V-Berth, Clothing Storage Shelf, Part 6: Painting the Shelf

The painted shelf
Having glued and screwed the mahogany fiddles to the clothing storage shelf for the V-berth of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, it was now time for me to paint the shelf with two-part, polyurethane paint. I began with some necessary prep-work, which involved the taping of the fiddles to protect them from the paint.
I also made sure to tape the thin piece of mahogany (the edge of the fiddle) that was visible on the underside of the shelf.
For this job, I used Pitthane, a product of Pittsburgh Paints. I've discussed Pitthane and my techniques for mixing it and applying it in, "V-Berth, Aft Locker, Holding Tank, Part IV," so I will not reiterate those points here. I'll simply say that it is a good product and far more affordable than any two-part polyurethane that is marketed as "marine grade" paint.
Note the paint thinner in the above photograph. When I had used this paint in the past, the weather had been hot - 90 plus degrees Fahrenheit. When I did this particular job, the weather was chilly, at least by Charleston, South Carolina standards. It was hovering just above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (which is the lower limit for this paint). I was concerned that if I added any thinner to the paint, then the open time for the paint would be too long. This would mean that the drying time would be extended, and it could mean that the paint would not cure properly as the temperatures on this afternoon and evening dropped down into the 40s. Therefore, I opted not to add any thinner. This turned out to be a good decision. I still had an open time of about two hours, just as I did when I used the thinner in the hot weather.
On this first afternoon, I devoted quite a bit of time to the painting of each and every ventilation hole. This took me about an hour. When I was finished, I used the remaining paint for several other pieces of wood (for other Oystercatcher related projects) on which I was working concurrently.
The next day, I flipped the shelf over and applied the first coat of paint to the topside.
The day after that, I came back and mixed up another pot for the second coat.
I relied mostly on a roller for the painting of this shelf.
It was, however, necessary to "cut-in," as they say, with a brush prior to using the roller. With this two-part paint, the trick was to work quickly and accurately. I cut-in with the brush (next to the fiddles) and then swiftly passed over my brush strokes with the roller. If I waited too long (as little as a minute or two) to roll the brush marks, then the paint would not lie down as well as it should. Yes, this paint had a long open time in the pot, but once it was spread thin, it would start to change its consistency quite quickly.
Of course, I could have thinned the paint just a little, and then used the roll-and-tip method, whereby I could have lightly stroked (with the brush) the rolled surface, thus creating a smooth, mirror-like finish on the surface of the wood. This was not, however, what I was going for, since this was for the interior of the boat. I wanted the surface to have an orange-peel consistency, so that this glossy paint would possess more of a matte finish. In the picture below, you see that this is what I got.
The next day, I took the shelf out into the yard and sanded the underside, so as to remove the brush marks and small ridges of paint that stood out around the many holes that I had earlier painted. I used 40 grit paper for this job, the same grade of paper that I use for sanding mahogany and epoxy.
Back at the work table, I wiped away all of the sanding dust with a rag soaked in the thinner.
Then it was time to mix up yet another pot of paint. At this point, I was transitioning to another A-B paint kit, having used up the previous one. This was my third kit in the refitting of Oystercatcher.

Shortly after I finished rolling the first coat, I noticed that I had not done as good a job as I thought I had done in the sanding of the brush marks and ridges around each hole. To the touch, it felt as if I had removed all of those ridges. To the eye, however, now that this glossy paint was on top, it was obvious that I had not.
One more day, one more pot of paint.
The second coat helped to conceal many of the brush strokes and ridges around those holes. Was it annoying that I could still see some of them? Yes. Was it worth doing this job all over again just to get rid of them? Not at this point in the game, especially since this was the underside of the shelf, and especially since I had many more pressing projects that remained in the refitting of this boat. Often, to the casual observer, such imperfections go unnoticed unless the author or possessor of the imperfections draws attention to them. Thus, maybe I should stop talking about them, and move on to other things. Does that sound like a good thing to do?
This ends this posting on how I painted the clothing storage shelf for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25. In the seventh and final posting, I describe how I stained and varnished the fiddles.

V-Berth, Clothing Storage Shelf, Part 5: Fiddles, Glue-Up

The fiddles, glued to the shelf
Having cut the fiddles to the proper length and to the proper angles, and having dry-fit them onto the shelf, it was now time for me to install them permanently with thickened epoxy. After removing the fiddles, I wiped down the shelf and the fiddles themselves with acetone, so as to remove all dust, oils, and any other contaminants that might affect the bond of the epoxy.
Then I mixed up some neat epoxy and wet-out the specific areas of the shelf.
Likewise, I wet-out the specific areas of the fiddles.

Next came the tricky part. I flipped over the shelf and supported it on its sides with two scrap pieces of wood. This allowed me to partially install the stainless steel screws into the pre-drilled holes. If you look closely in the picture below, you can see the screws.
Then, I thickened the epoxy with colloidal silica to the consistency of peanut butter and spread it on the fiddles.

I screwed each of the three fiddles into place while the shelf was in this inverted position. This was the only way I could do it. One hand for the drill, and one for the fiddle.
When I had finished, I flipped the shelf back over to its upright position, and then I started cleaning up the excess epoxy with acetone. It's much easier to do this than it is to sand off the excess after it has cured.

The next day, I came back, inverted the shelf once again, and filled the countersunk screw holes with thickened epoxy (that was left over from another project on which I was working). My purpose in doing this was to disguise the holes and thus make the work appear much more professional. Once I painted the shelf, no one would ever see these filled holes.
A couple of days later, after the epoxy had fully cured, I sanded off all of the excess that had accumulated in and around the filled holes.
I also sanded the edges of the fiddles to make them perfectly flush with the shelf.
Several days after this, I came back once again and spread some more left-over thickened epoxy into some of the divots that still remained here and there on this side of the shelf. Keep in mind that this was exterior, B-C grade plywood, not finish grade (for interior furniture). This was the C side of the wood. Accordingly, it had numerous imperfections on its surface.
A couple of days later, after the epoxy had fully cured, I came back and gave the shelf one final sanding. This part of the project was now complete.
This ends this posting on how I glued the fiddles to the clothing storage shelf for the V-berth of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25. In my next posting, I describe how I painted the shelf with two-part polyurethane paint.

V-Berth, Clothing Storage Shelf, Part 4: Cleats, Construction and Installation

The cleats, installed along the lower edges of the alcove box trim
Having constructed the fiddled shelf for the storage of clothing in the V-berth of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, it was now time to construct and install the cleats that would support this shelf.
If you've read my earlier article, "V-Berth Alcove Box Trim," then you'll know that I installed this mahogany trim not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for a practical one. From the very start, it had been my plan to construct a clothing storage shelf - one that would employ the alcove box trim to support it. In the picture below, you see that I have dry-fit the shelf in an effort to determine the size and placement for the cleats that I needed to install.
One thing that I immediately noticed was that the fiddles on the shelf prevented me from fitting the shelf firmly into place. The problem was that the ends of the fiddles were at a 90 degree angle and the alcove boxes were not. They, instead, canted inward. This meant that I needed to cut the ends of the fiddles to the appropriate angle. Before going any further, I'd like to point out the grain in the fiddle that is visible in this picture. Note that it has a gentle arch in it. I intentionally ripped this piece of mahogany and oriented it in this fashion to emphasize the curvature of the overhead of this space. For more on the curvature of the overhead and the curvature of this space, see my earlier article on the V-berth trim.
To help me determine the angle at which the alcove boxes canted inward, I cut a small piece of pine to small degrees at a time. Eventually, I discovered that the boxes cant inward at a 10 degree angle.
I also determined that the V-berth itself, in other words the port and starboard sides, are at a 20 degree angle. Earlier, when cutting the fiddles to fit the angle of the shelf, I had thought that they were at a 15 degree angle.
Therefore, the first thing I did was to alter the side angle of the forward fiddle from 15 degrees to 20 degrees (I did not alter the aft fiddle at this time, for reasons that will become clear as we move along). In the picture below I have already made the 20 degree cut. Note the pencil mark on the mahogany. At this point, I was preparing to make the 10 degree inward cut to account for the cant of the alcove box. I made this cut by keeping the 20 degree angle of the miter saw table just as you see it, while canting the saw blade itself inward by 10 degrees.
The table at 20 degrees.
The blade at 10 degrees.
In the picture below, we see that the fiddle now matches the shelf perfectly at 20 degrees. The 10 degree cant inward is not obvious due to the angle of this photograph.
Having cut the forward fiddle to its proper angles, my task now was to construct the cleats that would support the shelf. For these cleats, I selected several 3/4 inch thick scrap pieces of mahogany and cut them to 8 inches long by 3/4 inches wide. My plan was to have three cleats on each side. Notice that four of the cleats are much lighter in color. Normally, I would reject these flawed pieces, since they lack the reddish-brown color typical of mahogany, but I decided to make the most of them by incorporating their color into the overall design, as we shall see as we go along.
In the picture above and below, we see the router with the small, 1/4 inch roundover bit installed. I used this bit to soften the two outer edges of the cleats. This made them less imposing and more nautical in appearance.
I had to clamp each of the six cleats four times each - twice for each of the two outer sides. The reason? I could only rout half of each side at a time due to the smallness of the piece and the size of the router.
While I had each of the pieces clamped, I also hit them with the quarter-sheet sander. As always, I used 40 grit paper. This is the only grit that allows you to make any headway on this dense wood.
Below, we see all six cleats after they were routed and fully sanded. To me, they looked almost like loaves of bread.
Next, I drilled pilot holes for the stainless steel screws that would join these cleats to the mahogany trim on the alcove boxes. I didn't bother to countersink these holes, since I would be using finish washers for the screws. You can see one of the finish washers at the bottom of the picture below.
Next, I took the shelf out to the boat, so that I could get a good idea where I needed to install the cleats. The cleats could not be too high. Otherwise, they would cause the port and starboard sides of the shelf to encroach upon the cutouts for the alcove boxes. Note that, in the picture below, I have not yet cut the long fiddle on the aft end of the shelf to accommodate the 10 degree cant of the alcove boxes. I had postponed the cutting of this angle, because I wasn't yet sure if a 10 degree cant would look good on this fiddle. The cant was necessary on the forward fiddle. It wasn't necessary on the aft one, because slight variations in the cant of the alcove boxes allowed this end of the shelf to fit without the 10 degree cant.
Having determined the appropriate areas for the cleats, I got to work installing them.
In the picture below, we see all six cleats installed. If you look closely, you'll see that on each side I have installed the light colored cleats forward and aft. Between them are the single reddish-brown cleats. I thought this scheme looked attractive.
With the cleats having been installed, it was now just a matter of sliding the shelf into place. I could tell right away that the 90 degree angle on the aft fiddle did not look good. I would definitely need to alter this by 10 degrees.
Although it might not look like it in the picture below, the shelf was perfectly level, and I should note that the boat itself was perfectly level on the trailer.
Seen from the perspective of the hanging locker and the head, the shelf looked appropriate to the space in which it was situated, and it complemented the mahogany trim that I had earlier installed on the cabin trunk of the V-berth.
The shelf was level, port to starboard, but it was not level fore to aft, nor could it be; the alcove boxes had an upward sweep, which corresponded to the upward sweep of the deck as it approached the bow. This upward sweep made the aft fiddle on the shelf all the more important.
The shelf, when viewed from below, revealed the appropriately spaced cleats.
My final step for this stage of the project was to remove the aft fiddle from the shelf and cut it to its appropriate angles. I began with the 20 degree angle, which corresponded to the 20 degree angle of the port and starboard sides of the V-berth.
Then I canted the saw blade to 10 degrees to make the cut that would correspond to the 10 degree cant of the alcove boxes. In the picture below, you can see the canted blade (with its plastic protective cover).
After reinstalling the fiddle, I dry-fitted the shelf one more time. I thought the 10 degree cant on each side of the aft fiddle made the fiddle look much better than it had beforehand.
One more view from below.
This ends this posting on how I constructed and installed the cleats that would support the clothing shelf in the V-berth of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25. In the next posting I describe how I glued the cleats to the shelf with epoxy.