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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Monday, April 13, 2015

The THINGS We Do for Art

Three semi-circles join straight edged framing
Larger to smaller arcs from inboard out

In a minimal interior, what you don't do is as important as what you do.
Nate Berkus

The THINGS We Do for Art

Moderation in all things, I suppose. In this case, I'm thinking of the balance between Quick 'n Dirty Git 'Er Done, and trim-works.

Trick is, not to get carried away.

Trim - in the broad sense of framing, cutouts and rounds - definitely purtifies a space. It delineates areas of paint and may eliminate taping. It helps with cleanup, and keeps spores from their corner crack strongholds.

We know of several builders of simple boats who whizzed through construction of hulls, decks, rig and gear, only to bog down in a jewel box interior. Drown in umpteen layers of varnish. Be brought low by dark, exotic woods, intricately molded and joined. These were their boats, and I applaud their results.

But me? Seems to me that complex interiors befit complex hulls; simple interiors for simple hulls. It seems a mere matter of proportional investment.

We select a few circular containers to trace, with radii that work well together (judgement call). There are only a few ways things come together in a square boat, and we'll use a given size for each, typical situation. If several arcs are present across a bulkhead, we'll use larger ones inboard, diminishing radius as we work outboard. A 3in radius or thereabouts - whether traced or cut with a hole saw - is convenient for the smallest.

There's nothing particularly practical about these standards. Larger radii provide bigger 'knees' between framing and therefore more structural support; something to keep in mind. But we have a pretty free hand.

Trick is, not to get carried away.

Rounding tool with 1/4in and 3/8in cutting ends

Finish rounding can be simple as well. We round corners with a 45deg sawcut, tangent to the desired arc,  and rasp smooth. Edges get rounded to a 1/4in radius with our handy dandy rounding tool (or rasp over endgrain). Sand smooth, and done.

Note: A router with a round-over bit is very fast, once set up, but we find that, given router set up time, we are often faster by hand. And lacking a router table, our handwork is often superior.

In a few cases, we may use a bit of molding to cover a raw join. Shim any carpentry voids and caulk (trim in a tube), with a small, finger fillet for ease of cleaning.

All this froo-froo lies along a very slippery slope. One can always go a bit further. Trade time for a higher level of perfection. Complexify. We raise the bar, here, and go back to rework there. Before you know it, things have gotten out of hand.

Trick is, not to get carried away.

Simple Effects
Ends are merely bedded and butted...
Ply backing provides knee strength

Straight cuts followed by rounding.
Note the caulk running along the sole lines.

In this case, trim serves as landings for platform panels (eg, fold down dinette)...
Longer, tapered ends and rounded corners save hang-ups and shin bark
Simple, lapped joints.

The good news is that these simple techniques can be relatively quickly combined to dress up the spare, box lines. Some of it is faux (unnecessary); added merely for looks. One could very easily do with even less and use paint to 'frame' the interior. But we like it.

Bad news is that even at this low level, vanity exacts a price. I figure we've spent nearly a quarter of our build time on aesthetics, compared to even simpler, trimless approaches. Yeesh! But we hope to cash in on years of pleasure in the contrast of oiled cedar and paint.

Whatever path you take, you'll likely find that a style of your own quickly evolves. Your boat will have a look that reflects your sensibilities in ways that 'classic' styles seldom do. If you build more than one, you may find that each have the feel of home.

Trick is, not to get carried away.


  1. Early on in my building I nearly fell for it. I started to give the bow transom a double curve! The decks curve have a purpose: they shed water better. But the forward curves were only going to "look better" than a flat transom. I lost about a day's before I came to my senses and scraped the forward curve! It is easy to get carried away!

  2. Hi Joel,

    Ah yes... the siren song of beauty lies in wait, ever ready to seduce the unwary. Stop our ears and bind us to the mast!

    Funny thing is, I often find that simple boats actually strike their own, handsome figure without the frippery. Something misses the mark when dressing up a good, honest workhorse as a prancing parade pony.

    But there's no arguing taste, either way.

    Dave Z