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

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Q&D Shelves

Wish I had a pretty little girl, 
I'd put her on a shelf, 
Every time she'd wink her eye 
I'd climb up there myself.
 -- Old Joe Clark

Quick and Dirty Shelves

Boats can have a lot of shelves in them, often in odd spaces. Over time, we worked out a formula that  lets us zip 'em out without a lot of head-scratching.

Basic idea is that a (plywood) shelf between walls (dividers, bulkheads, what-have-you) has a support rail attached along its lower, far edge, and a fiddle/support rail attached along its upper, near edge and overlapping the Cleats. 

Cleats are attached to the vertical walls at either end, with room for the support piece to slip behind with a little wiggle room. This locks the shelf against horizontal movement (may need screws if you anticipate tossing them vertically!).

Advantages include:

  • Quick, standardized construction
  • Easy installation and removal (for cleaning, painting, etc.)
  • Flexibility (can be adapted for size, loads, clearances)
  • Uses up a lot of smaller plywood offcuts
  • Relatively easy to go back and rework spacing, if desired (just move cleats)

If you wish to get a bit fancier, the fiddle can be rabbeted along its underside to cover the raw edge of the shelving material.

You can angle the far end of the cleats to a point... this allows the shelf to be lifted upward as if it were a lid, rotating around its far edge in contact with the points, until the support face fetches up against the angled cleat end (the sharper the angle, the higher you can lift the shelf). This can be useful in tight spaces where you need a little extra room to un/load the space below it. For example, a tote that fits snugly may need a little extra to clear fiddles and such along its near, lower edge.

We found that our locker openings don't let us insert full length shelves. We ended up cutting this type in two, mid-length, and putting a lip under one of them along the cut. A short, rabbeted piece is attached to the back wall, rabbet up, straddling the cut (also with a little wiggle room). The lipped side needs some support at the near, cut corner... we use twine attached to the next fixed point above it, rather than build struts. This approach has been much easier than installing a divider, and doesn't break the run of shelf length.

An idea to shelve away!


Bonus Tip:

Can't recall where I read of this, but could well be The Sailor's Sketchbook by Bruce Bingham, under 'removable fiddles'.

Another simple locking device is to make pegs that fit into matching holes. These can be made of wood or metal.

One cool way to do it is to drive a (bronze) screw in the peg location, burying the threads but leaving the shoulder exposed. Hacksaw the head off and smooth with a metal file to leave a protruding peg. Put the piece (shelf, removable fiddle, table, etc.) in place, over its supporting surface and tap over the screw with a hammer, denting the receiving surface with the exposed peg. Drill a (slightly loose) hole at that spot. If everything is done reasonably square, the peg slips into its hole, forming a sheer lock, preventing horizontal movement.

 Bonus, Bonus Tip:

A recent brainstorm is to use heat to flatten and shape PVC to form springs. A hole drilled through the PVC to match a peg forms a lock that can be released (sprung off the peg) with gentle pressure.

Works for door latches, removable step locks, drop down bin locks, hatch locks... spring shapes  and applications are limited only by the imagination!.

You can find lots of info on shaping PVC through sources like this one, drawn from the way-too-cool world of PVC bow-making.

1 comment:

  1. Simple, efficient, uses a lot of offcuts, makes a lot of sense. Thanks Dave.