Boat Carpentry at the Floating Boatyard
This article talks about some of the projects where boat carpentry comes into play, such as interior fit-outs, fitting new doors and stern decks. We offer a boat carpentry service from our floating workshop boat. Our skilled team can help you with those boat carpentry jobs which are just plain awkward to carry out without workshop space. We are fully licensed by the C anal and River Trust, carry full public liability insurance and have all necessary environmental risk assessments in place.
Contact us on 07886 388 689 to speak to us about your projects and book a free consultation.
Fitting new doors
Many older narrowboats built for leisure purposes and later converted to liveaboards have wooden doors fore and aft on the cabin. These are relatively straightforward to fabricate and are an attractive feature, if they are in a good condition. Their useful lifespan is dependent heavily on how well you maintain them. As with everything on your boat, it is important that you keep them protected with paint or varnish. We recommend sanding and varnishing or painting every couple of years. Do this as soon as the existing coating looks dull or tired.
As the doors are exposed to the elements, we fabricate them from strong hardwood or marine plywood. Marine ply will weather rain, wind, snow and bright sun much better than any other kind of composite board. We recommend that marine ply is the only composite wood you or your boat carpenter use on your boat. Any other kind is simply not up to the job in a marine environment.
Every boat builder has built their boats to slightly different specifications, with hatches and doorways varying in size. There is, therefore, no off the shelf solution to new doors for your boat.
New doors fitted on a narrowboat.
Interior Fit Out
With sailaways fast becoming a common way to get a brand new narrowboat or widebeam, many people are taking on the job of interior fit out themselves. While there are some arguments to be made regarding the cost efficiency of self fit- out, if you are not personally already very experienced in working on boats it will save you time, expense and hassle if you speak to experienced boat fitters such the Floating Boatyard. We have worked on a great number of boats and have seen what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to interiors. We also see which designs stand the test of time and are easy to maintain, and what falls apart after a couple of years of use.
Wood is used extensively in narrowboat interior fit out for a few reasons. It is lighter than steel and unlike steel, it flexes with the boat when temperatures fluctuate and engines send vibrations through the cabin. Wood also minimises condensation, as it is porous it breathes and it also insulates the steel to keep the boat warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Boat carpentry allows you to take advantage of these properties in your build.
Boat Carpentry – Suitable Materials
Marine ply and hardwood should be used for all structural elements of your fit out such as cabin walls and floorboards. It is very strong and resists moisture. Avoid the temptation to use cheaper composite boards. You will only have to rip it out again shortly after, when the moisture has destroyed it.
Traditionally narrowboats were lined with tongue and groove. This can be varnished or painted, depending on the finish you require. This is relatively easy to fit to the contours and curves of your boat. We say relatively: boat carpentry is never straightforward and requires lots of patience. More modern narrowboats often have hardwood veneers held in place with battens. This again allows for the contours of your boat but gives a more understated finish.
Boat Carpentry – Stern Deck Covers
The vast majority of cruiser stern or semi-cruiser stern narrowboats we see have wooden stern deck covers. These covers lift to allow access to the engine bilge. It is important to keep these in good condition for two reasons. The covers stop rainwater from falling into your engine bilge and the covers stop you and your crew from falling into the engine bilge.
Covers tend to get frayed and chipped on the corners, where they are lifted to examine the engine. These gaps grow larger over time and allow water to leak below. Rainwater in the engine bilge damages your bilge paint and causes rust. If your engine bilge is anything less than immaculately clean, you will be adding water to oil and diesel, creating a contaminated mix which cannot be pumped out. We go into more detail on the problems this causes on our bilge cleaning post.
Newly fitted stern deck covers.
Your stern deck covers should easily take the weight of at least one adult. They are often located exactly directly in front of a hatch or where you stand to cruise. We recently went to asses a customer boat, who had badly maintained bilge covers. The customer stepped on the bilge cover and put his foot straight through. In this case, he got away with heavy bruising and grazes, he was lucky not to break his leg.
Fitting the deck board is more of an art than a science. Very few boats are the same shape, and over the years they tend to spread and deform slightly, meaning that previously straight parts of the boat now curve slightly. The pieces of deck board should fit together exactly and should line up with the deck drainage below. This is much easier if just a single rectangular piece is needed, but more difficult of the whole deck is made from wood.
To book our boat carpentry services or to arrange a free assessment, call 07886388689 or message us.