Tricky project in a boat... - Router Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 06:39 AM Thread Starter
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Question Tricky project in a boat...


I'm back after a long absence, and have been enlisted to help my best mate modify the interior of his 43' launch.

He wants me to install some drawers - this involves making the carcasses, building the framework to support the drawers...and the tricky part : cutting the aperture for the drawer/making the faces for the drawers. This last step is what I'd like help with!

I need to cut three large apertures from a vertical face that up extends from floor level to about 400mm. So I'm picking the drawer aperture will be about 300mm tall, and perhaps 600mm wide. I need to use the cut-out (i.e. the timber 'plug' created by cutting the aperture) as the face of the drawer carcass. I understand that any cutting device I use will cause a loss of timber - kerf.

If I could cut accurately enough with a device with a thin kerf (saw 3mm) then I could use the 'plug' as the face of the drawer carcass without adding trim to the aperture edges. However, given the work area (i.e. vertical surface, close to floor and rail at top of work area), I don't like my chances!

I'm picking I have to cut the aperture with a jigsaw, then add trim to the edges of the aperture to tidy up from the rough jigsaw cut - then reduce the size of the 'plug' to match the aperture. Is that the best approach?

I'm a big fan of using templates and a handheld router, but can't see this approach working given the need to operate the router in a horizontal position (surely hard work!?!) and lack of space to manoeuvre the router near the floor and top rail. Also, I can't afford to have the router deviate from the intended path, as it'll chew up the surrounding timber if I use a male template, or the 'plug' if I use a female template. Or is there another way to do it : a 'channel' template & a template guide the same width as the channel??

Any help would be much appreciated!


PS - if a pic would help, let me know - I'm out on the boat tomorrow.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 07:09 AM
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I think the biggest problem to overcome is starting all those cuts. If you try plunge-cutting with a jigsaw, you're bound to let the blade run wild and scratch the surface in an unintended place, especially working vertically. You probably don't have room to make those cuts with a circular saw, which could be more accurate. Here's what I would do:

Mark out the lines for your drawer holes in the face frame. Drill holes at opposite corners INSIDE THE LINES to give you a starting place for your jigsaw. Jigsaw out the hole as best you can. Use a handsaw to finish the cuts where the jigsaw can't reach. Clean up the edges of the hole with rasp and sandpaper. Take the cutouts to your table saw and true them up, getting rid of the holes you drilled. Wrap the cutout with a contrasting wood to leave the drawer front properly sized. You can even inset the drawer fronts leaving them flush with the face frame if you want. I think if you try to do it without the trim around the edges, it will look very home-made because the gaps will be too wide and ragged, But you can dress it up nicely with trim.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 10:18 AM
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Hi Matt good to see you back. Most times face frames are made from indidual pieces as are the drawer fronts and you know why now. I have a bit of a radical suggestion but it has has a low failure probability. Get a Japanese pull saw. They can cut to the tip. Cut a 2 by to the exact size you want the cut out and clamp it where you want the cut out. Use it as a guide for the saw and keep dragging the saw back and forth until you go through. Once you have enough cut you'll be able to use the saw vertically to do the corners. Because the saw cuts on the pull stroke you may want to work from the back side.

Because the pull saws make such a narrow kerf you'll have room to do some sanding to smooth off the edges without making the gap too wide. This is a labour intensive method but you are almost guaranteed to be successful. Nothing will happen so fast that you can't make corrections.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 11:18 AM
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Hey, Matt; welcome back!

Layout out whole shebang on a single piece of panel, but at least an inch oversize in every direction. Lay it out as it will actually appear when it's completed
ie the two side pieces and the top and bottom pieces in their proper location.
Rip the two sides off the panel, rip the top and bottom off the big centre panel. THINNEST KERF BLADE you can find.
Now cut the drawer fronts to their finished sizes.
Lay them down with the appropriate spacers between the drawers and top and bottom as well. The grain should still fairly closely match everywhere.
Now, go back and assemble the face frames from the previously cut sides and ends. You'll have all matched grain and 4 very discrete butt joints...virtually unnoticeable and a perfect fit every where.
Final step is to trim the exterior of the face frame to it's final installed dimensions.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 11:29 AM
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I second what Dan suggests. A long time ago I watched David Marks do that with a desk, even with a figured wood it looked like all one piece.

A slitting saw or oscillating tool can give you the think kerf, but it would be nearly impossible to get crisp straight lines for your cuts (at least for me)

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice. Sounds like using a router to make the cuts is out of the question - as I figured. Too hard to operate with the router horizontal, especially down at floor level. My friend has a Festool plunge saw so may be able to use that - I think it cuts within 50mm of the edge guide - which could be the floor, or the upper rail.

Am going to the boat now so will take some pics and post them.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 07:12 PM
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I look forward to seeing pictures of this project.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 09:29 PM
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Hi Matt,

Would one of these multi tools help?

Oscillating Multi-function Tool - 300W - Model BMT300-XE - Black Decker | 0 | GotStock

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 11:20 PM
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Welcome back Matt.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-19-2015, 04:52 AM Thread Starter
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Hi James

We have one of those oscillating multi-saws onboard - it's been very useful for cutting in hard-to-access places (plenty of those on a boat!) but the cleanliness of the cut leaves a lot to be desired - and they're S L O W. At this stage I favour the jigsaw method - although having used the Festool plunge saw (NZ$ it's got to be good!) it's a strong contender for the job too, if we can get it to cut close enough to the floor and top rail. It's uber accurate and clean cutting.

Have attached a picture of the work environment - remember, that's a vertical surface....9mm kauri over 13mm ply.

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