Finishing the Interior Renovation (Part 1)

Projects & Maintenance

Having completed the install of the new headliner, mahogany cabin sides and under-deck paneling a few months ago, it was time to finish the interior renovation with the final trim moulding to bring it all together. While taking a break from the interior, I had a chance to look at what had been done and ruminate upon the possibilities of final completed job. If time and money were of no concern, I could easily make this thing look like a gothic church, but those two constraints will help keep the design aspects tastefully unfussy. There were some minor challenges, but I was excited to get started.

Here's an overhead stringer where it abuts the cabin-sides. We need to make that look pretty.

Here’s an overhead stringer where it abuts the cabin-sides. We need to make that look pretty.

My first task was to create some yolk/fiddle pieces to be placed at the ends of the overhead stringers. These would not only cover the gaps between the cabin-sides and the stringers but add some character to otherwise plain lateral transitions. A quick cardboard template was made and transferred to some 1/2″ ply and cut out with the bandsaw. I smoothed the curves with a belt sander and confirmed a good fit over the stringers.


1/2″ ply template cut and sanded.

With the 1/2″ ply template, I grabbed the 3/4″ teak piece leftover from the original drop-down table leg and used some double-sided tape to secure the template to the underside of the teak. Then, with a 1/2″ flush cutting bit in the router I carefully trimmed out each of the final pieces. The router made quick work of it! I had just enough teak from the table leg to get the 8 pieces required. Although will no longer be a table leg, it will remain as part of the boat in a new form. There’s gotta be some good Mojo in that, right?

Too easy!

Too easy! 7 more to go…

After cutting all 8 of the stringer yolks I switched out the flush-cut bit for a 3/8″ round-over bit and carved off the outside facing edge of each piece. The final step was to kiss them with a belt sander to remove the old varnish. The blonde teak grain smiled back at me as if to say, “Nicely done, Sport!”

Voila! I'm getting pretty damn good at this woodworking stuff.

Voila! I’m getting pretty damn good at this woodworking stuff.

Back at the boat I test fitted a few pieces with great anticipation. They were nice and tight! I’ll need to customize each piece a bit depending on the dimensions and angles of each stringer end as planned, but the radii of the inside edges that will hug the stringers are perfect! Maybe watching all those episodes of This Old House as a kid is paying off?



After confirming each of the pieces fit well, and sanding a few spots here and there I began to round of the tops to better match up with the oak battens. I also trimmed the teak stringer faces to allow clearance for the new yolk fiddle pieces.

Final test fit - Rounded off tops and trimmed the teak stringer faces.

Final test fit – Rounded off tops and trimmed the teak stringer faces.

Moving right along, I coated the new fiddle pieces with some Epifanes varnish and installed them. For the time being, I decided not to affix them with screws or glue until the trim moulding is in place. As they are now, the stringer planks press tightly against them to secure them to the cabin sides – they don’t budge. Also, if i need to make adjustments when the time comes to install the moulding, I’m not married to the current placement.

All the pieces are fitting together nicely - Gestalt!

All the pieces are fitting together nicely – Gestalt!

In addition to the fiddle pieces for the overhead stringers, I fashioned some fiddles for the area where the cabin top drops. Not only will they add some boaty panache, but they will also cover a few boo-boos – much like the fiddles for the overhead stringers achieved. I penciled a nice Bézier curve and used the ban saw at the work to make it happen.

Fiddles for the drop in the cabin top made from 3/4

Fiddles for the drop in the cabin top made from 3/4″ red oak board scrap.

Nearly there, once I determined the proper angles I cut the tops of fiddles so they would fit snuggly in place. Then, using the router I rounded off the the edges and used the belt sander to shave some material off the backs to dial in the correct bias. With everything looking good, it was just a matter of drilling, affixing screws and applying some bungs. I’ll hold off on applying varnish until all the moulding is up.




Reinventing the Headliner: Done!

Projects & Maintenance

This past weekend marked the completion of the new headliner (cue trumpets), a much awaited milestone indeed! I could lie and say we did it all in a few weekends with minimal effort and planning, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was tricky and there were several setbacks along the way, but having a classy looking overhead that is both easily removable (for deck maintenance) and easy on the eyeballs is reward enough.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For those of you out there looking up at you’re dingy, old 70’s naugahyde/viynl headliner with contempt, glower no more. With a fair amount of patience and work, you to can have a new overhead without the need of huge outlays of cash. Just be prepared for the process to reveal additional projects long hidden by that groovy, fake leather…held in by hundreds of rusty staples…for decades. Your mettle will be tested my friends.

The fictitious

The fictitious “Nauga” was part of a 1960s ad campaign for Naugahyde.

First things first – the DEMOLITION! We had the great intention of carefully removing each headliner section to preserve for template making…a lovely thought, but we quickly learned it’s impossible. The headliner was affixed to the cabin top and sides with roughly 1,000,000 staples, most of which were rusty, brittle and stubborn. The staples numbered as many as stars in the Milky Way. Seriously! It took the better part of 2 days to remove them, our hands tender from prolonged plier gripping. We surmised that the original installer must have been paid per staple. Curse you Staple Man!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the wake of battle, we found mold in spots, mummified insects and several suspect areas where thru-bolted hardware had likely been leaking for decades. These problem areas needed to be addressed before going further but with the headliner out is was considerably less complicated to do so. Additionally, It was a good time to remove the handrails and secure them with proper SS washers and fasteners and the dorade boxes had to come of to access the brass thru-deck flanges underneath.

In the meantime, I scoured the web for inspiration and information for a handsome and practical headliner replacement. Of course in our case, it was really a headliner/cabin side/underdeck replacement – given the original headliner wrapped around the cabin sides and underneath the side deck. My eureka moment came when I happened upon John Stone’s Far Reach Blog. After reading over his wonderfully detailed process write up a few times my tenuous grasp on what needed to be done turned into an informed confidence and know-how. Without it, I think I’d still be doodling on graph paper and scratching my head.

cleatsUsing Mr. Stone’s ideas I went to installing overhead cleats to screw the new headliner panels into. I ripped 3/4″ marine ply into several 1.5″ strips and pre-coated them with Smith’s Penetrating epoxy. While those cured, I roughed up the FG where the cleats would be glued with 50 grit and cleaned with acetone. Some of the gel goat on the stringer tabs needed to be ground off before cleats could be glued but the disc grinder made quick, albeit messy work of it. To affix the cleats, I used some 1.5″ self-taping screws and liberal amounts of PL Premium. Once the PLP cured I removed the screws and filled the holes with epoxy.

After weighing the pros/cons of a few different materials we found a promising product over at CaliBamboo made of thin, finished sanded bamboo paneling on a mesh-backed 4′ x 8′ roll. After estimating the square footage needed I ordered 6 rolls and went to work making templates out of cardboard. When the bamboo arrived it was obvious that the mesh was not rigid enough to hold the form of the cabin top curvature – in other words, it sagged a bit during the rough install. The simple solution was to cut matching panels from luan and glue the bamboo panel atop those to add rigidity and hug the curvature of the cabin top. In the end, there were 14 panels making up the new headliner – coated with clear polyurethane.

(Unfortunately, CaliBamboo has since discontinued the 4′ X 8′ bamboo rolls I used. They do however now offer 1/4″ bamboo plywood with the same planked look and no need to double-up with luan backing.) 


Roughed in! Ready for varnish.

Holding it all up are 1″ red oak battens fixed through the panel edges and into the 3/4″ overhead cleats with #6 brass finish screws and #6 finish washers. I found the battens pre-made at our local Ganahl Lumber for a reasonable price, freeing me up from lots of work with the router. Most sections have 3 battens holding them up – forward, middle and aft. Not only do the battens hold the panels securely in place, but they hide any gaps and trim the overhead to the stringers. I tapered the end edges of the battens so they’ll fit snuggly in place once the top cabin side moulding is installed. Once they were all cut and sanded they got a few coats of Epifanes clear varnish. The original teak trim rings for the dome lights had to be shaved of a bit to accommodate the 3/4″ drop in headliner height.

With a 3/4″ gap between the overhead panels and the bare FG cabin top we considered installing some insulation in that space. So far however, that pocket of air has kept the cabin very comfortable in our So. Cal climate. It is nice to know it can be added easily if the need arises, as each section takes less than minute to unscrew and take down.

With the overhead complete I’m moving forward with installing wood panels under the side deck and getting started on the really fun part – ultimately trimming everything together to create a seamless work of wooden art!