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: Fitting the V-berth Cabinets

With the V-berth walls finally installed, the rest of the cabinetry in the room is coming together pretty quickly.

The aft deck plywood pile shrinks a bit more

Mahogany panels are pre-finished with ICA base and top coat

I had these panels painted with ICA a year or two (or three?) ago. They’ve been awaiting installation for too long.

Bed base panel fits well

The salon plywood stack gets one sheet shorter

The mahogany plywood stack in the salon is my official progress meter. The shorter the stack gets, the closer I am to finishing the refit. I’m very pleased when it gets shorter. Hopefully, that’ll happen at a faster rate from now on.

EZ-One track saw table makes it easy to break down 4×8 sheets

With the EZ-One track saw system, it’s the saw that moves, not the panel. So unlike a conventional table saw, you don’t need a huge amount of space. The track also ensures perfectly straight cuts exactly where you want them. You don’t have to worry about keeping the panel tight up against a fence or kickbacks. It’s a great tool for this kind of work.

Angled cuts are also super easy with the EZ-One

Not a bad fit…needs a bit of trimming

A snip here, a slice there…

Nice and square!

Three panels fit nicely

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

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sanding and Spraying the Top Coat on the Mahogany Panels

The V-berth and aft stateroom mahogany panels are looking very nice. Things sure go faster when my schedule aligns with my Boatamalan* painter. I might actually have the portholes installed soon!

*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. ;-)

Final sanding with 320 grit Abranet

The second round of ICA base clear went on nice and flat, which makes for easy final sanding. But this mahogany has some deep grain that makes it tough to fill it entirely. The strange thing is that the grain is deep on some panels but flat on others, even when the panels were cut from the same sheet of plywood. Nature apparently doesn’t have a robust Quality Control department. ;-)

I sand the faces with the Mirka Ceros sander, then hit the edges with a hand sanding block

The transom cabinetry

Sand it smooth, but don’t go too far

The deep grain I mentioned makes it challenging to get the sanding just right. Don’t go far enough, and the grain makes a surface that’s not perfectly smooth. Go too far, and you can sand through the base coat. Fortunately, I didn’t breach the base coat anywhere.

Sanded just enough, but with some pinhole and grain depressions left behind

Dust fills the pinhole and grain depressions

Full air blast takes a long time to clear the dust

It was taking a long time to blow the dust out of the little depressions that remain. So I used some lint-free microfiber towels to lightly wipe each panel while blowing it with air. That approach worked a lot better, instantly clearing all of the dust from the depressions.

A cluster of little depressions along an edge

Different panel cut from the same plywood

It’s the darndest thing: not a single pinhole or grain depression on the entire panel

Air blast + microfiber cloth = no dust

Perfect conditions…time to spray

ICA semi-matte top coat is very nice

30 minutes after two top coats were applied, it’s dry to the touch

I very carefully moved the panels inside the tent

Finding safe places to put all of these finished panels was a bit of a challenge. I’ll leave them to cure for a week, so I can’t stack them like I did when they were unfinished. I eventually found enough flat spaces on the boat to lay them all out, then carefully stepped off the boat. Next I’ll insulate the back side of all of the panels with Buffalo Batt woven fabric. Then I’ll start installing the panels into their final resting places. But before that, I’ll install the V-berth panels that only got base coated. I’m stoked!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Insulating Mahogany Wall Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Sanding and Spraying the 2nd Coat on the Mahogany Panels

The good news is that I’m finally making progress on getting mahogany plywood clear coated. The bad news is that, realistically, there’s no way I’m going to splash the boat this year. I’m OK with that. Life gets in the way sometimes…gotta just roll with it and keep an eye on the prize.

Start the day sanding

The panels in the pic above are for the laundry, storage, and clothes closets on the port side of the aft stateroom.

Pretty mahogany

More porthole surround panels

I like that Mirka Ceros sander. It’s super light–about the same as an air sander–but uses a DC brushless motor.

Back panels for the V-berth head cabinet

Sanded and wiped down…ready for the second base coat

Slight modification to the filter box

The filter material was being hit directly with the air flow from the extractor fan hose, causing the center of the filter to get coated and clogged up with the thick ICA base coat clear. So I put a piece of scrap 1/4″ luan in as a deflector baffle. Hopefully, the ICA will stick to the inside of the box and disperse out across the face of the filter material now instead of concentrating in the middle.

Time to spray

Next morning…good lookin’ base coat!

Pretty panel

I like that little cabinet panel. Unfortunately, it’ll almost never be seen since it’s the back panel for the toilet paper storage cabinet in the V-berth head.

The painter really flowed out the ICA base coat nicely

I had two loads of mahogany to be base coated. So with the first load done, I sanded the second load and hung the panels in the origami spray booth. The painter came and sprayed at the end of the day. The following morning, the panels were ready to come out of the booth for one more round of sanding with 320 grit.

V-berth wall panels with 8 coats of ICA base coat clear

Very pretty mahogany

Transom cabinet panels look good

All of the panels got four coats of ICA base, followed by sanding with 240 grit to a smooth finish. We just applied four more coats of base, and everything is looking good.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Final Sanding and Spraying the Top Coat on the Mahogany Panels

1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Mahogany Wall Panels to the Paint Shop and Back

After laying out the interior concepts on the aft stateroom floor and rough cutting the 3/4″ mohagany plywood panels to size, I walked all of the panels off the boat and took them to the paint shop for coating with ICA’s clear base coat.

No, that’s not a typo. I’m clear coating the panels before I install them.

By putting a heavy base coat on the panels, I’ll protect the very thin top veneer from damage during install. Even the most incidental contact leaves marks in this new plywood, and the veneers are so thin you can’t always sand away the damage. Clear coating first will also allow me to use epoxy thickened with wood flour to glue the panels in place in addition to conventional fasteners. Without a coating on the veneer, epoxy discolors the mahogany. With a coating on the veneer, any epoxy that lands on the ICA base coat will wipe off with alcohol on a rag. That’s the theory, anyway. Before too long, I’ll definitely be writing an article about how it turns out.

Rough cut mahogany panels loaded into my beater truck

Rough cut mahogany panels loaded into my beater truck

Hanging in the spray booth

Hanging in the spray booth

And back in the beater truck

And back in the beater truck

That ICA base coat is some thick stuff. It’s tough as nails, but also sands really well.

Back into the boat

Back to the boat!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Nice Score On a Dewalt DWS780 Miter Saw