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: 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: 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: Wrapping Up the V-berth Bed Foundation Frames

Through yet another brutally hot summer in Tent Model XXX, I’m making fairly good progress on the V-berth bed foundation.

Midway framing will support the side cabinet top

I’ll make one more frame to support the back edge of the cabinet top panel.

Center beam needs some trimming

The length is just a bit too long, and it can’t pivot into place with square corners.

Angled cuts on the end will allow the center beam to pivot into place


That’s the last of the bed foundation frame pieces. Everything fits very nicely. Next I disassembled all of the frames, drilled pocket screw holes, and got ready to glue and screw it together permanently.

Pocket screws will hold each of the frames in place while the epoxy cures

That little Kreg pocket hole jig has paid for itself many times over.

Next, I insulated the top of the center cabinet

The sides, bottom, top, and back of each cabinet box are insulated with Buffalo Batt nonwoven fabric, which provides 3R insulation value and should eliminate condensation and otherwise keep heated or cooled air inside the boat. Insulating the back of every panel that faces the hull envelope adds a lot of time to the process, but I think it will be worth it in the end.


With sticky epoxy everywhere and 115°F temps in the salon (but only 85° outside), I decided to bail out at this point. I’m ready to cut the marine plywood panels that the mattress will rest on, which will also be the base for the side cabinetry that will tie the bed foundation to those beautiful and very difficult to install mahogany V-berth side walls.

The concept is coming together! Note: Sorry about the dead pix at the linked concept article. Unfortunately, I saved the pictures in some early articles on this blog on Photobucket, which has apparently updated it’s user policies to the point that pictures are no longer viewable unless visitors agree to open their computers up to a bunch of 3rd party pop-up ads. So the pix on the linked page are currently not loading. I’m working on downloading all of the pix and saving them at WordPress (which I think I’d like to cut ties to, as well, since they do the pop-up ads, too). Anyway, the pix should be available shortly.

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

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

With the V-berth cabinet boxes varnished and glued up, the next steps were to insulate them with Buffalo Batt non-woven fabric and get them installed. This being a metal boat, I’ve spray foamed the hull to keep outside temps from infringing too much inside. But I also put this hydrophobic Buffalo Batt insulation on the outside of every panel that faces the hull. The combination of spray foam + r3 insulation on the backside of each panel should make the living spaces much more comfortable year-round. It’ll also virtually eliminate condensation inside of cabinets and closets, which can be a big problem on fiberglass and metal boats.

A freshly opened roll of Buffalo Batt

Cut the insulation to fit

It takes a while for the Buffalo Batt to unravel and fluff up to its full 1-1/2″ thickness. But it’s sooo much easier to work with than, say, fiberglass or mineral wool. The nasty part is sealing up the back of each panel with sticky epoxy, then pressing an clamping the pieces in place without touching the glue.


Next day, the epoxy has cured

The side cabinet is ready to install, too

I’ve been using this process of insulating panels then installing them for a while. But this is the first time I’ve worked with large three dimensional objects that have to go into relatively tight spaces. There was a lot of cussing going on while I was wetting out the various attachment points with epoxy, then adding a slathering of epoxy thickened with wood flour and cabosil as the final glue. The cussing stopped while I did the panel gymnastics to get everything in place…I was holding my breath most of the time! But I got everything in and clamped and screwed together.

Final install


Glued, screwed, and clamped

I end up using some crazy combinations of clamps, push sticks, and levers to get the panel joints to close up tightly. Then I went through with alcohol and a bunch of cut up t-shirt material to wipe off the epoxy that squeezes out. It turned out pretty nicely.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: New Toy Tool–Dewalt DW734 Thickness Planer

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: V-berth Cabinetry Storage Boxes

Summer has officially arrived, but for more than a month it’s been miserable in the tent. When it’s a beautiful day outside, it’s hellishly hot and humid in that plastic bubble. Using fans helps how I feel, but epoxy has a very short pot life even when I use the slowest hardener. It’s very frustrating. That said, I’m still making progress in the V-berth.

Time to install the bed foundation

Glued and screwed gussets

Mark the cabinet cut lines and rabbets in the big bed foundation panel

I use aluminum angle to guide the router

The track saw extrusions work well as a router guide, too

I use this handy little plunge saw with only 1/16″ kerf to cut the cabinet opening

Then I finish the corners with a jigsaw

This will make a nice cabinet door

Cut the last rabbets on the back-side of the foundation panel

The panel is ready for installation

But first, I’m going to make the cabinet box and attach it to the panel. I considered doing it after I installed the panel, but I think it’ll be easier if the box is installed first.

The back of the cabinet box

Trimmed here and there to clear the hull framing

After cutting the rest of the cabinet box panels, I took them home and varnished them. I’ve got a bunch of cans of Varathane, lacquer, Minwax polyurethane and Helmsman Spar Varnish I’d like to use up. The inside of these cabinets is a good place for it.

3 coats of Minwax Helmsman Spar Varnish looks pretty good

Dry fit…looks pretty good!

Dry-fit the box…we’re ready for epoxy

Glued and clamped together

The hot temps in the tent make it challenging to glue the box together. The epoxy kicks really fast. First I wet out the rabbets and the matching panel edges with straight epoxy, then I add wood flour to the epoxy and apply it over the wetted out areas. Next, I fit the pieces together and clamp until I get some of the thickened epoxy squeezing out of the joint. Then I wipe down the joint with alcohol to remove any excess epoxy, and it’s on to the next piece until it’s all assembled.

Next day, epoxy the joints and mate the box to the panel

Support the ends of the panel and weigh down the middle

I have one more box to make, then I’ll insulate everything and install the cabinets.

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