Small Projects:  The Fun Stuff
This page was last updated on 19 April 2002

Magazine Rack     Cutlery Stowage & Knife Block     Compass Back Cover     Pencil Rack

Magazine Rack

Because of our new holding tank in the space beneath the vee berth, I had to get rid of the two drawers I had built there last year.  This left the question of how to deal with the old drawer openings.  At first, I thought that I would just install the drawer fronts there permanently--in fact, I went so far as to actually do it.  (See how here.)  Then Heidi said, "You know what would be great there:  a magazine rack".  I had to agree, but thought I would probably put it off for a while--other priorities and such, donchaknow.

Well, that attitude lasted all of a week before I decided that we just couldn't live without the magazine rack.  Of course, installing it means that I'll have to redo the plywood panel beneath the vee berth, as the old drawer openings are too wide for the rack to cover.  I won't remove the old until I have the new all made and ready to go.

I could, however, go ahead and build the magazine rack.  It really is a simple affair:  three pieces of 3/8" thick cherry (resawn from a piece of 7/8") and a piece of 1/4" cherry plywood for the front.  The inside dimensions are about 9-1/2" wide by 9" high.  This allows a little spare room inside, and will ensure that even extra wide glossy magazines will fit without a problem.  The 9" height allows the title of the magazine to be seen over the top of the rack.  The rack is about 3-1/2" deep, which will limit its contents to a dozen magazines or so.

piecesformagazinerack.JPG (167269 bytes)The plywood  face is set into a dado on the front edges of the side boards.  Originally, this was going to be a nice flush installation, but a milling error screwed up that idea.  Rather than throw out the wood, I changed my idea a bit and decided to use some trim to cover the seam instead.  The plywood comes down till it is even with the bottom; to allow the rack to be cleaned if necessary, I drilled three 3/4" holes in the bottom with a Forstner bit.  The rack is also wide enough to get a hand into if necessary.  I formed a slight radius on the top edges to prevent any corners from being exposed in the finished product.
magazinerackclamped.JPG (160799 bytes)With the four pieces cut to size, I glued them up with water resistant yellow carpenter's glue.  Then, when the glue dried, I cut and fit trim pieces around the sides of the front and glued them in place.  I let this cure for a couple hours, then removed the clamps and sanded everything smooth.

magazinerack.JPG (103832 bytes)The completed magazine rack looks pretty good.  I varnished it with three coats of varnish (the last being satin varnish) to match the interior trim.

After I installed the new plywood panel to replace the old drawer front panel, I had to install the magazine rack before the holding tank got installed.  This is because I wanted to install the magazine rack with screws from the back side, and that area would be inaccessible once the holding tank was installed.

I aligned the rack in the place I wanted it, centered from side to side and a little closer to the top of the panel than to the bottom, and marked the outline of the sides on the panel.  Then, I drilled holes from the front of the panel, keeping the holes in the center of the outlined area.  From the back (forward) side, I then created a small countersink with a larger drill bit.  I did this because the only screws I had small enough to screw into the delicate 3/8" thickness of the magazine rack sides were only 3/4" long.  I drilled about halfway through the 1/2" plywood with the larger bit.  Then, holding the rack carefully in place and using a smaller bit again, I drilled a pilot hole into the back of the magazine rack sides--3 holes per side.  Then I installed the rack with #6 x 3/4" screws.

Project complete!

Cutlery Stowage and Knife Block

I have a great book--Ferenc Mate's The Finely Fitted Yacht, Vol. I & II.  This book is chock full of little ideas for all parts of the boat--storage things, on-deck solutions, etc.  I love the book (Mate has a wry sense of humor that comes out in his descriptions...), and decided to build a few of the projects he describes, modified to suit my own needs.  The magazine rack above is very loosely based upon one in his book--although mostly for size rather than execution.

One of his ideas is for a small cutlery rack that can be mounted out of the way somewhere on a bulkhead.  Since there really aren't any good stowage options for cutlery on the Triton (last season we kept ours in a plastic tray on the counter), I though this would be a neat project.  Of course, as I got into it I realized that it was no simple job.

The unit as he describes it features a solid block at the rear in which the butter knives are stored.  Then, there are four small vertical compartments at the front for storing the forks, salad forks, teaspoons and soup spoons.  The whole thing is only 7" x 7" x 3-1/2".

The tricky part comes in making the solid block to hold the knives at the rear.  I started cutting some 1-1/2" cherry that I had around and then realized that I somehow needed to get slots cut into it for the knives.  Mr. Mate has a description elsewhere in the book of a knife storage block, and I used his method for cutting the slots in this block as a guide for my process for the cutlery rack.

piecesforknifeblock.JPG (152483 bytes)First, I had to glue up some panels from 7/8" cherry stock.  I made two small panels, each just over 7" square, from 3" wide boards (3 pieces per panel), and edge glued them.  When the glue dried, I trimmed them down to exactly 7" on a side and sanded them smooth, leaving me with two blank panels. 

Next, I moved on to cutting slots for the knives. Because we only have five butter knives with our set (a sixth was lost somewhere), I planned only five slots for the knives.  This left enough room to store three kitchen knives as well:  a ceramic chef's knife, a ceramic paring knife, and a standard bread knife.  I spent some time laying out the spacing and sizes for the grooves that I would cut.  For the butter knives, at Mate's recommendation, I planned to make the slots wide enough to accommodate part of the handle as well as the blade; for the kitchen knives, only the blade would be inserted.  This meant 1/8" slots for the three kitchen knives, and just over 3/8" slots for the butter knives.  I was careful in my spacing to leave enough room between knives for the thickness of the handles and some extra, too.  There was plenty of room in the 7" width.

Then, I began cutting the slots at my table saw.  Starting with the standard blade (which is about 1/8" thick), I milled three grooves (one for each of the kitchen knives) in each panel.  The groove in each panel is 1/2 the depth of the knife blade in question; when the two panels are joined together like a book, the grooves match up and be the proper size for each knife blade.

I replaced the standard blade with a dado cutter stacked to 3/8" thickness and milled the grooves for the butter knives next.  For each cut, I measured from the edge of the board to the side of the groove and set the saw fence accordingly.  When a test fit with a butter knife revealed that the slots were a little tight, I widened each groove slightly with an extra pass through the saw.  In the end, I had two grooved knifeblockedge.JPG (158308 bytes)panels as you see to the right.  Bringing them together forms a block with the grooves captured on the inside.


The photo below shows the block mocked up, with all the knives stored inside for illustration.

cutleryrackclamped.JPG (143825 bytes)I glued up the block with yellow carpenter's glue (type II), being careful to keep the slots aligned and to not get gobs of glue in the slots.  I left the block to dry overnight before unclamping.

dividergroovescutleryrack.JPG (179548 bytes)When the block had been dried overnight, I removed the clamps and moved on to the next several steps.  The first thing to do was to mill three dados for the small divider pieces that will form the four cutlery storage areas in the front of the rack.  I measured them off evenly and marked the inside of the block accordingly, and then milled the grooves with the dado cutter in my table saw.  Each groove took two passes to get the correct width, which was something over 1/4".

gluingdividerscutleryrack.JPG (158914 bytes)Next, I mocked up the two sides of the box--featuring cherry boards that extend back to cover the sides of the knife block, and then extend forward about 1-1/2" or so.  This allowed me to determine the needed depth of each divider.  With the proper depth figured out, I ripped my rough divider pieces to the proper width in the saw, and glued them in place.

cutleryracksidesglued.JPG (170820 bytes)When the glue dried, I clamped on the two full-width side pieces.  This little thing is certainly a multi-step, time-consuming project!  But it will be cool.  When the sides were dried, I cut to size and glued on the bottom of the rack.

cutleryclampedup.JPG (142468 bytes)Now I moved on to the front of the rack.  Because the two central compartments are designed to house the small forks and spoons, a cutout in the front is necessary to allow them to be picked up.  Laying out my glued-up front panel carefully, I marked the extent of the cutout, and made the cut with my jigsaw.  Then, I marked the center divider and made an angled cut with a coping saw to avoid having it stick up awkwardly above the central cutout.  With these cuts made, I cut the front panel to the proper dimensions, sanded both sides smooth, and glued it to the front, using many clamps to hold everything in place.  I left the clamps on for some time to ensure proper adhesion.

When the glue was kicked, I sanded everything smooth and finished the piece with several coats of varnish, the last being rubbed effect to match the rest of the cabin.  I installed it on the aft bulkhead above the galley--about the only place I could find for it--with two screws drilled carefully through the solid block in the back of the rack, in between knife slots.  I'd rather have some more screws holding it up, but where to install them???  

Compass Back Cover

So you have your nice interior all set, and you're proud of it.  Then you go and cut a gaping hole in the rear bulkhead for a compass, which then forever looks terrible from inside the boat.  Some sort of cover seems like a necessity.  In this picture, it's that ugly black thing protruding from the even-uglier hole on the right side of the photo.

A simple wooden box, hinged at the side, can be a good solution. I built a basic open-fronted box of 7/8" cherry stock, with rabbeted corner joints.  To close off the front of the box, there are a few options.  I would like to get a nice decorative tile (8" x 8") to place in there for a little accent; the tile could be changed on a whim by opening the box and removing whatever method of securing it is in place. (To be determined).  Or, one could insert a small photo, or watercolor, or whatever.

Here is the basic box, glued up and sanded, but not finished.  The inside opening is 8" by 8", and the overall depth is 2-1/2".  





To continue the box construction, I next had to come up with a way to secure any tile or panel inside the box so that it could be inserted or removed at will.  To accomplish this, I milled some solid cherry into a 1/2" radius corner bead on my large router table and table saw.  Then, cutting pieces to fit with miter joints at each end, I glued the trim inside the box, leaving it flush on the face side.  This creates a bearing surface for the insert to rest upon from the inside, and also trims off the edge of whatever that insert is/will be.  I used a million clamps to hold the pieces in place while the glue dried.


When the glue was dry, I sanded everything smooth with 120 and 220 grit paper.  For now, I cut a 1/4" insert panel out of cherry plywood to fit inside.  When we find something else nice to put in there, we will replace it.  To hold the panel in place, I added some simple wooden cleats on the inside, which are screwed in place.  I varnished the box to match the interior woodwork with two coats of gloss varnish and then a final coat of satin varnish on top.

I installed the compass box cover with two brass hinges, and held it in place with a 2" brass latch.

Project complete!  If we change the insert, we'll post a new picture here.

Pencil Rack

This is a silly project, again copied from The Finely Fitted Yacht.  I followed the directions almost exactly, and my own experience is detailed here--although this ends up being a sort of paraphrase of the directions in the book.

 To make this two-piece rack, I started with a 2" wide, 7/8" thick, and 8" long piece of solid cherry.  With the piece on edge, I marked a centerline, then marked for holes every 3/4" on center, from each end towards the center.  At the center, in the remaining 2" of space, I marked for one final hole directly in the center.

I inserted a 3/8" drill bit in my drill press, and set the depth control so that I would drill 1-3/4" into the wood.  Then I drilled all the holes.  Next, I marked the center of the board (across the 2" width), accounting for the kerf of the saw blade, and ripped the board into 2 equal pieces.  Voila!  A pencil rack!  I sanded each piece and rounded the ends, and drilled two screw holes in each piece for attachment.  After three coats of varnish to match other interior components, I hesitated for a while before installing it, as I didn't know the best place for it--or even if I would find a suitable place.  After a time, however, I found the spot--on the longitudinal bulkhead above the starboard settee, sort of inside the nook created near the bookshelves.  Four screws, and the installation was complete.  Pretty slick!  

You may chuckle at the ridiculousness of this...but I'll have the last laugh when I can conveniently reach for a nice sharp pencil, while you're digging through God knows where for a greasy stub...  

Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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