Date: 2 October 2015. Backing Plates.
Aboard boats often we utilize backing
plates. They are used to reinforce or strengthen an attachment
point. I've got lots of them on Seaweed. Larger yachts do too. Of
late they have been an essential part of the galley changes I'm
making. Today I'll show you my newest money-saving backing plate
If the only
tool you have is a hammer, soon every problem begins to resemble a
nail. It's the same way with hinges for me. I find them useful for
attaching items in lieu of braces, brackets, and shelf supports.
With a backing plate, hinges are almost perfect.
that I have a propensity to use hinges. I have bunches.
galley I've been making changes. The latest is described in the
Securing a Refrigerator (fans too)
article. Atop my new
refrigerator/freezer, I wanted a shelf.
Hinged (see above) at the aft
bulkhead, I can raise the shelf when necessary. With the shelf out
of the way, I should be able to remove the refrigerator with
relative ease. I'll simply move the microwave, then lift the shelf.
That is important. Behind the
refrigerator I have a pair of fans. One blows on the compressor and
the other sucks air from the cabinet. Having access to replace the
fans is going to be important down the waterway.
I *thru-bolted the hinge, with
a pair of backing plates. One is on the inside. The other is on the
outside of that bulkhead.
*Thru-bolted is a fancy way of
saying the fastener (bolt) goes from the inside, through to the
opposite side of whatever you're attaching to. In this case, I'm
going from the inside of my galley cabin through the aft bulkhead
and will attach the nuts on the opposite side of that wall. On
boats, walls are called bulkheads.
I've used FENDER WASHERS AND NUTS to
secure the backing plate
to the aft bulkhead.
Nuts and Bolts, plus Fender Washers
have a pointy end that
holds tight when inserted in wood.
I keep a variety of screws
in a little kit that is easily accessible.
Nuts and Bolts:
Sometimes bolts are
called machine screws. They are the ones with the flat end. A
nut holds it fast when it's thru-bolted through something. To
thru-bolt means to have the bolt penetrate fully to the
opposite side of whatever you're holding together. A nut then
keeps the bolt from pulling out.
← FENDER WASHER and
are very large (usually
at least four times the size of the nut) flat disks that help
*spread the load. For this project my fender washers are the
size of a quarter.
Standard washers are
just slightly larger than the nut.
*Spread the Load
means that a larger surface is involved. As an example, you
can with relative ease pull a sewing pin through a piece of
fabric. If that pin has a larger end (such as a pretty bead)
it will be much more difficult to tug through.
It's a similar
principle for Fender Washers. They spread the load (enlarge
the contact point) so that pulling through should not ever
happen. That's the theory anyway...
The backing plate
also helps spread the load. That's why backing plates are used
so often in boats. Anything mission critical will have a
backing plate. All your cleats do, your windlass, the swim
deck attachment points, handrails, etc.
But back to my galley...
The ideal solution would have been to use StarBoard as a backing
plate. It's the correct color (white) and thus would match the
exterior of Seaweed. Really, it's wonderful stuff. Recently I used
some StarBoard (pronounced Star Board) scraps in another project
described in the
But this is
now, and alas, I didn't have enough for the needs at hand.
Seaweed, saving money is a necessity. Because I didn't need the
strength nor quality offered by StarBoard, I could come up with
another solution. I knew that using wood outside in the cockpit
would be my last choice. Essentially, I wanted a StarBoard knock-off
at a bargain price.
it dawned on me that cutting boards are a similar material. They are
made from a plastic that won't easily break. I decided to buy and
use a 1/4" thick cutting board as the backing plates required for
the galley shelf project. The one I bought from Walmart was $12 and
measured 15" x 20".
Three strips were cut, each 17" long. That's the
length of the stainless hinge.
Tomorrow I'll tell you about that.
Addendum: Todd in the Comment section below rightly pointed
out something that I was not clear about in this article.
Specifically, in no way, shape, nor form would StarBoard or
even worse, a cutting board be suitable as a backing plate for
a cleat, windlass or other high-stress item on a boat.
For those, 1/4" stainless
would be a good place to start. That's what I have for my
windlass, samson post, etc.
And thanks Todd, for
Have you ever used unusual items as backing plates in a
What did you use and is it still serving the purpose?
Canning 10 Pounds of Chicken
... Next Post ~
Backing Plate Concerns