slot–so the back panels have something to slide into and form a seal.

Hmmm…there’s more to this cabinetmaking thing than I guessed. After scratching my head over that one for a bit, I ran a couple of solid mahogany pieces from some old cleats through my ShopSmith table saw and made some parts that should work.

So I ripped off a couple of solid mahogany pieces from some old cleats more scraps!)

More scraps put to good use

And epoxied them to the back side of the 1/4" mahogany panels

New “slots” epoxied to the back side of the 1/4″ mahogany panels

The back of the cabinet interior will be made of two panels that slide home into those slots on either side and the bottom. A solid stock trim piece will seal the joint between the two panels.

More varnish on the 1/2" interior base panel

More varnish on the 1/2″ interior base panel

Then insulate the inside of the side cabinet carcass before calling it a day

Then insulate the inside of the side cabinet carcass before calling it a day

Same as before, I cut the Buffalo Batt (r3) insulation to fit, then wet out the inner surfaces of the cabinet with epoxy and apply the batts. I use scraps of wood, gravity, and clamps to lightly hold the insulation in place while the epoxy cures overnight. The processes I’m using for the interior panels–coating all of the backsides instead of just leaving them bare, gluing and screwing instead of just screwing, and especially insulating the back of each panel–takes a lot more time than just cutting panels and screwing everything together. Sometimes it’s frustratingly slow, but in the end I think we’ll be glad I took the time to do it this way. With wet varnish and epoxy everywhere, that’s a wrap for today.

Next up on our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: New Toys Tools and Fuel Inlet Pipes