Sunday, March 17, 2013

Too Cold for Glue

As much as I want to move forward with the caprail, the weather has not been cooperating and the cold is keeping me from epoxying the scarf joints (12 degrees F is not optimal if you want epoxy to cure). So I'm out of luck until things warm up.  Fortunately, I have plenty of other, smaller things to do so I moved to my basement shop where the weather is much better.

The companionway has been one of the sections I haven't done anything with since I took it apart 3 years ago, so I figured it was time to get crackin.  I started by sanding down the hatch and filled the many gouges and dings with epoxy and set it aside to cure in the shop.  Once I sand and fair the hatch, I'll prime and paint with PrimeKote and Perfection, followed by Kiwigrip for the non-skid.  I'll need to do the same for the 2 lazarette hatches and the icebox lid, but decided to move on to more appealing projects that involve wood (if given a choice, I always choose wood projects over frozen snot).

I decided to get started on the companionway woodwork that is in need of total replacement because the old wood is pretty much a rotten mess.  I saved every piece regardless of its state so I could copy the pieces when the time came; that time is now.  I also took a bunch of photos when dismantling because there are a lot of strangely shaped parts and piecing them back together without a photo guide would prove difficult. I chose to start with the companionway threshold because everything is built off of it.  I epoxied 2 pieces of sapele up to get the required rough dimensions, clamped it and let it cure overnight.

The next day, I took closer measurements and cut the piece to proper size.  There were several odd bevel angles and an inset rabbet cut that I partially completed with a blind cut on the table saw and finished up with a chisel in the corners.  I was pretty happy when I took it over to the boat for a test fit and found that it fit like a glove and looked nice.

There is alot more to do on the companionway, but I'm chipping away.  Most of the other pieces will be reasonably simple and don't have the angles and odd cuts that this piece did.


  1. I'm curious how you've found the Sapele to work with generally? What I see in the photos looks great, so I'm assuming you like it? Any pointers on the material? And have you finished any of it yet to know how it'll look under varnish? For that matter, what have you found that it costs, compared to - say - mahogany and teak? Would it have bent along the caprail, if you were patient? And brave!?

  2. It's a decent wood and has a nice color although it is a bit more brown than Honduras Mahogany. The ribbon grain and color seems to be very uniform so it makes matching easy and it works pretty well. It feels a bit more dense/heavy than Honduras Mahogany and I have gotten some nasty slivers from it. Overall I think it's a good substitute for Mahogany. There is another Alberg 35 owner out on the West Coast who turned me on to it. He did all of his caprails with it and it looks fantastic.

    It is a no brainer on price. The current market has Sapele at about $6-7/board foot, Honduras Mahogany at $11-12/board foot, and Teak is insane (somewhere north of $20 board foot).

    I went back and forth on bending it on and based on some previous experiences I decided against it. The risk of making $500 kindling is too great. Sapele is not known for it's bending qualities.

    Hope this helps,