Finish Trim:  Woodwork and Interior Details
This page was last updated on 4 March 2002

Main Salon        Forward Cabin        Head        Cushions        Cabin Sole

Storage Drawers        Cabinet  Doors and Caning        Trimwork in Galley        Bookshelves  

Completed Interior        Finishing off the Chain Locker        Small Projects and Finishing Touches


With the rough cabinetry complete in the main salon, I turned my attention to the myriad trim pieces required to cover raw plywood edges, seams and corners.  I will mill the various pieces needed out of solid cherry stock.  

I started by milling some fiddles for the shelves on the backrests port and starboard, as well as cushion-retaining fiddles for the settees.  These four pieces are identical and consist o a 3/4" thick piece of cherry stock with a wide dado in the back to provide an overlap.  I rounded the top corners to provide pleasing appearance and smooth feel.  To prevent the berth fiddles from cutting into legs when sitting, I made them so they project only 1" above the plywood surface of the berth.  With 4" cushions, cutting off the circulation to our feet shouldn't be an issue.  I cut them to the proper length and finished them with four coats of varnish (2 gloss base coats followed by 2 final coats of rubbed effect satin) and set them aside; I won't install the fiddles on the berths for a little while, since they would be susceptible to damage during the rest of construction, but the shelf fiddles were installed with glue.

I milled a variety of other pieces to cover the corners and seams as necessary; I milled all pieces with a table saw, router and hand tools as needed.  To date, I have spent a lot of time just milling and sanding these pieces, and I still have much more to do.  This is a time consuming part of the project, but one that doesn't show any immediate results. 

After a couple long days in the shop, I had a wide variety of trim pieces milled, some with grooves, some with rabbets, and all of them with rounded edges for smooth looks and safety.  I had fiddles for the countertops and shelves, backstops for some of the engine box, and thin, 1/4" x 3/4" pieces that I planned to use to trim around the perimeters of the plywood interior joinery. 

I spent time over a week or so installing the various bits of trim in the salon.  This is a time-consuming process, but one that really brings things together in the cabin.  I wanted to avoid visible screws wherever possible, but the problem was that most of the trim was too thin to allow for countersunk and plugged screws.  Plus, that is a lot of effort that I hoped to avoid.  To that end, I installed most of the trim with resorcinol glue, and "clamped" it in place while the glue dried with a hot melt glue gun.  This seemed to work pretty well, although on trim pieces that I knew would receive a lot of abuse I did use oval head screws to secure those pieces in place.

ELECTPANEL1.jpg (30180 bytes)     galleytrim.jpg (31876 bytes)     salon-111700.jpg (48144 bytes)     stovetrim.jpg (35012 bytes)     STEPS1.jpg (31316 bytes)

After finally finishing the last few pieces of trim (with the exception of the area above the icebox--more to come on this later), I sanded everything again with 220 grit, vacuumed everything off, cleaned with solvent and tacked.  I then, over the course of two warm-enough late November days, applied two coats of Epifanes gloss varnish.  The first coat was thinned 50%, the second about 25%; I lightly sanded between coats, although it was hardly necessary because the first coat soaks so much into the wood..  These form the base for the final two coats of Epifanes rubbed effect satin varnish that I will apply as soon as the weather allows.  The varnish transformed the cherry cabinets, changing them from attractive but dry-looking light wood to richly grained, darker, more intense looking joinery.  The effect is beautiful.

After getting the fixed ports in place a day after the second coat of varnish, I set up my electric ceramic disc furnace (Polonis) in the salon to help heat things up and cure the varnish, which was taking its sweet time because of the temperature.  I hung a blanket in the passageway to the head, and  draped a heavy comforter  (an old one) over the companionway opening, since I haven't yet installed the new companionway trim.  The heater made things warm enough that I was able to apply a coat of the final, rubbed effect satin varnish despite cold temperatures outside.  Fortunately, this coat came out very nicely, and I think it is good enough that I don't have to do a fourth coat.  

(Photos   taken 12/4/00)

galey-12700.jpg (35836 bytes)  stbsalonaft-12700.jpg (43908 bytes)  salonstb1-120400.jpg (45876 bytes)

Cabinet Doors and Caning

milliondoors1.jpg (62020 bytes)Cabinet doors:  I made about a million doors, more or less, to cover all the cubbies in the cabin that I thought were such a good idea when I cut them out.  Ha!  There's five doors for the settee backs, eight little doors for the cubbies above the settees, six more in the galley, and three larger doors in the head.  That's 88 pieces of wood needed!  I spent most of two  full working days cutting rails and stiles, gluing up the pieces, milling the roundovers and rabbets, and sanding everything to 220 grit.  The larger doors are made from 3/4" stock, joined at the corners with half lap joints.  I milled a 3/8" square rabbet around the edges, so they sit partially inset.  The doors milliondoors2.jpg (58008 bytes)for the upper settee cubbies and galley compartments would be too awkward and heavy if built from 3/4" stock, so I cut some 1/4" thicknesses (by 1" wide) and built the doors from that material.  I plan to install pre-manufactured caning in the openings, which will provide ventilation for the contents of the lockers.  We've dubbed the doors "Singapore Doors".  (Because of all the caning...)

After 30 or 40 years of sanding, I varnished the doors, using three coats:  2 coats of Epifanes gloss for a durable base and quicker build-up, and a final coat of Epifanes rubbed effect to match the rest of the woodwork in the cabin.

I ordered prewoven traditional caning and reed splines, and prepared the doors for the caning installation.  On the larger, thicker doors, I milled an 11/64" wide groove for the spline on all four edges, with two passes through the table saw blade, moving the fence slightly for the second pass.  The smaller, thinner doors (for the cubbyholes above the settees and galleys) don't contain enough wood to accommodate the spline, so I cut caning to size and simply glued it to the backs, using masking tape to clamp it in position.  The openings on these doors are small enough that stretching the caning is not a real problem.  This is an admittedly imperfect setup, but time will tell how these doors hold up.  Under the circumstances, it seemed the best option for the time being.

I installed the caning in the larger doors by first cutting the caning slightly oversize, then wetting it by briefly immersing it in water.  The installation involved pressing the cane into the spline grooves with a wedge (I made the mistake of not ordering dedicated caning wedges for this, so I improvised with several tools on hand--the most effective was a school-type protractor).  Once the caning was pressed into the groove, I applied a bead of glue and then hammered the spline into place with a rubber mallet.  I left the excess caning and spline overhanging until the glue dried, when I trimmed it off with a utility knife and wood chisel.  As the wet caning dried, it shrank somewhat, leaving a drum-tight surface.  The process went fast once I had figured out a few tricks to make it easier for me.

The larger doors--the ones in the settee backs and the head--are hung on 3/8" offset partially hidden hinges--standard kitchen-type brass ones.  I use a self-centering drill bit to drill pilot holes, and then attach the hinges to the door and the cabinet with brass screws.  I installed brass cabinet catches on the insides of the cabinets and doors to hold the door closed; these are screwed in place.  Solid brass knobs are secured with stainless screws.

The smaller doors were much more of a pain.  Because the wood frames are only 1/4" thick, with no rabbet, I couldn't use most traditional cabinet hinges.  I ended up with some miniature brass hinges, which I secured with tiny brass screws--even these I had to drive in at a small angle to make sure they wouldn't stick through the front of the doors.  Then, I screwed the other half of the hinge to the cabinets, after aligning the doors as necessary.  The door catches were another challenge--again, screws would have been too long, and would have come through the front of the door.  Therefore, I had to glue the catch to the inside of each door with epoxy, being careful to get the alignment just right with the corresponding section on the openings in the cabinets, which are screwed in place.  Tedious stuff to be sure.  Having all the doors installed really makes a difference in the cabin, though--it finally looks finished.  Time will tell how the small doors and salon-31201.jpg (53252 bytes)hinges hold up.  When I brought the doors out to the boat for installation, the caning on the small doors--which was not stretched as it was on the larger doors (with the splines)--loosened a bit.  It doesn't look terrible, but it is not what I had hoped for.  Maybe there will be some further work here after this sailing season-something to do next winter.

There are more doors in the galley area, which are pretty much he same.  However, the after two doors over the counter are sort of buried in the narrow space between the cabinets and the inside of the cockpit molding.  Because of this, traditional hinged doors would not work, so I installed little cleats on the bottoms of these two doors to hold the bottom in place, and the tops are held with the same cabinet catches as the rest of the doors.  The ugly wires hanging there in the photo are to the new knotmeter/depthsounder, and will be properly hidden once I run the transducer cables.  I hate visible wires!


We decided to cover the large ports with some cherry finish wood blinds.  Curtains never seem to work well, and the ports beg to be covered.  We ordered the custom blinds--54" long by 13" high.  They feature 1" wood slats.  I installed the blinds with some short screws into the liner, and modified the valance slightly by moving the attaching clips lower on the back so that the valance would sit up a little higher than normal, which suits this installation better.  To keep the blinds from swinging, I installed hold-down clamps at the bottom edge.  The blue crosses in the photo are tape over some epoxy-filled holes in the overhead for the sea hood installation.  Obviously, the tape will be removed later.

After nearly a year of construction since the initial application, the paint on the settees was pretty beat up, stained and scarred.  I applied one final coat of Bilgekote--which is what I originally used--to freshen it up.

Check out the new cabin sole here.


I covered the bulkhead at the aft end of the vee berth with satin white Formica (see head page for details on the process).  This will eliminate maintenance in the form of painting, and looks clean and fresh.  Some trim pieces are required to cover the gaps along the edges, which were applied after the fabric headliner is installed.

Follow this link to see the trim details on the inside of the forward hatch.



I milled a number of 1/4" x 3/4" mahogany trim pieces, with one edge rounded over with a 1/4" bit, and prefinished them with three coats of tung oil.   I used these pieces to cover all the rough edges and seams between the Formica-clad bulkhead and fabric liner in the vee berth.  I installed the trim with a combination of hot melt glue and #4 x 1/2" stainless screws, cutting the pieces to fit around the corners as I went.  It was easy to dab more tung oil on any cut ends or seams where the finish had been removed.  There is a teak fiddle (original) that will be installed over the raw plywood edge of the shelf in the photo, but it had not yet been installed when the photo was taken.

I also trimmed out some seams on the cabin trunk and overhead where I had been unable to avoid them during the installation of the fabric.  While a seamless appearance would have been nice, the finished mahogany looks good in place over the seams.

We are modifying the vee berth to make it a more comfortable and useful berth for the coastal cruising we plan.  The modifications include filling in the Vee and creating a couple storage drawers in the space created.



Filling in the vee was a simple matter of installing hardwood cleats on the old vee berth plywood and cutting a couple pieces of 1/2" plywood to fit the gap.  I cut this in two pieces, which will allow the aftermost piece to be permanently installed over the new drawers, while the forward piece, located immediately over the old seat, will be easily removable for access to the water tank beneath the seat.  As of this writing, the plywood is loosely installed as I continue work on the drawer concept.  To make the new filler pieces easily removable for access to the water tank, some valuable storage spaces, and the drawer frames, I will install some simple latches to hold them in place.

To begin the drawer frame construction, I installed a piece of cherry plywood, pre-cut with two openings, vertically at the end of the vee berth nearest the head.  I screwed some hardwood cleats to the surrounding cabinetry as necessary, and screwed the plywood to the cleats.  Then, I cut some oak strips to length and installed two sets of drawer runners--upper and lower.  There is another piece of oak along each outside edge of the runners to help contain the drawer, and a final piece above each drawer opening to keep the drawer from tipping when it is pulled out.  All these various pieces were screwed in place with stainless screws.  Note that the framework still allows access to the bilge hatch beneath, either through the lower drawer opening or by removing both drawers and the plywood v berth filler piece.

The size and construction of the drawer frames allows some small, trapezoidal storage areas on either side, outboard of the drawer units.  To access these, I will install the plywood top with latches of some sort. 

I installed trim pieces to cover the edges where the plywood front met the bulkhead, and a third piece at the top to cover the plywood end grain, and plugged any screwholes with bungs.  The blue tape in the photo is clamping the top trim piece on while the glue dries.  Note that the awful light blue paint on the oak deck beam supports will soon be gone, covered with fresh white.



I built two drawers of 12mm Baltic birch plywood, a multi-layer, void-free cabinet grade material.  I connected the four sides with simple rabbet joints, and installed the bottom in a dado cut near the bottom of each side and end piece.  I glued the assemblies together with waterproof glue.

When the basic boxes were made, I made two cherry drawer fronts, which I screwed to the boxes from inside.  After varnishing to match the other interior trim, I installed some brass handles.

Then, I finished up the varnish on the face frame of the cabinet, and installed the drawers in place.  The photo below shows the finished product.

The drawers were very handy for clothes storage, and swallowed quite a bit of material.  However, it looks like we're going to be removing the drawers to make way for a decent holding tank.  It will be easier to find storage room for clothes than for the stuff that goes into a holding tank.  I think that I can keep the look the same from the outside--I'll just remove the cherry drawer fronts from the boxes and install them in place on the face frame with some cleats screwed from the inside.  Or, if space and time allow, maybe I'll be able to build some little storage areas there or something.  See below for what I did.  


drawerframevee2.JPG (185934 bytes)To begin, I removed the drawers and unscrewed the solid cherry drawer fronts--six screws in each.  I put these aside for later use and removed the drawer boxes to my shop where they'll find eventual use.  Next, I started unscrewing the various pieces of the drawer frame and slides.  These are mostly just secured with stainless steel screws, but a few of the pieces were glued together--nothing that my  deadblow mallet couldn't handle.  I removed all the pieces--I had to drill two bungs out of the plywood face frame to remove the bottom two drawer runners, which I had screwed into.  I'll rebung these holes later.

Removal of all this paraphernalia left the space, once again, wide open and ready to accept the holding tank.   First, though, I milled a couple cleats out of some scrap lumber to secure the drawer fronts back in place.  For now, this is the easiest way to make it look like we never touched the area, and the false drawer fronts will still look good.  Future plans may include replacing the drawer fronts with a magazine rack--but that will come later.

I screwed through the cleat into the backs of the drawer fronts and into the bulkhead/compression posts on either side.  To make the braces fit tightly against the drawer and outer framing, I had to notch the ends of each piece, taking out about 1/4" of the thickness of the cleat.  With that, the drawer fronts were once again secured in place, and the openings are nicely finished off.  Conversion complete!  Or so it seemed...

UPDATE!  3/4/02  Well, I decided to build a magazine rack for the area where the false drawer fronts are.  Of course, this meant that I had to replace the plywood panel, so I removed the old one--I had to drill out the bungs and unscrew the panel from the front, plus I had to remove the cleats behind that were holding the false drawer fronts in place.  When all the screws were out, the panel came out easily.  I gave the panel, drawers, cleats, and drawer fronts to a friend for use in his Triton.

Next, I cut a new plywood panel to fit the opening, and finished it to match the rest of the interior woodwork.  Once the varnish was  dry, I installed the panel by screwing into it from behind--thus keeping any screw holes off the front, finished surface.  Don't ask me why I didn't install the original panel this way.   Who knows.  

Please click here to see the magazine rack.

Finally, I installed a piece of solid cherry trim at the top of the new panel to cover the plywood edge grain.  It was a piece I had left over from the main reconstruction project; it only required finishing, which I did in the shop beforehand.   I cut it to fit and notched the ends slightly to accommodate the vertical panel trim beneath, and installed it with three small screws.

vberthpaneltrim.JPG (149361 bytes)

vberthtrimstbbefore.JPG (166002 bytes)Because I removed the old door trim from the V-berth passageway at the beginning of the p roject, there was some exposed plywood end grain visible even during our first season--I just never got around to installing any trim.  I wanted some trim that would cover the 3/4" thickness of the plywood, as well as wrap around the corner to cover the Formica edge and help hold that in place.  It also needed to be of minimal imposition to the doorway, since the old trim was thick and substantially restricted movement in and out.  We got used to having no trim, and didn't want to really lose any space.  So, I needed some thin trim.  I milled the necessary pieces out of mahogany, and cut a deep dado that left about 1/4" of material remaining to cover the inside of the door opening.  I finished it with several coats of tung oil to match the other mahogany trim on board, and installed the two pieces with screws.





My wife, Heidi, did a great job building four cushions for the interior.  We chose a rich blue fabric from a local shop, and purchased 4" foam for the settee cushions and huge 6" foam for the vee berth.  I made patterns of the areas, which she then translated into beautiful cushions.  They look great, and really complement the interior woodwork (if I do say so myself).

Sorry--no detailed descriptions of the cushion-building process!

Here are some pictures of the finished interior...



Salon Port




Salon Starboard (looking aft)






Salon port (looking aft)





Vee berth 

Please click here to see the work related to finishing off that forward bulkhead, which I did in the spring of 2002 after living with it as is for one season.



Check out the completed interior for more photos.

Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

We recommend viewing this site with your screen resolution set to 1024 x 768 or larger.  Problems?  Email the webmaster.

1999-2014 by Timothy C. Lackey.  All rights reserved.  No duplication of any portion of this website allowed without express permission.  Permission may be obtained by emailing the webmaster.