V-Berth, Cabin Trunk and Overhead, Trim

The overhead trim soon after its installation
Trimwork is a sign of style and sophistication, and in almost every project that I have undertaken on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, I have sought to add a touch of class to areas that were previously ignored or neglected by the first two owners. Some might say that the addition of trimwork to a boat, especially in a space such as the V-berth, is a waste of time. These utilitarian minded ones are likely the same sort who would find art or craftsmanship itself a waste of time, so I will let them be, in order that that they can focus on their more prosaic pursuits, and in order that I myself can focus on the steps I took to add this trim to my boat. Having earlier created mahogany trim, both for the overhead and for the portlights in the main salon, this project in the V-berth was not overly difficult. It was, though, one that required a fair amount of patience and a lot of attention to detail. Without further ado, therefore, let us turn our minds toward this subject.
I began, as I almost always do, by making a mock-up. In the picture below, you can see that I have taped pieces of wood to the cabin trunk in the V-berth. I thought it would look good to trim this large white area. For one thing, it would help to define this space. It would also complement the trim that I earlier installed on the cabin trunk in the area around the portlights.
Initially, I thought I could get away with making a rectangular box of sorts. There were two  problems to this approach. First, the area was not rectangular in shape; it was trapezoidal. Secondly, there was a gentle curve in this trapezoid, which defied all my attempts to neglect it by using straight pieces of wood.
Therefore, I began to experiment with different curved trapezoidal configurations.
I sketched a couple of ideas, and then made a couple of cardboard mock-ups.

Content with the curved strip of cardboard that I had cut and fit into place, I transferred this cardboard pattern to a piece of scrap wood. Ignore the cut-out in the wood. That is from another project. Inside the cut-out you'll notice a thin piece of wood. I used this piece of wood to help me scribe the arc that you see in pencil on the right. This was not the first time that I had used this thin piece of wood for this purpose. I would brace the piece of wood against my leg, then bend it with one hand while I scribed the arc with another. Sounds primitive, doesn't it? Well, maybe so, but this technique served me well not only this time, but many others as well.
All that was left were two careful cuts with the jigsaw.
Now I could go dry-fit this scrap wood mock-up.
The dry-fit revealed that my partial cardboard mock-up had been inaccurate. I had though that an arc with a 1 inch rise would be correct. I marked the scrap wood mock-up below to remind myself that this piece with the 1 inch rise was in fact incorrect.
Then I cut a new scrap wood mock-up with a 1/2 inch rise. This one was correct.
Now it was time to cut the real thing out of mahogany. For more on the material that I used for this trimwork, see my article, "Main Salon, Overhead, Trim," or refer to the Label "Southern Lumber," on the homepage of this website.

After I finished the first cut, I sanded out the irregularities with the large sanding block you see pictured below. I had constructed this block out of a scrap piece of a 2 x 4 and a piece of paper intended for a drum sander for hardwood floors. This block dated to the time when I created a new centerboard for my boat and needed something this size for the fairing of the foam when shaping the board. The block proved to be very helpful then, and very helpful in other projects as well.
Not bad, I thought for free-handing it with a homemade sweep and a jigsaw.
It fit just right.
Then it was time to cut the second one.
Cutting the inner side of the arc was the most challenging part. It required some careful clamping.
Finished with both curved pieces, I installed them to see how they would look.
I thought they added a lot to the appearance of the interior of the boat, and I contemplated leaving them just like they were, without adding any corner pieces or side pieces to the composition.
 Not content, however, to leave them alone, I began to experiment with some cardboard mock-ups.
Unsure whether to proceed and how to proceed, I decided to focus on the trim that I planned to install in the overhead area of the V-berth.
I began by making mock-ups out of paper. I decided to start with the corner pieces, since these would be the anchors for the design. Just as was the case with the other space in the V-berth, this space was trapezoidal in shape. This meant that the corner pieces here, unlike those I had earlier created for the portlights, could not be square. Below we see one of the corner pieces from the trimwork for the portlights. I used it to help me scribe the curves on the sheet of paper, which would serve as a cheap and easy mock-up for the overhead space.

The paper mock-up fit well, so I moved forward with the creation of the final pieces. Given the cost of mahogany, I don't throw any scrap pieces away, unless they are far too small to be of any use whatsoever. For these first two corner pieces, I made use of a scrap piece from a cut-out I had earlier made in the trim for the Garmin GPS.
I pre-drilled the holes in the corner pieces to make installation easier.
Back in the boat, I screwed each piece into place.

Then, I cut the curved piece that fit between the two corner pieces. The arc in this curved piece, just like the arc in the two pieces on the cabin trunk had a 1/2 rise.
Now, more than ever, I realized that the trim on the cabin trunk would look incomplete without corner pieces.
I was focused now, though, on the overhead trim, so those corner pieces for the cabin trunk would have to wait. The corner pieces that I needed to make right now were those for the forward end of the overhead.
Since the shape of this forward end was different, I had to create another paper mock-up.
After getting the mock-up to just the right size, I transferred the pattern to another scrap piece of mahogany.
Next, I focused on the side pieces. Originally, I had thought the sides of the overhead of the V-berth were straight. I don't know why I thought this, because from past experience I should have known that almost nothing on a boat is straight, even though it might appear to be. No, the sides of the overhead were in fact curved, and this meant that yet again I had to make those tedious curved cuts in the thin pieces of mahogany.
Again I made use of the large sanding block. The benefit of this block is the consistency it brings to the edge of the wood. No small block could do this. No electrical sander could do this.

I should point out that I paid close attention to the grain of the wood when scribing the arc. Note that the ribbon stripes of the mahogany accent the curvature of the piece.

It was all coming together quite nicely.
In order to document the curvature of the overhead, I climbed into the V-berth headfirst and took a few pictures.
Soon after this, I would cut the small piece of mahogany that would bridge this small space you see pictured below. No one will probably ever notice this but me, but I cut these corner pieces so that the grain of the mahogany corresponded to the fore-to-aft orientation of the side pieces.

Now it was time to get to work on the corner pieces for the trim I had already installed on the cabin trunk of the V-berth.
After I had created paper mock-ups of the appropriate shape, I laid out these patterns on yet another scrap piece of mahogany.
As I said, I try to make the most of every scrap piece. This one yielded all four corner pieces.
Again, the large sanding block was handy, even on these small pieces.

The Dremel, with a sanding drum attached, easily removed the burn marks left by the saw blade in the curved areas of the corner pieces.
The four corner pieces, ready for installation. Notice that the bottom pieces are slightly larger than the top ones. I did this on purpose, in order that the foundation, so to speak, of the trapezoid would appear more substantial.
My first task was to figure out how to cut the existing curved pieces to make them accommodate, in an agreeable manner, the corner pieces.

I decided that I would use the same technique that I had used elsewhere in the installation of this type of trim in the boat. I would make the ends of the side pieces of the design mimic the curvature of the corner pieces.
This would accentuate the curves of the side pieces and would thus make the entire design less boxy and more nautical.

Notice that the grain of the corner piece accentuates the grain of the curved piece and thus contributes to the curved appearance of the entire design.

Satisfied with the direction in which this project was moving, I then installed the lower corner pieces.

Now it was simply a matter of adding the small side pieces.

It was at the point that I went back and added that little piece that I had never installed at the forward end of the overhead in the V-berth.
All in all, I thought the new trim on the cabin trunk in the V-berth did much to connect that space stylistically with the space that I had earlier trimmed in the main salon.
As far as the overhead trim was concerned, I thought it made this space a lot more cozy looking.
This ends this article on my creation and installation of trim for the cabin trunk and overhead of the V-berth of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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