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

The scorching hot, humid summer continues making it difficult to work on the cabinetry in the V-berth, but I’m making progress nonetheless. I now have the “desk-like structure” roughed out. I also used my Harbor Freight auto darkening welding helmet to take pix of the eclipse that happened yesterday. It was only 81% covered, but still it was kind of cool.

Mid-Atlantic eclipse, 2017

The V-berth concept

Time to make a “desk-like structure”

Sticks and a hot glue gun help make the pattern

The V-berth cabinetry has been particularly challenging, what with all of the curves and angles. I’ve had good results from using small sticks and a hot glue gun to capture the curves and angles and transfer them onto mahogany plywood.

Clamps hold panels in place

Clamping to framing squares helps keep everything square

With the panels dry-fitted in place, I marked off where to cut the vertical wall panel.

Bed foundation vertical wall panel is bevel cut to size



Make sure the vertical wall panel is square

Mahogany solid stock will back up the joint

Next, I transferred the stick template to mahogany plywood

Bevel cut and a near-perfect fit!

If anybody noticed the runs in the ICA clear coat on the curvy wall panel, that’s just the base coat. It will all get sanded smooth with 320 grit before the entire room is sprayed with ICA top coat.

Cut off the front edge

EZ-One track saw bridge guides the router for cutting edge rabbets

I also cut matching rabbets in the two vertical panels for the “desk-like structure”.

Very nice rabbet joint

The other side

Good lookin’ “desk-like structure”

The “desk-like structure” base protrudes just enough to give a step up for climbing into bed

It feels really good to have the concept turn out as well as it appears to be going. As I’ve been cutting all of these panels, I’ve been rethinking my plan for air conditioning. I initially thought I’d put a small self-contained unit up high on the shelf in the V-berth closet. But the more I think about it, it makes more sense to install it inside the “desk-like structure.” I’ve also been thinking about going with a chilled water system rather than self-contained. It’s a lot more money, but there are some benefits, too. All of this air conditioning stuff has also gotten me thinking about how to provide access behind major panels up here. I think the ideas I’ve come up with will work out OK. Time will tell.

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

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

The V-berth is coming along pretty well, though like everything else it’s taking more time than I’d like. The curvy scraps of the 1/4″ ribbon-striped mahogany I used for the V-berth walls are just the right size for topping the panels that attach the bed foundation to the side walls.

Putting leftover scraps to good use

Scraps will make a nice storage shelf one day

Straight cuts are the easy ones

Try making a perfectly straight diagonal cut on a curvy piece of plywood using a regular table or circular saw! This Eureka Zone track saw table really makes these cuts a breeze.

Next, mark off the panel

I marked the base panel so the mahogany panel would fit the wall curvature even better

+1/16″ here, + 1/8″ there

Clamp the panels together and break out the jigsaw

Take a deep breath and start making the cut.

Turned out pretty good!


Good fit!

The brown panel that’s vertically oriented will be padded and covered with upholstery that matches the headliner. Everything else will be ribbon-stripe mahogany.

The port side is next

These panels have been ready to install for more than a year

I need to build the “desk-like structure” in the concept drawings so I know where to cut the brown vertically oriented panel on the port side. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Paint Repair

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

The V-berth is coming along pretty well. I’ve pretty much got the final shape of the cabinetry worked out and the major panels surrounding the bed foundation are rough cut and fitted. Next I need to make and install a bunch of 1″ x 1″ mahogany cleats to tie it all together, then cut the top panels that will tie the bed foundation to the curvy mahogany upper walls. There are lots of compound curves going on up here in the V-berth, which really complicates the joinery for a rookie like me.

Remove the wing panels and start installing cleats

On the right side of the above picture, you can see the first of several mahogany cleats that the upright panels will attach to. That one runs from the closet wall to the front of the bed foundation. Only a couple of miter cuts, so those are easy.

New Makita angle drill helps in tight spots

I generally like Makita power tools. My track saw is a Makita, and I’m a big fan of their 18v cordless drills. This angle drill is only 12v, but it packs plenty of oomph. What I didn’t realize when I bought it is that there’s no clutch like on the bigger 18v cordless models. For drilling that’s fine, but it’s not as good as a bit driver.

Upper cleats are a bit more complicated

There’s Miter Cut No. 1, which is easy

The compound miters are the tricky ones

Compound miter cuts along all three axes

Like that!

I wrote the angles for each cut on the cleat. Once I got all of the cleats cut, I went back and cut the top panels using the same angles.

I find the metric system better for doing cabinetry

I took measurements from the top of the upright panel to the curvy mahogany upper wall every 10cm. Then I marked off those measurements on the top panel. Getting the curvature right is really hard, but I like the cleaner look of a well-fitted panel to joinery that’s covered by moldings. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but this isn’t one of those cases. It just takes time…measure twice, cut once.

Nice fit!

More cleats for the front-most top panel

Track saw extrusion lets me make straight angled cuts even with my beater Skilsaw

Two top panels down, one to go!

Cleats installed and port-side upper panel drilled and counterbored

Once I get this all built-out, I’ll disassemble the whole thing, coat the pretty mahogany panels with ICA base coat clear, seal the panel edges, insulate the backsides, and glue and screw it all together. I’ve used this approach everywhere else. It’s time consuming, but I think it will make the boat much more durable and comfortable in the long run.

I also have been spending a bit of time thinking about mechanical/electrical stuff. For example, I need to plumb ducting, electric, and water lines for the air conditioning in the V-berth. As the concept gets turned into reality, I’m finding that some of my original ideas for AC ducting won’t work. So I’m adjusting plans on the fly. The same is true for electrical (both 12vdc and 120vac), and relatively trivial things like radio and speaker placement. Now’s the time to cut holes and install wires. I also have a Webasto 12v diesel boiler and I’d like to use it for hydronic heat…which means even more forethought is needed so I don’t paint myself into any corners.

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

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

With the V-berth bed foundation and closet pretty much done, next I cut and fitted the panels that go around the V and tie the bed foundation to the curvy side walls.

Recycling the original V-berth bed foundation panels

I’ve had the two original V-berth bed foundation panels stored in my shed since we disassembled the Roamer interior in 2008. I figured the 1/2″ plywood would come in handy somewhere, and it turns out they’re the perfect size for two panels that will connect the current bed foundation to the side walls.

First, I used my track saw to square up the panels

Measure twice, cut once

Looking good!

Next I cut the port-side panel

I use a hot glue gun and sticks to make patterns of complex areas

Trace the pattern shape to the new plywood and cut


I used a router to remove some material where the boat framing protruded a bit

Cutting bevels on the forward and aft edges

My EZ-One track saw table is really handy for guiding my router and beater Skilsaw for beveled cuts. I leave out the anti-chip inserts, bring the bridge down to clamp the panel in place, and just run the tool along the perfectly straight aluminum extrusion.

This is looking pretty good!

Cutting the port panel to size

Rough cut but looking good!

My plan is to pad and upholster these three panels with the Whisper Walls ostrich (off white) material I’ll use for the headliner. The panels that will attach the top of these panels to the mahogany side walls will be topped with the same ribbon-striped mahogany.

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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Still More On the V-berth Closet

It’s still hot as can be in the tent, but I’m making good progress on the V-berth cabinetry.

Harbor Freight featherboard is worth the price: $7

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a pro. When I started this refit, I had a fairly garden-variety set of mechanic’s tools, a really awful Craftsman jigsaw, and a Skilsaw circular saw. Since then, I’ve acquired a bunch of new tools, but when it came to woodworking mostly I was only working with plywood panels. My EZ-One track saw table has been a very good investment and it’s great for breaking down plywood, but recently I acquired a Craftsman table saw since it was clear I’d need it to make moldings. I have a Shopsmith table saw, but the table is too small and for angled cuts it wasn’t quite enough. Since I’ve been using the table saw, I have been very wary of getting my fingers in the blade. I’d heard about featherboards and decided to order one when I was stocking up recently on chip brushes, acid shop brushes, and nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight. I’m happy to report that this is a terrific upgrade to the table saw. I think I’ll order more of them for vertical positioning, too, before and after the cut.

Push stick + featherboard = nice, consistent cuts with greater safety

V-berth closet panel needs reinforcement

Mahogany cleat is recycled from the original toe rail

Utility access at the back of the closet

I want to be able to access all of the wiring, so I made a little hatch here.

Hatch panel in place

Framing out the closet back panel

A vertical mahogany panel at the back of the closet will be held in place with some visible screws. Once that panel comes off, the hatch panel comes out with a twist and a tug.

Like magic!

More framing

I plan to put a self-contained 6kBTU marine air conditioning unit on a shelf at the top of the closet. The air intake will be through the closet wall.

Back wall framing is done…time for varnish

After sanding all surfaces with 220 grit, I blew off the panels and broke out the varnish brush.

I thought I’d try a new (to me) kind of varnish inside the closet

That does not look like “gloss”

I thought maybe it wasn’t glossy because it was only the first coat. So I sanded with 220 again and applied another coat.

Funky Varathane goes on milky

I don’t like this stuff. Low odor and easy, soap and water cleanup are nice, but this stuff just doesn’t flow out like regular varnish.

Sanded and ready for another coat

Next day…this definitely isn’t “gloss”

It’s more like semi-gloss

The Varithane product doesn’t flow at all. It dries clear, which is nice, but I think I’ll just stick with spar varnish for closet and drawer interiors when I’m not having the painter spray ICA.

The solid mahogany door openings turned out OK

I apply varnish before final assembly because that allows me to wipe up any epoxy without staining the wood.

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

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

With three of the four V-berth closet door opening pieces fitted, now I know where the leading edge of the plywood panel needs to be. Time to cut the panel.

First, make a template of the V-berth head wall angle

I used a hot glue gun to hold sticks together so I can replicate the angle Mr. Good-but-slow built into the V-berth wall. Then I moved the template to the other side of the cabinet and capture the angles of the overhead attachment point and curvy V-berth walls.

Corner bracing holds the stick template’s shape

1/2″ mahogany plywood cut to the template shape

That’s one more sheet of plywood pulled from the stack! When the stack is gone, the project should be over!

Not bad!

Surprisingly nice fit to the curvy wall panel

Need to adjust a bit to close this gap

I’ll attach a 1 x 1 mahogany cleat along the back side as an attachment point

Next, I fitted the upper closet door opening piece

Need to cut miters on both pieces


Next I need to cut the framing for the back wall of the closet, then take it all apart and varnish everything in preparation for epoxying it all together.

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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Wrapping Up the V-berth Bed Foundation

It’s been brutally hot recently, but I’m still making fair progress in the V-berth. The bed foundation frames are done, so the next step is to cut and fit the plywood the mattress will lie on. That same plywood will also provide the base for the cabinetry that ties the foundation to the curvy V-berth side walls. But when it’s 89°F outside with 50% humidity and 123° inside the tent, it takes longer to complete every step.

Rough fit of the port bed foundation

I made the port panel out of a half-sheet that was left over from years ago when I modified the bow seat. It roughly fits the bed foundation, but the original aluminum attachment points aren’t level. The port side is higher than the starboard, so I had to make some room on the under side of the panel so it would lie flat on the foundation frames.

Routed out a notch to fit the aluminum hull framing

As I was routing the panel, I was surprised at the quality of the plywood top veneer.

Ugly Douglas fir

I’m not a professional woodworker, and I don’t have years of experience working with plywood, but the top veneer on this marine grade Douglas fir ply is really poor quality. It looks like the wooden veneer itself has been coming apart. I’ll be epoxy sealing the whole thing and insulating the underside, and the epoxy should bind all of these fibers back together. But if anybody knows what causes this sort of thing, please post a comment.

New plywood panel looks different

I ran out of 1/2″ marine grade Doug fir plywood, so I went to the local lumber supplier and got another sheet. The glue, veneer thickness, and veneer count are all consistent with other marine ply I’ve seen. But the wood sure looks different. On the up-side, the surface veneer looks much better than on the older panel.

I was initially planning to just use two panels for the mattress foundation, but I decided to make a removable hatch for access to the shore power isolation transformer. It’s unlikely I’ll ever need to access it, but making a hatch now is easier than having to cut one after everything is assembled and done.

Looking good!

In case anybody is wondering…yes, as soon as the three panels were fitted, I laid down on it to check it out. LOL

There’s plenty of room lengthwise for a person up to 6′ tall or so, but if there’s a significant other she better be petite! Since this will primarily be used as an office/computer room, I’m more interested in a generous desk than a big bed.

Final touch

After drilling and countersinking all of the screw holes, I figured I might as well leave a clue about what’s under the hatch. My freehand router writing skills are about the same as the rest of the stuff I do: not perfect, but not too bad either

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