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Project Log:  Saturday, August 6, 2011

Two hours and all I have to show for it is a few cleats?

It was a more disjointed and unproductive day than I'd planned, thanks to external forces, but despite the minimal visual progress it was something of a banner day.

The mind can work in odd ways.  Ever since beginning work on the dinette, I'd been trying to mentally conceive of the appearance and layout of the upper cabinets/backrest outboard of the dinette.  Oh, some aspects, like the 10° angle, were clear from the onset, but the rest was fuzzy.

Things came together for me when I was sitting in the cabin of my sailboat Glissando the other weekend.  On that boat, I'd built a simple settee backrest topped with a narrow shelf, with additional storage cabinets running between the shelf and the underside of the deck above. 

A 2001 picture of Glissando's brand-new interior
showing the backrests, shelves, and cabinets.

For whatever reason, the idea of a similar stepped arrangement had eluded me in my thoughts about the new dinette backrest and cabinets, but suddenly it seemed like the obvious course.  Not only was the shelf a handy place for the usual detritus of onboard life, but it broke up the otherwise boring flat plane of the backrest, adding interest and texture as well as utility.

Having come to this basic decision, I now had to determine the details on board.  In general, I liked the height of the backrests on Glissando, but I couldn't find any information in my records regarding their height.  I had a fairly good idea, but with the boat two hours away I couldn't measure them now.  I got in touch with a friend who'd done something similar and asked him if he could measure his backrests for me, at least to give me a starting point to confirm what I was already thinking.  I'd been thinking about 18" above the level of the cushion would be appropriate, both visually and from a comfort standpoint.  With the 4" cushion (roughly), this translated to an overall height of 22" from the top of the platform.  In short order, my friend texted me back to tell me his backrest length (the actual panel) was 22.5", so this confirmed my general thinking.

With some figures in mind, I did some preliminary layout to test the waters, and determined that the idea and heights would work as I'd hoped, so I made additional layout lines on the bulkheads to demark the position of support cleats for the plywood cabinet structure. 


From some larger boards purchased for the purpose, I milled hardwood cleat stock in my habitual way, then cut and installed a horizontal cleat along the full length of the dinette, along a layout line that I'd marked once I'd installed the dinette platform.  The position of the backrest relative to the seating area had been long determined, going back to the basic initial layout of the whole structure.


Afterwards, I cut additional cleats and installed them along the new layout lines on the bulkheads, defining the eventual position of the backrest and the horizontal shelf above.  Committing to the cleats' installation--and therefore the configuration of the cabinets--was an important step, as it frequently required more time and effort to conceive and think through various installations than to actually build them.   I'd hoped to begin the panel layout and cutting, but with other items on my docket and some unplanned changes I had to leave that for another day.

Total Time Today:  2 hours

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