Deck Joinery

We once built a big clipper-bowed cutter, designed by Sam Crocker, and handsome beyond words to describe. It was a painful job from start to finish. The owner had haunted the great yacht yards on City Island, and had arrived at some standards of excellence (mainly in matters of fine teak-and-mahoganv bright-work on deck) that were beyond our experience and, I regret to say, talents. They were especially beyond the contract price. The really important thing, he felt, was this: You tie up alongside, somewhere, and people walk along the wharf and look down on vour deck. That's

the view that counts. It establishes you as the owner of a real yacht, or it points up the melancholy fact that you patronized a backwoods boatyard somewhere east of Long Island. There are, admittedly, farmers in those dark regions who can build a strong hull, but

So, to provide us with a sample that we could strive to equal, he made up (in his own shop) a complete set of companionway rails and sliding hatch cover, splined, glued, sanded, and finished with 10 coats of varnish. Unfortunately, the damned thing didn't fit by a mile, and we spent days beveling, scribing, narrowing, and straightening before we could get it fastened in place. By that time it had a somewhat battered look, but the owner was proud of it. We went on to fit his colossal railcaps (milled from straight stock, to be steamed, edge-bent, and scarfed together) and his classic skylight and a great hatch in the foredeck— and a housetop laid in gleaming natural wood. I'll bet it shrank to a sprinkler system that would put. out. a general-alarm blaze.

And, you know, the man was right about the importance of this deck furniture, though not entirely for the reasons he lived by. A

wooden hull is a simple thing. Keep it wet, and it takes care of itself. A companionway hatch cover lives a more difficult life. It must open and close almost at the flick of a finger, thousands of times a season. It. must cheerfully support the weight of stamping feet. It must repel water that hits it violently from all sides and above. It must do all these things (and look good besides) in spite of sun and salt. Other deck openings—hatches in the fore- and after-decks, water-trap ventilators, skylights—must meet and overcome some of the same problems. And when I add toerails, deadlights, and mast jackets to the list, I almost wish I'd stuck with dugout canoes. However, here we are, Sam Manning and I, having lured you thus far through the sweet and simple parts of boatbuilding, and honor demands that we try to finish the job.

figure 16-1 Companionway slide

Companion Way Offset Hatch Construction

The small end of the rail must be deep enough to accommodate the depth of the hatch cover in its open position.


Groove for slide tongue

Vertical pieces

Ve x Va groove at both ends of hatch cover to cut dripping

Trim wrdfr-.m

No trim

Vertical pieces

Boat Cabin Joiner

Limber hole

Edge piece


Limber hole

Beams across the top

Slide tongue straps

Foam rubber here

Hatch planking edge fastened with 30d nails

Edge piece


Uil figure 16-2 Hatch-slide systems

Keel Joinery Wooden Ships
Hardwood strip
Alden brass rim

Companionway rails

Let's consider the companionway opening and its cover. This is a tricky bit of furniture, with details that can vary in minor ways, and is frequently left to the ingenuity of the builder. I can understand why, as I attempt to describe my own way of doing this job. Here's where Sam takes over (see Figures 16-1 and 16-2). I'll lead you from one drawing to the next, with briefest comment on each.

The first move, of course, is to shape and fasten the rails, a bit more than twice the fore-and-aft length of the opening in the end of the housetop which forms the companionway (Figure 16-la). The rails must, obviously, lie exactly parallel and perfectly straight, stand plumb on their inner faces, and fit the 'thwart-ships crown of the house. They will be bridged at the forward end of the opening by a dam that stands flush with the tops of the rails and is crowned top and bottom to match that 'thwart-ships crown of the housetop (see Figure 16-1 b). The rails must further incorporate some means for locking the cover down, while still allowing it to travel smoothly fore and aft. Provide for this by making a full-length groove along the inside face of each rail, exactly parallel with the top. (I have an ancient Winch dado cutter which has done this job for me countless times.

You can do the same thing by making four passes on your table saw.) A projection from each beam end, either a nub left sticking out (see Figure 16-2a), or a flat piece of bronze screw-fastened under the end (see Figures 16-lc and 16-2b), will ride the groove and prevent the cover from rising up.

The "cavern" (pre-stressed plank or plywood)

figure 16-3

figure 16-3

Building Story Houston FrameHatching Construction Joinery
Hatch-slide beam

Carlin or blocking

Cabin beams

Cabintop figure 16-4 Dorade-type skylight

Glass "floor

Open and screened


Icy Pole Stick Outlines Bundles




You might also note that the hold-down job can be done in a number of other ways, two of which are shown. The first (Figure 16-2c) uses an extra flat strip, screw-fastened to the top of the rail, and projecting inward over the notched beam end. Make this of dense, hard wood, wax it. with the butt end of a candle, and replace it with ease if it breaks or weathers. Or, if you want to stagger in the footsteps of the great

(Herreshoff? Alden? Concordia? What boatwas it that darkens the mists of my memories?), you can do it as in Figure 16-2d. It looks simple enough, once you get that 1 V4-inch i.p.s. brass pipe split precisely down the middle, but it involves some delicate shaping of curves and rabbets. If you've got the time and patience, go to it.. One more detail: I always make these rails about twice as high aft as forward, for no good reason except that they look better to me that way. Suit yourself, or even follow the designer's drawing, if he deigns to detail this bit of furniture.

Bore the limber holes, just forward of the dam, right at the bottom edge, as showm in Figure 16-lb, and line the holes with flared copper tubing, to seal the exposed end grain.

Now you can fasten these rails in place. Use bolts made from V^-inch continuous-threaded brass rod through carlins and beams, and add screws, up from the underside of the housetop, between beams. Don't forget the bedding compound.

And what about the after ends that stick out over the bridge deck? Yacht designers and other idealists do wondrous endings here. I go through a brief struggle with my conscience, and then saw them off (tenderly, and with trembling hand, I assure you) flush with the end of the house, ready for the vertical pieces that will confine the drop boards.

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How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

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