Saturday, February 7, 2015

Seat back tops laminated and installed

Before doing any more painting I next wanted to create and install the tops on the seat backs. This is the last structural part of the boat to be built, so getting this done is a great milestone.

I've been thinking over time how I wanted to handle this part.  Some builders don't have any trim installed in this area, and some builders have fairly wide tops installed, the better to sit on. Because I don't yet know whether I'll want to perch up there much, and don't know where the favored location will be if I do, I decided to just install a medium wide top, as I can always modify that later if I want to.

I decided on a top that is about 3/4" thick and 2" wide.  I laminated this up from four 1/2" strips of pine, which take the bend fairly easily.

I put clear packing tape on the tops of the seats, so that I could laminate the tops in place. It was another glue-up that took most of my clamps.  I used C-clamps to clamp sticks to the seatback on the inner part of the curve, then pulled in the ends with the handscrew clamps.  I used lightweight bar clamps down to the bottom of the seat back to pull the top down to the curve, some small bar clamps with sticks to align the top of the lamination, and some small bar clamps and c-clamps to hold the laminations together.  Quite a conglomeration.

After the epoxy cured I had two tops that were curved just right to fit the seat backs.

I knocked off most of the squeeze out with a scraper, and then a quick trip through the planer had them looking nice.

The next step was to determine the edge profile.  I cut off a bit of the extra length and layed out three different radii on the edges.  My largest roundover bit is 1/2" radius, so I used that on the inner top.  I didn't want the outer edge to be completely rounded over, so used a smaller bit on the bottom edge of that.

The only tricky part to fit was the return at the front of the cockpit.  This has a compound bevel where it meets the cabin side, and it's easy to get too short as you sneak up on the right fit. 

But I got this side just about perfect.  As for the one on the other side, well, that's what thickened epoxy is for...

I primed the bare wood with unthickened epoxy, and then used silica-thickened epoxy to glue down the parts. After the epoxy cured and the clamps were cleared away I was pleased with the way things were looking.

And a little sanding dresses it up even further.

When I clamped these for gluing, I tried to let them hang over to the inside just a bit, so that I could bring them back flush with spokeshave, sandpaper and scraper.  This shot is from before I did that.

After bringing the insides flush and cleaning up a bit of squeeze out on the underside I sanded them all over and then finished up with a fillet of epoxy.  Here at the cabin junction:

And all along underneath the edge.

I climbed in the boat and tried them out and found this bit of wood provides a really nice arm rest with no sharp edges, and sitting up on top for a bit to stretch my legs if wanted should be very doable, too.  All in all a nice looking and functional addition to the seat backs that finishes things off nicely.


  1. Wow, that looks awesome. Why didnt i think of that when I made my coaming... Makes me want to strip it and redo along your example. Very neet and funtional job!

  2. Thanks, Rik! I think it will be comfortable, and would be fairly easy to retrofit to your Pathfinder. But maybe you just want to enjoy sailing for a bit first, now that you're on the water? - Dave

    1. Dave, yes, I am very glad to finally be on the water.
      Right now I don't sit on the coaming at all. If I get to that point the coaming edge will have to be redone. Your example will lead.

  3. Very nice solution. I may be following your lead if I can ever get around to it :-)
    Well done!

  4. Thanks, Simeon. I think you had mentioned before that you have a sharper corner on the seat back that gets uncomfortable on your arm, and I think I've got that that cured with this mod. -- Dave

  5. Dave, this looks awesome. Great job on the fit and finish. I will be doing something similar, but probably not as well executed.


    1. Thanks, Brent. I was looking it over again last night and thinking how nicely it finishes things off, besides being functional for comfortable seating. So feel free to copy any ideas I can provide. Looks like your build is coming along by leaps and bounds, and I'm enjoying watching your progress! -- Dave