Adding a U Shaped Galley

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Fall 2002 --
Some C&C Landfall 38's had a U Shaped Galley, but many didn't.
I want one.
If you're going to cook, you really need counter space. Also, the more storage the merrier.

The huge, ungainly table was sitting in my garage -- left over from pulling the cabin sole. Looking at it, I realized that one of the leaves would work perfectly as the new galley counter! The Formica matches, and it has the handholds on the corners just like the rest of the galley corners. Cool!

I propped it up and hung it
from the interior handrails to jump start the little gray cells. Just looking at it while (ahem) just hanging out
really helped with the design phase.

I ripped and glued two strips of 7/8" teak stock to make the corners. My next door neighbor walked by the garage and said,
"if I ever need a clamp, I know who to call."
(click on the pic for a closer look.)

With some hand sanding with 60 grit Garnet, it looks as good as a routed edge.

I rough sanded one to verify the concept, and left the other for later.

The corners of all the cabinetry on the boat have 1 inch radius corners. I don't have a 1 inch roundover router bit, and besides, they all need a router with a 1/2" chuck. I played around with some CAD software and figured out the angles, and then used my bench belt sander to slowly work the corner into rough shape. They only need to be 36 inches, but these are 44 inches so I'd have room to mess up at the ends. It's tough to control the ends on a belt sander...


Sidebar - fast forward to PBS 200 years later:

"I'm so glad you brought this piece to
the Antiques Roadshow today!
This is a classic example of the early
21st century 'slap-it-together-in-the-garage -
after-happy-hour' school. Note how the glue drips contribute to the structural integrity of the whole,
and how the artist inserted random chips
by appearing to lose control of his router --
uniquely conceptualizing life's uncertainties
during the opening years of the century.
While not signed,
this is clearly the work of Wally, the
world renown San Francisco Bay Daysailor.
How many generations has this
been in your family?"

(Uh, um, okay probably not.)

I used my router table to put a rabbet edge on the corner rails. Note the fancy maple fence on the router table!

Maybe I should have done this BEFORE rounding the corners, since it was hard to control. Of course, if I had done the rabbet first, maybe I'd have messed up the round edges. It's not exactly a question for the ages...
Whatever. It all worked out fine.

The next step was to glue 1/2" Teak veneer plywood to the corner rails, and then glue on a rail at the top to screw into the counter, and the bottom to screw into the sole. I used Titebond II wood glue for everything, as it has always worked well for me. The top rail is Red Oak, as there was a lot of it sitting around the garage from a couple of home furniture projects. Normally Red Oak isn't used in boats, since it isn't very rot resistant, but at the top it'll be fine.

Teak is on the bottom, since I'm sure it'll get wet.

I dragged it all down to the boat
to do some measuring and thinking --
no written plans here, I'm just winging it.

A key requirement is that the entire counter and cabinet be rock solid but easily removed,
since there's a water tank in the bench
and sooner or later it's going to have to be replaced.
I don't want to build a problem!

The cabinet will screw into the cabin sole, and be bolted to the bulkhead. Fortunately, the 1/4" bolts that attach the galley rail to the bulkhead are
the same height as the extra wide oak rail.
This was a happy accident, but I'll take credit.
Somehow, during those months of just thinkin',
I decided to make that rail two inches wide.
Even when making it I wasn't exactly sure
why I wanted it that way...
The unconscious mind is a wonderful thing. (sic)

Now, I'll just use longer bolts and the cabinet will be super secure on that side without drilling any new holes..

I'm using Titebond II wood glue for everything. No screws. Titebond II has proven itself.
I've used it in applications that have been daily wet for 5 years, and the glue joints haven't separated.
(With a well built joint, mind you.)
A couple of times I've accidentally glued wood blocks together with it,
and had to break them apart with the back of an axe.
The glue held -- the joint broke at the wood next to the glue joint (and I screwed up that project.)
So, I trust this glue.

The corner joints are pretty darn strong.

Below, I fit the top into place
to get an idea of how it will look,
and get a little inspiration to keep going.

After attaching the sides, I dragged it all down to the boat again to see if I'd measured correctly, and do a little proof-of-concept testing. Good thing! A couple of corner cuts need adjustment, no big deal. However, the big deal is the corner that juts over the bench.

I'm leaving a space there so I don't lose the sea berth on the port side -- I need room for feet! The idea is to stick your feet in there when sleeping, and stick a sleeping bag in there other times.

I took a short nap to test the concept, and realized this is a leg breaker. I can see how a couple of serious jolts to the boat could wedge an ankle between the cabinet and bench, and... SNAP.
I don't expect to ever encounter that situation, but stuff happens and sometimes it happens to me.
So I'll raise that corner up about 6 inches.

After making the appropriate adjustments to the side panel,
it's time to build the interior bins.

I'm making a large bin that will be accessed through the top. It will have a false bottom, so the center section of the cabinet will hold stuff that I'll rarely access -- extra canned goods. Even though I'm just daysailing I keep a weeks worth of canned food on board in case I have a problem and need to toss the hook over and work on the engine or something.

The top will need to be emptied to get access to the center bin. This might be a dumb idea, and if it turns out
to be really dumb I'll add a door.
A bin is just more efficient than a cabinet.
I'm thinking that if I ever seriously cruise this boat, it will be a good spot for 'restocking' provisions.

The bottom section will have a louvered door.

(I meant to take a better picture after the light changed, but I pulled it all off the boat
and stuck it back in the truck, and went sailing. That's what we're here for, right?)
Here's an interesting thing.
To the left is a piece of the veneer bulkhead from 1981, that I hacked off for this project. To the right is a piece of the Teak Veneer I purchased at $135 a sheet in 2002. The old bulkhead has 1/16" of veneer -- enough to allow a couple of refinishings. The new stuff has about 1/64" of veneer. Golly Gee, ain't technology wonderful.
It's so thin I'm afraid to sand it!
So, anyway, I sealed the interior bins and the bottom edges with Smith's Penetrating Epoxy. Not because it's really all that necessary, but I had it out for another project so what the heck.
It makes a good primer!
(Wear a respirator and follow the directions.)

I put a "pencil drawer" in the area above the bench.
A pencil drawer is any drawer that's three inches or less in depth. Whatever. It's three inches deep and
I'll probably end up tossing a pencil in it.

After searching for ready-made drawer slides, I said heck with it and set up the router table, and married two pieces of oak to make drawer slides. It's simpler, stronger, and easier, but also stickier. I might paint the slides with graphite impregnated epoxy to make them slide easier, but only if it turns out to be a bother.

I glued little blocks for reinforcement everywhere that
it might help without ever being seen. It can't hurt.
The side rails rabbetted nicely into that wide back bar.

I almost got carried away
with really cool
dovetail joints in the drawer.
Yeah Right.
This drawer looks nice and
won't break, ever!
I'm not making an heirloom
here (see sidebar.)
So I just routed grooves into the sides and fitted exterior grade plywood for the back and bottom. That will be fine.

The drawer front is made from solid Teak, using the router to make it fit the hole, and to cut slots so the drawer sides would be structurally solid.

(Note the ant inspecting my work in the picture above. That's called "action photography". )

I drove myself to distraction
trying to match the interior teak.

It isn't pure teak. There's a red tinge that exists on some production boats built during the early 1980's.
Somebody must have decided that
'The Target Market' wanted Red Teak.
Apparently it didn't help save
the boat builders in the 1980's...

My last boat was an early 80's boat
and I never did match the wood.
I'm gonna keep this one, so I tried harder. You can count the cans to the right and add another 10 that are lost in the garage and figure out how much money I wasted
trying to get it just exactly right.
I even tried getting a custom stain made at
three different paint stores, but no dice.
Red Teak Oil, Cherry colored Tung Oil... nope.

The closest match I could find was McCloskey's TungSeal Colonial Cherry. Even that was a bit dark, but after testing on a scrap it seemed that if I bleached
with Oxalic acid before applying the stain,
it came close enough to allow forward progress.
Perfection isn't all it's cracked up to be,
especially if it keeps one from getting the job done.

So, great, I bleached the entire cabinet with Oxalic acid and then rinsed. To my horror it exposed a manufacturing defect in the teak veneer, and three bubbles appeared. Given the thin veneer, I was afraid to sand it smooth, so I soaked it again and placed a scrap board on the offending spot and clamped it every way possible.
After it dried, it was flat again. Whew!

That was scary, and annoying. If I spend money for
marine grade Teak Veneer plywood,
I expect a good product.
No wonder people buy Good Old Boats!

Then I slapped a coat of paint in it.
Why Interlux Largo Blue Topsides paint?
Because it was sitting around after
another project. (It was the wrong
color, so I have a full quart.)

It's pretty serious paint and
wasting it would literally be a crime.
Besides, I'll only see it
when the lid's off.

Anyway, after staining I finished with three coats of
MinWax Urethane Spar Varnish.
If you put that varnish side by side against
Z-Spar or other quality marine varnishes,
it looks identical, but costs less so I'll use it inside.
It has the amber color of a marine varnish,
and adds a slightly yellow color over the red stain.
This is pretty darn close
to the finish on the rest of the interior.

To make the bin lid I traced it with my router and a 1/8" bit. It seemed like a good idea, but didn't work. First off, 1/8" is just too big a crack around the lid. Second, I screwed up and lost control of the router (below.)

I think the neighbors heard me use the "F" word...

That turned out not to be such a horrible thing. I put a 1/4" bit in the router and retraced,
which made it a lot cleaner and sharper as well as putting a little 1/4" round corner in it. The lid came from the other table leaf, and now fits with 1/16" clearance.

My Handy Dremel Tool works great to route out the little notches for the latch. I'm putting a latching handle on the lid, so it won't fly off if the boat bounces ugly.
For the record, I have no intention of ever putting this boat or myself in a situation where the lid could fly off and dump stuff all over the place. However, it's just good practice. I've put latching hardware in the cabin sole, and anywhere that I've worked on.

I don't want a hinge on the lid to this bin, so I took a doweling jig (right) and drilled holes in the lid and cabinet top.

Right after taking this picture,
I dropped the lid on the driveway, chipping the Formica on one corner.

The neighbors heard me use
the "F" word again.

Since I've now screwed it up twice, I'm going to live with it and cut a
new lid later, when the stress is over... After a year thinking,
and now about two months
in the 'doing' part,
the project is getting a little stale.
I want RESULTS... but the finish part isn't the part to rush through!

The idea is to take these stainless pins (right) that have been cluttering up my little rigging parts box and put them to good use.

It's important to line the holes up! (Left)

So with matching holes in the lid and the counter top, I stuck the pin in the lid with just a little bit sticking out the end. This isn't supposed to hold the lid up, but to keep it from flying off, and it has to be just right so that it doesn't stick and crack the counter top.

The louvered hatch for the lowest cabinet is just a standard louvered part that you can get anywhere. Rather than mess with a hinge, I built a teak "hook" at the bottom so it'll just snap on and off.

The pencil drawer latch is standard, though I mounted it far on the left so the hardware wouldn't block part of the drawer. In retrospect it probably wouldn't matter.

So there it is!
And everything's just perfect.
Nothing lasts forever, and in this case
it lasted about 15 seconds...

Since it's a counter in the galley I fully expect to spill
wet stuff all over it. Rather than build some gasket setup,
I made the teak battens extra wide (perhaps too wide) and routed a deep, wide groove around the edge.
If wet stuff drips through the crack
it should get caught in the groove to be wiped up
before dripping down... down... down... into the bins.

The teak and the edges of the bin are sealed with epoxy.

To remove the last traces
of the top's former life,
I scarfed in a strip of teak where the piano hinge
used to be.

And here we are,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

I still need to add teak trim on the outboard end but wanted to get the whole thing installed before planning that, since there are a couple of ways to do it and I don't know what
to do yet. It would be nice to make the trim extend out along the whole bench and turn that whole shelf into a bookshelf that won't spill when heeled.
(I like books.)

From this angle, and in this light, it looks like I matched the teak color pretty well. In reality, it doesn't match.
So what. I don't care. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to make me happy. I also did a fair job of scratching the finish moving everything onto the boat, so maybe I'll put another coat of varnish on it.
On the other hand, the scratches match the rest of the interior!

Shoot. I need to get a better camera.

I really think this addition makes the boat a heck of a lot
more livable.

The cabinet itself only weighs about 25 pounds, but can store a lot of canned goods. All the additional weight is right on the keel on the centerline.
That's nice.

Funny, but getting the project to this stage didn't give me some enormous sense of accomplishment.
It should have been this way
in the first place!
It just feels "right".

Here's looking forward.

I have a big trash can bungied onto the bulkhead. One of my first ideas on the project was to build a trash receptacle into the cabinet, but it just -- um --
seemed like a waste... (Sorry.)

For current use, with projects galore and
SF Bay fun sailing, it's great to have a big trash can.
I don't use the oven anyway!

If I ever seriously cruise this boat, my entire Personal Waste Philosophy will adjust to the new environment and the area under the sink will be just fine for a small trash can.

(Who's kidding? I'm going to spend the rest of my life with a big trash can bungied to the bulkhead.)

This picture shows the view from the bench. Note that I raised the cut over the bench to allow sleeping without breaking ankles.

As soon as I made the cut, I realized I could have made it nice and round like the other corners. Oh well. I'm not losing any sleep over the mistake.

Another thing I'd change is to make the top area two inches lower and the drawer two inches deeper. You can sleep there and not miss the space...
But hey, I'm happy with it.

So there are some details to wrap up (as with all my projects) and they'll get done when the time is right.

November 2002 -
I added a little piece of teak for trim, after remembering that one of my key objectives was to keep the cabinet removable.

This leaves a very secure little area on the shelf between the counter and the cabinets over the bench, which is nice. Whatever gets put there won't fall off the shelf when the boat heels.

A few weeks later, I added a little mini-table on the cabinet....

Click here to get the the Bottom and see the final results...