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: Making Solid Mahogany Corners for the V-berth Cabinets

It’s July 4, 2017, and in America that means we’ll be celebrating Brexit 1776, also known as Independence day. Our son came down for the holiday and introduced us to his charming fiance, so this will be a very memorable 4th of July. We’ll take our 1968 Chris Craft Commander 42 up to Three Sisters in Washington, DC, where the Potomac runs clean and clear. We’ll go swimming, grill up some of the missus’ homemade sausages, then head back to the dock to watch the fireworks show tonight. It’ll be hot and steamy here in the nation’s capital, but not nearly as hot or steamy as it is inside Tent Model XXX, where I’m making decent progress on the V-berth joinery.

The V-berth plan

The V-berth reality

There will be a hanging locker (closet) above the small cabinet to the right. I need to make the corners for the closet out of solid mahogany, then I’ll glue and screw mahogany plywood to those corners using the same approach as I did on the aft stateroom walls.

The mahogany stick across the middle will be one corner

I’ve got a lot of 8/4 (~2″) thick mahogany planks stacked under the boat and also a bunch of leftover bits and pieces from the new toe rail. The leftover bits are odd shapes because the toe rail is curved to some degree all along its length. I thought I’d end up using the stick in the pic above as bung fodder, but it turns out to be just the right size to become one of the V-berth corner pieces.

One pass down the table saw removes the curve

A 6′ board will become a couple of Mahogany corner pieces

I use my track saw to true the edges

One end touches the track

You can see the banana in the board.

It’s got ~3/16″ banana in the middle

And good contact with the track at the other end

After truing the boards with the track saw, I ran them through my new Dewalt surface planer.

New planer and table

Those cleaned up pretty nicely!

I think these corners are going to be pretty.

With the lumber dimensioned, next I started shaping it into corners.

First passes at 30°

First time using Shopsmith jointer

I’ve had this jointer attachment for years but never used it. I was considering cutting the cabinet door rabbets with my table saw or maybe a router, but it turns out the Shopsmith jointer cuts them pretty well.

Set the cut depth at 1/8″

1st pass

Bump it up to 1/4″

2nd pass

Maximum depth

3rd and final pass

Repeat the process for both corners

Both of the cabinet corners are roughed out now. The next step will be to use a belt sander to smooth off the 30° and 60° curves. But first, we’re going to goof around at Three Sisters and enjoy America’s Independence Day celebration. I hope y’all have a great one, too!

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


1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Recycling the Original Mahogany Toe Rails

While waiting for my painter’s schedule to synch with mine so we can clear coat the pile of mahogany plywood panels that have been sitting since March 2017, I’ve been working on other stuff. One of the most frustrating things is that I seem to have lost one of the standpipes for the raw water cooling intakes for my Cummins 6CTA engines. I’ve been turning my garage upside down and rooting through the boat and tent but haven’t had any luck finding it. While digging through the mahogany lumber pile, I decided it was time to do something with the original mahogany toe rails. I saved them when we first disassembled the boat so they could be used as patterns for the new toe rails., but that work has been done for a while. Now they’re just taking up space and getting in my way. Time to fire up the saw and make some cleats.

EZ-One track saw will cut a perfectly straight line on the curved mahogany

Line the track up to minimize waste

Trued up edge is ready for the table saw

One section of toe rail repurposed into cleats

Repurposed 50-year old mahogany toe rails

I’ll use these cleats to secure the new wall panels and cabinets as I build out the interior. In fact, I used one of them when I installed the back wall in the laundry closet.

Old “Chris Craft grade” mahogany is still pretty stuff.

Ever seen cracks like this in old toe rails?

Ever wonder how deep the cracks go?

Turns out it’s pretty deep.

Amazingly enough, even with a crack going all the way through the board the mahogany was pretty rock-solid. In other spots, especially around the stanchion bases, where water can pool in the pocket under the base, the wood was punky. That’s why I completely epoxy sealed all of the stanchion base holes in the new toe rail. It’s time consuming doing it this way, but hopefully I’ll never have to deal with rot.

One coat of Zinzer primer/sealer on two edges

Most of the cabinetry I’m doing involves gluing joints with epoxy thickened with wood flour or gluing and screwing. All of those joints will tend to be 90° angles, so I only sealed the two edges of the cleats that won’t be sealed by epoxy. Around the time the primer dried on the cleats, I got a message from my painter: he finally got a break in his schedule and can come over and spray. Time to get the origami spray booth set up again.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Spraying Mahogany Panels with ICA Base Coat Clear