Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Birth of a Cockpit Table - the Agony and the Ecstasy

November 26, 2017

We had a perfectly good but not perfect cockpit table on Well, Why Not?.  It was golden, amber colored teak, highly varnished, and folded out of the way against the steering pedestal when not in use.  It had fiddles on four sides which kept things from sliding off when in the upright position.  However, it was not wide enough to have even one normal sized plate sit flat on it.  It held binoculars, extra dark glasses, and the miscellaneous small things that seem to accumulate in the cockpit.  But using it as a dinner table did not work and eating out in the cockpit is something we really like to do. 

Jim’s summer challenge was to enlarge the table at home where he had all of his tools.  The summer progressed and finally, after weeks of strategizing and planning, he bought a beautiful mahogany board – 8 ft long, the minimum length available and 6 feet longer than what we needed!   Jim sliced our current table in half with the idea of inserting the mahogany in between the two teak halves and attaching it with hinges so that the table would have two leaves which could be folded up for the lowered position and in the upright position could be either closed or opened.  We liked the idea of the contrasting woods of teak and mahogany. 

The original cockpit table cut in half
The original table with the mahogany set in the middle

I could write a novel about the next several convoluted steps and the agonizing he did over them…..but I will give the “cliff notes” version instead.  He searched for hinges that would lie flat when opened, debated using chisels or buying a router to drill out a shallow layer of wood for the hinges so they would be flush with the surface of the table.  After some frustration with the chisels, he borrowed two routers from a friend, practiced with them on a spare piece of wood and eventually got pretty good.  
Finally got it right!

Working with the router

Then he did the routing on the actual pieces only to discover that he had put two of the hinges on the wrong side of one leaf so that the fiddles would be in the middle of the table when the leaves were in the closed position.  


By this time summer was coming to an end and departure time to head south was fast approaching!!  The solution??  Make a completely new table out of the mahogany!  Once he finally accepted the inevitability of that decision he made quick work of it.  
The all mahogany table with one hinge mounted

No time to get it varnished, but it was one of his first projects when we arrived in Florida.
Jim's system for putting on the varnish
Once he finished varnishing he attached the brackets used to hang the table from the pedestal and adjusted them (several times!) so the table was level – or at least as level as the boat.  There are no fiddles on this table – maybe next summer! But it is beautiful and we are looking forward to meals in the cockpit. 

Hanging on pedestal in closed position

Upright in opened position

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