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Project Log:  Saturday, November 10, 2012

In the couple weeks since I milled the ceiling strips for the forward cabin, I'd hoped to have a chance to pre-finish them, but hadn't had time.  So to begin, I laid the strips out on some horses and applied a coat of natural tung oil, my choice of finish for the strips since it was easy to apply.  I applied a coat to all surfaces to seal the wood, and left the strips to dry.  I figured at best, I'd be able to work with the strips in a day.

Over the past several days I had had time to complete the varnish work on the companionway trim and companionway ladder. 


To install the companionway ladder, I first covered the face of the access hatch with tape so I could make reference marks, then installed the hatch in the boat and, using two scraps of material the same thickness as my finished cabin sole would be, aligned the new ladder against the hatch to which it'd be attached, and traced the outline on the tape for reference.

Down on the bench, I realigned the ladder according to my marks and, from the back side, drilled pilot holes through the plywood and into the cherry ladder, then secured it with screws after removing the tape.  I reinstalled the sound insulation on the back of the panel, which I'd removed in order to secure the ladder.  Keeping the sole scraps in place, I reinstalled the panel in the boat.  The ladder worked great.


At this point, I discovered to my pleasure that the ceiling strips had dried much faster than I'd expected, and were dry enough to handle.  I'd apply most of the finish once they were in place, and only had needed the sealer coat on the back side first, so I decided to continue with the installation.  Later, once the whole ceiling was installed, I'd apply several more coats to achieve a finish similar to the satin varnish elsewhere in the cabin.

Installation was slow going thanks to the tight working quarters and the need to custom-cut each piece.  Starting at the top, the first strip on each side was the most difficult.  I used two overlapping sections of scrap plywood, cut to the same dimensions as the ceiling strips, to determine the overall length and angles at each end, and cut the first strip for each side. 

Allowing the board to fall naturally into position, I found that the forward ends angled upwards more than the curve of the deck would suggest, thanks to the compound curvature of the hull and the increasing flare as I went forward, but after attempting to keep the strip in line with the angle I'd determined for my deadlight frames (I'd expected the ceiling strips to be parallel to these frames), I discovered a number of problems with that approach, mainly that the strips ended up below the line of the overhead panel frames in the middle section; I planned for the overhead to hide the top seam of the ceiling.  If I'd continued in this way, I would have had to make a custom piece for the top to completely hide the hull and insulation, and this didn't seem worth the effort.

So I decided to allow the strips to fall where they wanted to, in the most natural way.  I installed the strips with bronze round-head screws, one at each support location.


I'd decided to work on both sides at once to keep the materials as consistent as possible, in case I ran out of milled material before the end and had to use another board.  The boards I'd previously milled varied in color, so I chose pieces entirely at random to avoid any patterns.  With the top boards installed, it was easier to work on the next ones, as I had a natural alignment point. 

One board at a time, I worked down from the top till I reached the deadlight cutouts, where I had to start cutting little wedges out of the strip to fit around the opening.  (Later, there'd be trim to hide the raw edges of the openings.)   I measured and marked the fourth board on the port side, but didn't install it as I was running out of steam.  But on the starboard side, I completed the last long board, so the next set of planks would be shorter and fit between the deadlight openings.


The bad angles looking into the space meant that photographing the work was difficult.

Total Time Today:  6.25 hours (plus 2.25 hours spread over several preceding days)

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