Doors for the cockpit lockers

26 Jan

Though I’m sailing it and living aboard I have to confess that my boat still has a few gaping holes. These include two rather large ones in the cockpit for which I’ve only myself to blame, having cut them out many months ago. When my father was here last we finally got started on them.

First we cut the holes out to their final size:

Typically nasty fiberglass work! Will it ever end?

I was lucky to come across a couple teak doors that actually fit the holes fairly well but we still needed to make frames for them. I wasn’t sure ow to do this but was quite excited to finally work with some wood instead of fiberglass.

I’ve been trying to stick with teak for as much of my exterior wood as possible but I can’t actually afford to buy it so as usual we were working with scraps. The frames took quite a bit more wood than I was expecting and we ended up using the last of the teak from the original coamings, cutting and piecing it back together like a puzzle.

Waste not want not. My mom would be so proud!

With our stock glued up we took it to the chop saw for the first cuts. To make things simpler we used 45-degree cuts and butt joints – not the strongest way of doing things but ok for a frame that will be well-fastened.

Checking the first piece against a door
Dry-fitting the first frame

After making the initial cuts we checked our fit to the doors, aiming for about 1/8″ of play to leave room for varnish, a seal, and a bit of adjustment. Luckily we got it right the first time as there was not enough material for mistakes!

With raw stock cut we were onto the process of rebating. Using a table saw we cut rebates on the front and back of each piece so that the doors would sit flush and the frames would not protrude too much from the fiberglass.

We used the door to adjust saw depth so that it would sit flush on the frame

First we made a cut the vertical depth that we wanted the rebate (tested on some scrap first) and then we rotated the piece made a second cut for horizontal depth. The rebate on the outward face was the same for both frames as the doors happened to be the same thickness.

Gluing the pieces up was so simple that we mostly forgot to take photos. We mixed a batch of thickened epoxy and dabbed a bit on each before pulling them together with a temporary screw.

Note the rebates cut the same depth in each piece. This will be the outside edge.

With the frames in their final shape we cut the second and final rebate. This shaped the frames so that they would sit snugly in the fiberglass and not protrude too much. Again we did them with the table saw.

The first cut is done, all that remains is to cut out these strips by running each edge through again with the piece stood on end

The second rebates were cut to different widths on each frame in order to make up for the uneven match of my already-cut holes and the already-built doors I had scrounged.

Back out to the boat for another check:

Of course it wasn’t quite right. Some unevenness in the fiberglass meant we needed to do a little chiseling:

But soon we had a great fit!

Won’t that look nice

Then we went back to the shop for the painstaking process of installing the hinges. This bit was so fiddly that we (again) forgot to take any photos but in the end we got the doors to sit flush in the frames. Of course we immediately took them apart again.

After my dad left I reinforced the butt joints a bit by drilling holes and gluing in doweling with epoxy resin (his idea) and then I started varnishing. I’m still on that step, but it’s already sunny and warm again here in New Orleans so as long as Mardi Gras doesn’t derail me too much it shouldn’t be much longer before I have those holes plugged!

This article was syndicated from Safe At Harbour But Meant For The Sea: DIY Sailing with Paul Calder


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