Sunday, May 22, 2016

Phoenix's New Cabin Sole Part 1: Custom Milling

Phoenix isn't the first boat Bill's built. When he purchased our previous boat -- Meandrous -- nearly 20 years ago, it was essentially a bare hull that came equipped with lots of the parts, but nothing was assembled and there were no instructions.

Meandrous came with a trove of teak lumber, much of which was 3/8" thick, custom milled tongue and groove boards in 6-8' lengths. There was enough lumber for Meandrous' interior, and we've been using the leftovers to outfit Phoenix's interior as well.

One of the last major woodworking projects to complete on Phoenix was the cabin sole. We believe at one point in time she had a teak or mahogany sole, but by the time we got her, all of the floorboards had been replaced with marine plywood.

We'd been vacillating about how we wanted to finish the flooring, and one major concern was whether or not we had enough tongue and groove teak to complete the job. After measuring, counting boards and doing some calculations, we determined that we could probably do the head, forward and aft cabins but we didn't have enough for the the entire job. So it was time to get creative.

We thought about augmenting the teak with holly, but it's hard to find clear holly lumber in our area without a lot of knots. We looked at the thermal expansion characteristics of many species of wood, and toyed with using ash lumber. However, Maryland and the Midwest were recently hit with ash borer disease, making this lumber very difficult to come by. We found that we could get clear white oak from a local saw mill at an extremely reasonable price, so finally our decision was made. We bought several 5/4 6"x16' flat sawn white oak boards for the job.

White oak is more thermally stable when quarter sawn, and it exposes the really cool ray flecks in the wood, so the plan was to augment the teak boards with strips of quarter sawn white oak. We planed the 5/4 boards until they were ~7/8" thick, ran one edge through the joiner to give a true, straight edge, and then Bill used the table saw with a thin kerf blade to cut each 6" board into several ~1/2" thick strips. 

Raw 5/4 white oak boards ready for the planer

White oak planed and ready to but cut into quarter sawn strips
Bill checking each board for thickness before cutting into strips
White oak quarter sawn strips for our cabin sole
He then ran each strip through the planer until they were 3/8" thick. We had hoped to be able to use a router to cut the tongue and grooves; however, most tongue and groove router bits were designed for 3/4" boards rather than 3/8", and none matched the tongue and groove of our teak. Bill determined that our teak had a 1/8" tongue/groove, so he could use the table saw with a standard blade rather than a router. Each strip had one center pass to make the groove, and two passes on the opposite length for the tongue.

Finally, we ran the teak boards through the planer to clean up their faces, and the lumber was all prepped and ready for installing. We created a TON of sawdust in the process, but nothing in comparison to what we had in store for us with the installation!

Had to wear lots of protection to prevent getting sensitized with all of the wood dust!

No comments:

Post a Comment