I am on the cusp of installing the interior trim and in order to plan ahead I spent a little time today learning how to cut a wide cove for the corner pieces. I have read about this technique in a couple of books but today was the first time I tried it. I was a little intimidated but it turned out to be very simple. I used scrap white pine to practice. I ripped the pine from an old off cut from a Lowe's 2x4 (they must have the crappiest stud pine in the country). I cut it down to about 2' long and 1 1/2" x 1 1/2". Then, I marked the edges so there would be enough remaining of the outside corners to smoothly abut the horizontal trim that fits the bottom and top edge of the cabin sides and ties into the corner trim. I then made a 45 degree cut removing one edge from side to side to eliminate one old corner edge which provided a flat surface. Then, I clamped a straight edge to the surface of the table saw (I used my home made tapering jig as the straight edge). I set it at a random angle (this is the tricky part). I set the fence so that the center of the wood was lined up over the center (tallest) part of the saw blade. The less of an angle the narrower and the deeper the cove. The wider the angle, the wider and shallower the cove. Then, I fired up the saw and gently pushed the pine along the fence and over the blade--the wood is being push over the blade at an angle. I set the blade very shallow (maybe 1/8"). I checked to make sure the cove was centered and made a small adjustment to the fence to precisely line it up on the center of the wood. Then, I made a series of passes until the cove was the width and depth I wanted to achieve. Last, I trimmed the end and took it up to the boat to see how it looked. Pretty neat . . . and not difficult. I think I will add some feather boards to better hold the mahogany in place when I shape it for the real McCoy. The machining marks left in the cove by the table saw were not bad, but the cove would need to be cleaned up with abrasive paper and preferably a foam sanding block cut to the shape of the cove itself.
The trick will be figuring out how all the trim will come together, i.e. will physically connect. This is the most important part of trim work--be it in a boat or in your home. All things considered equal, in my opinion, the trim is what really makes final product look professional . . . or amateurish. This will be a little tricky and I have some thinking to do about what will work best. I could very easily make this too complicated. There is an art to making something look elegant and simple at the same time . . . I am still very much learning how to develop that skill.
I spent the last couple of days working through options for cabin trim. I looked at some wood boats on line, which I sometimes do when I need ideas, as well as through a collection of books I have. Many of the boats have the same kind of thin 2" wide trim with miter joints that basically follow the outside edge of the bulkheads. I did not like the way it looked but could not find what I wanted. So, I cut some pieces to see what it would looked like in the Far Reach and I swear she fairly groaned. I thought they looked terrible. It looked like what it was . . . trim to hide the joint between the bulkhead and the cabin side. Finally, I found some pictures of a Cherubini 44. Their approach seem to me to make the trim look structural. I liked it best of what I had seen over the last two days. So, I cut a mock up from some 2x4 scrap and milled it down to 5/8" thick. I think it looks pretty good--substantial but not over powering. Symbolic of a hanging knee. It'll look great in mahogany.
I also applied a third coat of varnish to the mahogany companionway trim which is disassembled for varnishing. The teak trim looks fine with two coats it needs before installation.
The pine mock up looks pretty good to my eye. Ther will be a beam across the top that I will add later.
After reinstalling the companionway trim I went to work on the interior trim. I used African Mahogany for the faux "knees" that will function as trim between the bulkheads and the sides of the cabin trunk. I made a template from 1/2" plywood so they would have the same geometry regardless the length as it changes from the aft end to the forward end of the boat. They won't seem so prominent once they are varnished as they will blend in with the rest of the interior. This was peasant work even though it was quite hot today. I also installed a single piece of horizontal trim, in the head, that runs between the two "knees". I rounded over the top and bottom edges but "fluted" the ends to provide a more elegant transition between the two trim pieces.
Visually, faux knees will not work there. I thought about just going with some rectangular trim but thought I would have a crack at the cove trim. It will be tricky to install as there is only 1/2" ply covering the cabin sides. Regardless, it was not a complicated project. I used a nadjustable bevel to find the angle where the forward and side of the cabin sides meet--80 degrees. Next, I milled some glued up 8/4 mahogany to 1 3/4 x 1 3/4". I then cut a 7 1/2" bevel on each side to match the inside corner of the cabin top. Then, I ripped one corner off leaving about 3/4" of a square face on each side plus the wide flat face for the cove. I rigged up a temporary fence at an angle to the table saw blade. I ran the mahogany over the blade raising it about 1/8" for each pass. Satisfied, I cut the compound bevel necessary to get a good tight fit against the cabin overhead. Next, I used contact cement to stick some 80 grit paper to the cove. Then I worked a piece of blue board over the sand paper essentially milling the blue board to mirror image the concave cove. I removed the sandpaper and cleaned up the contact cement residue on the mahogany with some acetone. Then, I wrapped the sandpaper around the blue board sanding block and sanded the cove till it was perfectly smooth. I then set the cove aside till it is time to install the trim in the forward cabin.
I spent part of the day working on shop equipment--I had to replace the casters on my jointer base, etc so I did not get much accomplished. However, I did find some time to make a practice scarf with some scrap African Mahogany on the new jig. I used Tightbond glue and left it clamped about 5 hours. The scarf line is tight and hard to see. There are some peculiarities and there is a learning curve but I am pleased with the initial result. The stock has to be dead straight in the jig. Also, the stock needs to be at least 30" long for a 1" tall piece as you have to have room for the sliding base to move back and not hit the clamps. I think scarfing before final milling will produce the best results. I'll post more info on it as my skill improves. Click here and scroll down for more info on the scarfing jig.
The vertical line of the scarf is hard to see.
This is the angled scarf line. It's pretty tight and is hard to see as well.
Yesterday I made my first scarf that I will use on the boat. It went well. I was pleased with the results. I needed a piece of trim about 11 1/2' long and the longest piece I had on hand was 11'. I am still experimenting but I think I am getting the hang of it. The photo album below depicts the steps minus the gluing and clamping which I forgot to capture with a photo. I used Tightbond III for the adhesive. After unclamping I milled the wood to the final width and thickness and when I did the scarf lines pretty much disappeared unless you really looked hard. This is a nice skill to have.
Update: I added some photos of clamping/gluing the scarf together.
As soon I milled the trim to the final width and thickness, I proceeded to install it in the boat. Because the trim will be "captured" on both ends by the fixed "knees," fitting the trim requires patience and very detailed measuring. I installed one of the faux knees then measure to the opposite bulkhead to know how long the trim needed to be. I used a small cut- off with similar dimensions as the trim as my template. I measured the two angle, vertical and horizontal, with a small sliding bevel gauge then determine the angle on my protractor. I transferred the lines from the bevel gauge to the template and wrote the angles on the template itself so I had less of a change of screwing it up. Then, I cut the compound bevel on my Dewalt chop saw. I checked the template against the knee and adjust the angles and recut if necessary, otherwise I then cut the actual trim with the same angles I used on the template. I clamp the trim in place then lay the opposite knee on the trim and draw the lines to cut. I confirm the angles with the bevel gauge, I install the second knee, and and then deliberately sneak up on the final cut making 3 or four cuts before I have the final fit. There maybe other ways to do it but this has worked well for me.
With the trim clamped in place I used a pencile to mark where the fasteners are to be installed. I use a calculator to get the exact spacing I want and I try to be precise. No swagging otherwise the wood plugs will look haphazard. I use two bits to drill the holes. A countersink to drill the first hole then chase it with a fatter bit in the outside wood (in this case the trim piece itself) so the screw will "pull" the trim tight to the cabin side. I finish up the cabin trim, then remove it and apply two to three coats to the back sides, then reinstall, plug, and apply more varnish.
Next, I installed the upper cabin side trim on the port side of the saloon. It was not terribly difficult. What I was most pleased about is the outboard edge of the overhead panels was straight--I spent a lot of time shimming and otherwise making the overhead cleats fair when I installed them last year. I have not done the starboard side yet as I have to decide if I want a single piece that is 13'6" long. There may be a way to align them and hide the joint with one of the overhead beams--and that may be a more practical solution. The starboard side only has a partial bulkhead forward of the saloon until the forward cabin. So, the upper trim is about 2 1/2' longer than the port side. Also, there is a decreasing amount of room between the outboard edge of the overhead panels and the top of the portlight as you move forward in the boat. In my mind, that complicates the solution. I'll decide which option tomorrow.
The real work today was installing the lower trim in the forward cabin. I found this to be a pretty difficult project since there were so many angles going so many different directions. Installing the corner pieces was a real stretch for my woodworking skills but I am pleased with the results and I am glad I went this direction.
This specific project got more complicated as it went forward due to the required scarfs, curves, and arches. The two long "rails," above and below the portlights, on the starboard side required 12:1 scarfs which were a new skill to me. I keep wondering how long one can have vertical learning curve, but there seems to be no end in sight. We will remove all the trim and then apply a couple of coats of varnish to it then reinstall. Plugging the countersinks will be next, followed by more wood plugs. I am pleased with how the trim has turned out so far. I think it is elegant and simple at the same time. The Far Reach is starting to come together.
There are a lot of angles going on here! After scribing the curves I cut them out with a jig saw then finished them up with a spoke-shave, low angle block plane, and a long board.
Both the starboard side rails had to be scarfed. I am pleased with how they turned out.
As the cabin top runs forward there is less and less room for trim between the outer edge of the overhead panels and the top of the portlight flanges. There is little room I did not know how to trim it out. I thought about it for a day or so while working on the rest of the trim. It occurred to me that I might be able to keep the same trim plan but recess it around the portlights. I had a leftover template from way back when I installed the cabin sides--probably two years ago. Gayle does not always buy into my argument for holding on to all this stuff as "I might need it one day." Hahahaha. Well, this time I was a genius for holding on to that template! I used it as a guide for scribing the the lines recessing the trim. Surprisingly, it was not very difficult. I think it looks pretty good as it allowed me to keep the same basic trim design all the way through the boat which I think looks better than switching it around inconsistently.
3 July 13
For the last week or so I have been working exclusively on interior trim. The weather has been hot with a lot of rain for the past week so the humidity is very high right now.
Today's work was focused on installing the interior trim around the deck hatches. I cut the vertical pieces from some 8/4 mahogany. I cut a piece off about 24" long x 12" wide and ripped that into 3" wide pieces. Then I resawed them on the table saw about 1/2" thick and cleaned them up on the planer. I decided to cut miters vice a simple butt joint to fit them into the opening under the hatch. They seem to me more secure this way and I think it looks a little better since the bottom edge will be visible. Next, I needed to consider how to trim in the vertical pieces. I am exploring two options. The first is to cut curves in thick pieces and match them to the camber of the overhead. The second is to install simple battens like the rest of the overhead trim. The latter is simpler I think but I thought I would try the former fist. The main reason is need to install 'thwartship overhead battens that will connect to the fore and aft hatch trim. If they are the same thickness I am concerned the edges won't match perfectly and that make look sloppy. If I make the hatch trim a little thicker then it will create a "reveal" which makes the joinery look cleaner. If I don't like the result it will be fairly easy to switch to "batten" trim around the vertical pieces.
I originally planned to install laminated beams. I built a jig and laminated a test beam, about 1 1/2" wide and an inch thick. I used four strips of 1/4" pine. It turned out nice but there was a little spring back. I think I could correct it with some minor tweaking. However, the more I thought about it the more it seemed like I was making this harder than it needed to be . . . installing laminated beams against an already installed and fixed in place overhead was going to be very difficult.
I decided to experiment with using 3/8" thick mahogany "battens" that are "sprung" into place. It was a little tricky because as you tighten down on the screws the batten is compressed a little more than when you determine the length by measuring and thus the ends withdraw leaving gaps at the outboard ends. But, I pretty quickly figured out the technique. Once I selected where the batten was to be installed, I used a tailor's cloth measuring tape along the underside of the overhead to determine the length of the batten. Then, I cut the batten long to allow for the bevels on each end (the side of the batten against the overhead panels is shorter than the side that faces the cabin sole) and some extra "just-in-case" length. Next, I used a small sliding bevel gauge to determine the two angles necessary to make the proper bevel cuts on the chop saw. The first is to match the inward horizontal slant of the cabin top from outboard towards the centerline. The second angle is the vertical slant of the cabin top from the inboard edge of the side deck up to the outboard edge of the cabin top. I transferred the lines to the battens as well as the angles in degrees. I took the batten to the chop saw, cut the compound bevels, made a few trips back and forth to sneak up on the cut and then left it a little long to allow for contraction as I tightened the screws down snug. I used number 8, bronze oval head screws. They look very good . . . better than I thought they wood. The outboard joints are tight. Not installing wood plugs means I can remove the battens without drilling out the plugs. Also, I can apply all the varnish (6-7 coats) in the shop vice in the boat.
The trim is going in nicely. I used 3/8" thick mahogany battens instead of laminated deck beams.
I am not 100 percent happy with the outboard bulkhead trim. The issue is I installed the ash ceiling strips so tight that the ends can't be moved. They don't describe a perfect arc. That meant that I either had to disassemble and reinstall all the ash trim (not likely at this point) or scribe to fit and change it later if I am unhappy with it. I decided to scribe to fit. Not a difficult project. I cut a piece of 1/8" ply about 3" wide and as long as the vertical height between the bunks and the overhead side deck panels. Then, I scribed the arc, cut it out with a jig saw, sanded it smooth, test fit it, interfered the line to 1/2" mahogany, trimmed with the jig saw, used spoke shave, block plane, and long board to clean it up and checked it for fit. I used a router to round over the inboard edge. I'll install them with bronze oval head screws so they can be easily removed if necessary. Final fit will occur after I install the battens covering the panels joints under the side decks.
Today I completed the installation of the interior cabin top trim. I think the battens look great. The trim for both hatches is complete as well. I have s few wood plugs to install and all of the trim will eventually be removed for varnishing. I put a light radius on the battens--about 1/8". I will router the outboard edge of the deck hatch trim but it will be a little more agressive.
I have already begun installing the trim under the side decks and hope to have it complete in a few days. I need to add some trim to the ash ceiling and on the exposed bottom edge of the plywood cabin sides as well.
There is still a lot to do but the interior appears to be transforming right in front of my eyes . . . of course that is the way it always is with trim, in a house or a boat.
15 July 13
Work continues on the trim. I have completed about 90 percent of the trim under the side deck--the cabin top trim is complete. Currently, I am working on the trim under the foredeck. It's slow going just because there are a lot of angles and it's back and forth to the chop saw and up and down the ladder. I probably should move the saw up onto the boat.
Anyway, the next project is to paint the underside of the cockpit locker hatch lids and the underside of the seahood and the sliding companionway hatch. I removed them today and wiped them down with some Interlux 202. Tomorrow I will sand and with some luck I'll get a coat of paint applied.
When the last major piece of trim is installed we will remove it and spend a week or so varnishing and reinstalling it. The Far Reach looks great. Soon, I will start on the bulwarks.
For the past two weeks we have been all about varnish work . . . as in work. We removed all the trim we installed early in July (80 pieces) and applied seven coats of varnish. We used our garage. I strung a larger overhead plastic barrier cloth over the work area to catch falling dust in the garage. Gayle and I sanded together then I went to the boat and she varnished. She is getting pretty good at it. I worked on the propane locker and other small chores. I installed wood plugs in the interior trim along the top and bottom of the cabin-sides. I also installed wood plugs in the trim for the deck hatches. When the trim we removed was varnished, it was time to tape off the interior trim and start the laborious process of sanding and applying six to seven coats of varnish. It's hot, tedious, and boring work inside the boat. We started with 120 to sand down the wood plugs after I trimmed them short with a chisel. Then we sanded with 180 and applied the first coat of Epifanes High Gloss varnish, thinned 50 percent with mineral spirits. Next we sanded with 220 and thinned the second coat 25 percent. We moved up to 320 sand paper and applied straight varnish. For exterior teak (the companionway trim) we sand with 150 through the whole process. Exterior varnish has a tough life and the more aggressive grit provides more "tooth" for the varnish to grab onto and make it a little more durable. Some people claim you can see the scratches but I can't see them. It's looks perfect to my eye.
I thought we would apply the last coat today, but Gayle had business to attend to so I sanded by myself and it took over four hours. The, I had to vacuum and perform a mineral spirits wipe down. By then, I was soaked in sweat and was just too wore out to varnish. With this being perhaps the last coat, I wanted to be alert and rested so I would do a good job. I took my son to the local swimming pool and marveled his swimming skills and how much he has grown. Life is good even if the boat remains in the backyard.
With luck, tomorrow will be the last coat.
I mostly completed the installation of the recently varnished trim. I decided it will look a little cleaner if I use #10 1 1/4" bronze round head screws for the vertical trim that covers the outboard edge of the bulkheads. I have oval heads but I did not pre drill the holes before we varnished these specific pieces and the margin of error when drilling the chamfer for the oval head screw is too small . . . in other words I'd probably tear up the varnish around the screw head. A round head screw makes it much easier. Other than that, the trim is in. The pictures to the right do not do justice. There is too much glare and reflection from the flash. I'll shoot some more pictures when we have better natural light.
Overhead trim in the forward compartment.
Overhead trim in the saloon.
I spent a few hours finishing up the trim to hide the scupper hose that drains the starboard side cockpit seat to the cockpit footwell. It's an awkward hose to deal with as it is difficult to hide without interfering with the limited room associated with the quarter berth while also leaving enough room for the bilge pump handle. The angular shape draws some attention but by incorporating mahogany staving, consistent with the rest of the interior trim, it mostly blends in with its surrounding. I was able to start working on the cleats that will support the teak seat in the sitz tub but personal business precluding further work today.
I installed some additional trim around the boat. I finished off the trim in the head compartment. I also trimmed in the rope locker and chain locker in the forepeak. I used teak for the head as all the trim there is teak since it will stand up so well to water. The trim in the forepeak is walnut which matches all the trim throughout the boat. I also installed a couple of pieces of trim in the galley area as well as along the main bulkhead at the forward end of the saloon.