Galley, Sink Cabinet, Part 5: Construction of Small Shelf and Partitions

The partition for plates, bowls, and cups
Most cabinets on a boat, especially a sailboat, need some way of securing their contents from sliding to and fro. Some boat owners have constructed fiddles or other such rails on cabinet shelves, and some have used shock cord to hold the contents of cabinets securely in place. Still others have constructed partitions within the cabinets themselves to contain specific objects of known dimensions. Knowing that I wanted to store plates, bowls, and glasses in the sink cabinet of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, I decided to make a custom-sized partition integral to the structure of the cabinet. This posting, the fifth of twelve on the modifications I made to the galley sink cabinet of my boat, is focused on the construction of this partition. This posting does, however, also address the construction of a vertical partition that would serve as a massive fiddle of sorts. Additionally, it addresses the construction of a small shelf that would eventually house clean plastic storage containers (for the cold storage of food in the cooler).
Let's begin with the small shelf. In the second part of this ten-part article I discussed the plywood mock-up of the small shelf that I had hastily made for the purpose of determining the proper position for the main shelf. In the time that had passed from that sub-project to this one, I had lost track of that plywood mock-up. Consequently, I had to start over with the cardboard mock-up that you see below.
One thing I needed to determine, other than the proper size for the mock-up, was its proper position. Too low and it would hinder the storage of plates, bowls, and glasses on the main shelf. Too high and it would render the space above the small shelf unusable.
To help me determine the proper position of the small shelf, I began by experimenting with different arrangements for the plates, bowls, and glasses.
At this time, I was completely undecided on how I should best arrange the plates, bowls, and glasses on the main shelf and how I should use the space on the small shelf.
When I was more certain about the height at which the small shelf should be located above the main shelf, I cut a new mock-up out of a stiffer piece of cardboard. Notice that the new one is larger. I wanted to maximize the size of this small shelf.
As you see in the picture below, I was at this point thinking that I would store the plastic storage containers on the main shelf.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the small shelf would be a good location for the plastic storage containers. I also decided that the partitions on the main shelf should be as high as possible in order to keep the plates, bowls, and glasses from sliding. Note that the mock-up partitions consist of scrap pieces of wood stacked on top of each other.
I had made a good start in terms of figuring out the configuration of the partitions for the plates, bowls, and glasses, but before I could go any further I needed to think about a large, vertical partition that would seal off the cabinet from the storage space that now existed beneath it. As I said in my last posting, this lower area was connected to the lazarette by means of a corridor of sorts beneath the ice box (bottom right). I did not want any odors or gasses from the lazarette to make their way into this cabinet. This vertical partition would also serve to keep the contents of the cabinet from spilling out through the mahogany door that would eventually cover this hole.
What you see is a plywood mock-up. I also had to think about how I would secure the vertical partition. Thus the small cleats you see in the picture. I will say right now that I eventually decided to abandon the idea of securing this vertical partition with cleats. The cleats made things too complicated, especially in terms of the installation of the partition for the plates, bowls, and cups. I would secure the vertical partition with epoxy and cloth tape.
Another thing I needed to do at this time was to epoxy-coat the hole that I had earlier cut for the sink drain hose.
As always, I applied two coats and then sanded after the epoxy had cured.
While I was taking care of this sanding business I was also working on the vertical panel mock-up. This took much longer than I expected. Lots of trips in and out of the boat cutting one piece of cardboard, then another, and then modifying the mock-up to fit perfectly inside the cabinet. As you can tell, the final mock-up was in the shape of a parallelogram. The drops of water are not water. They're sweat. During most of the spring, summer, and fall in the Carolina Lowcountry it's hard to avoid being dripping-wet while working outdoors. The humidity is just a part of life here. I guess it's the price we pay for not having mild winters.
The mock-up, dry-fitted.
The real thing, dry-fitted.
It was at this time that I suddenly realized that I had not accounted for the hose that would run from the fresh water tank in the lazarette to the manual pump faucet at the sink. Therefore, I had to cut another hole. Did I have to epoxy-coat this hole twice and then sand it, even though I had just done this same damn thing to the other hole? No, I didn't have to, but I did it anyway. It's just the way I am. I want to do it right the first time.
Now that I had the vertical panel dry-fitted into place, I could think in more certain terms about how I should construct the partition for the plates, bowls, and glasses. The arrangement that you see below is essentially the one I ended up going with. Plates are outboard. Bowls are aft. Two glasses, i.e. Mason jars and one mug are forward. The two glasses are for the Admiral and me. The mug? It's for a visitor. The Admiral and I would keep our own coffee mugs in another location. I will explain my rationale for these decisions more thoroughly in another part of this multi-part article. One other thing . . . see the small slot at the back right? That was for the hoses.
Having settled on the height at which the small shelf should be located above the main shelf, it was time to install the small cleats that would support it.
After I had dry-fitted the cleats in place, I dry-fitted the small shelf and checked for level.
The small shelf was snug against the hull. I wanted to avoid contact, so as to prevent a hard spot on the hull. Therefore, I trimmed about half an inch off the outboard side of the shelf.
I liked the layout of the partitions I had created for the plates, bowls, and glasses. I did not, however, like the sharp edges on these pieces of clear-and-better grade southern yellow pine.
Therefore, I used the round-over bit on the router to give the top edges of the partitions a more welcoming feel. Note that I avoided routing those areas that would be joined. Here we see all four pieces as if they were joined together. No screws no glue at this point.
I joined all of these pieces using butt-joints. This was not ideal, but I knew that I would be using epoxy to glue them all together. I also knew that I would be applying fillets and cloth to each of the joints.
The task before me right now was the drilling of the holes for the screws.
I used the top of the table saw and the fence of the table saw to keep everything square.
Having finished screwing all the pieces together, it was time to see how it looked inside the cabinet.
The vertical panel really helped to define this space as a cabinet dedicated to tableware.
While I was at it, I experimented with a small spice rack that the previous owner had installed in the galley. I thought it didn't look too bad in this spot. I would later realize that this was an excellent location for something like this, insofar as it would help to keep the bowls (in the compartment directly underneath it) from slipping out.
Now it was time to do a little epoxy-work. Always helps to sand and clean the surface of the wood before laying down the epoxy.
The Admiral never knew that I used her glass table from the front porch as a work table. All my sawhorses were being used for other boat-related projects. I did the best I could do with what was available.
First coat of epoxy on the vertical partition.
First coat of epoxy on the new hole and on the small shelf.
First coat of epoxy on the partitions for the plates, bowls, and glasses.
Second coat.
Second coat.
Next day, flip side, first coat.
Flip side, first coat. You can see in this picture just how much the first coat of epoxy is absorbed by the wood.
Flip side, second coat.
Flip side, second coat. The gloss is a good indicator that the surface of the wood has been fully saturated with epoxy.
A day or two later, after the epoxy had cured, I assembled all the pieces for sanding.
Sanding cured epoxy is a repetitive, time-consuming task. It is my least favorite part of boat work.
The various pieces after they had been fully sanded.
Now it was time to join the partitions for the plates, bowls, and glasses permanently.
I began by cleaning the joints with acetone.
I then wet each joint with neat epoxy to improve adhesion.
With colloidal silica I thickened-up the epoxy to a peanut-butter consistency and then spread it on each joint.
I then joined each piece together with the stainless steel screws.
There was still a little thickened epoxy that remained. This I used to create fillet for each joint. These fillets would not only strengthen the joints, but also they would seal them.

Over each fillet I laid strips of six ounce cloth that I had pre-cut prior to my mixing of the epoxy.
Notice the scrap piece of wood I inserted between two of the partitions. I did this to ensure that they remained square during the curing process.

Several days later I came back and sanded the cured epoxy.
I used three different tools for this job. The first two were the quarter-sheet sander and the Dremel with a sanding drum attachment.
The last tool was the Rockwell Sonicrafter. Each of these tools had their virtues. I couldn't have done this job in a timely fashion without all of them.
The finished partition assemblage for the plates, bowls, and glasses.
Having constructed the small shelf and the partitions, it was now time for me to install the small shelf and to seal the joints that still remained between the panels and the other parts of the cabinet. How I approached these tasks is the subject of part six of this ten-part article.

This ends this end Part 5 of this multi-part article on the modifications I made to the sink cabinet of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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