building a plate rack from teak - SailNet Community

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Old 10-08-2010
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building a plate rack from teak

I was thinking I'd like to build a simple rack for the plates in my galley that could mount on the aft bulkhead. I'd like to buy some teak scraps from a local boat yard so it could be low-cost.

I'm thinking take a small flat piece, say 2"x12"x3/8" and some small strips, about 1/4"x1/4"x12", and glue the strips to the flat piece lengthwise, so I get grooves. Repeat 3X, then assemble the three sides in a U shape (grooves facing inwards), tying the open top of the U together with another strip across the "front". Voila, plates can slide into the grooves from the top and be secure. Any problems with the design?

Now the hard parts... what do I need to know about working with teak? I've got some woodworking experience, but mostly with pine. Are there any special considerations when cutting/drilling it? I have simple hand tools and a circular saw, drill, and speed saw (I think that's a brand name. it's sorta like a dremel, but used to cut things like holes for outlets in drywall). I live on my boat now, so my shop facilities consist of the cockpit The adhesives I have on hand are standard wood glue and 3M 5200 -- which would be better, or do I need something else? Should I get some small stainless steel tacks/finishing nails to hold my strips down, or would glue be sufficient? My "clamp" will probably be the latest box of stuff from Defender set down on top of the glued parts

How should I attach it to the bulkhead? It seems my choices are glue and screws (through another cross piece on the "back", which I'd rather not add since it makes the unit thicker). Is there another alternative? If I go with glue, should I sand off the varnish on the bulkhead where I'm trying to glue? That thought alone might make me go with screws... Also, if I want to varnish my new plate rack, how would you recommend I match the bulkhead color? Is varnishing a good idea?

Thanks for any help any of you can provide. I'm kinda hoping Maine Sail will stop by and bestow some of his woodworking wisdom... I've been very impressed with his videos.
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Good on ya for taking the plunge on DIY -- it will soon occupy much of your time, effort, and at times money

I can't really offer definitive advice on your specific project, but will try to give you some feedback from my experiences rebuilding our baby. Many projects were done while completing the Loop, so I can fully appreciate using the cockpit as a workshop.

I'm having a hard time visualizing your design, so no thoughts there.

"Now the hard parts... what do I need to know about working with teak?"

Nothing mystical about teak. It's a harder wood than pine, but it's still wood ('tho a lot more expensive.) Something to keep in mind is that teak's an oily wood, so always give it a good rub with acetone before you apply any finish -- if you don't, the finish won't get a good bite on the wood and it will fail prematurely.

Small hand tools work fine. I can't think of anything I'd want to use the Roto-Zip for, though. Likewise, the circular saw's likely overkill. If you don't have one, a sabre/jig saw is worth the modest investment. The Dremel's a pretty verastile tool, and with the right bits/attachments can produce decent results. I took the plunge and got a Fein MultiMaster -- still amazed by how much time/effort/aggravation that baby saves me.

"The adhesives I have on hand are standard wood glue and 3M 5200 -- which would be better, or do I need something else?"

For interior work, regular wood glue will work but is not a great choice. I keep a small bottle of Gorilla glue and a bottle of 3M Titebond III aboard. Both are waterrpoof glues that are easy to work with.

BTW -- 5200 is a poor choice for any wood project. It's also a very questionable choice for ANYTHING ELSE aboard... I used it once (and only once) to glue some wood blocks onto a piece of scrap plexi to make a cheap long board when fairing the bottom of my hull. Worked great, but I knew I was going to toss it away soon.

"Should I get some small stainless steel tacks/finishing nails to hold my strips down, or would glue be sufficient? My "clamp" will probably be the latest box of stuff from Defender set down on top of the glued parts "

Invest in some cheap clamps -- C-clamps at a couple of bucks a pop are a great deal. They come in handy, and don't take up much room.

"How should I attach it to the bulkhead?"

Unless there's no other alternative, use fasteners instead of glue. It will be much easier to refinish it if you can take it down to sand/clean/finish. Nothing's ever permanent on a boat, so the easier it is to remove the more ahead of the game you'll be.

"Also, if I want to varnish my new plate rack, how would you recommend I match the bulkhead color? Is varnishing a good idea?"

If your bulkhead's teak, your new piece should match it close enough without any additional work on your part. You can check it by wiping the unfinished wood with mineral spirits to see what the finished color will be. If it's too dark for your liking, bleach it with a two-part bleach or oxalic acid.

For an interior finish, polyurethanes are more than sufficient. I usually use either Minwax Poly or Minwax Helmsman Spar Poly. Regardless of your preferred finish (gloss, semigloss, or satin), always use gloss for your base coats.


Good luck!
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I'd add that teak wood dust is pretty nasty stuff for your lungs, so wearing a good respirator mask, like a 3M 6000 series, is key. The "disposable" paper masks are close to useless for most boat projects, and I'd recommend investing in a good cartridge-type respirator mask. I prefer and recommend the full-face ones—since they're more comfortable and afford you more protection than goggles and a half-mask respirator. They're a bit more expensive but they last a long time if cared for properly.
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