Date: 30 December 2014. Building a Locker (Part
[Posted late due to bandwidth issues.]
canning locker aboard Seaweed is complete however I must admit I'm
less than satisfied by the results. It's done however there is
definitely room for improvement. Let me tell you what I did wrong,
and what could have been better. Still, know this:
The locker is
in use and useful. Though not perfect, it's definitely Good Enough.
began in early December when I opened a kitty litter container
and discovered the canning jars I'd stored in there had been damaged
by condensation. The particulars can be found in the
Building a Locker (Part 1)
thought, multiple measurements and the like, I'd come up with the
plan for the canning goods locker. It would be 12" deep, span the
width between the dinette benches and nearly as tall as the table it
would fit under. Here are my original notes:
the sheet of plywood was a given. I'd need to haul the pieces back
to Seaweed and there's no way I could physically carry a 4x8 sheet
of plywood. First however a walk over to the local ACE Hardware was
required so I could pay for it.
On the way,
just leaving the bank was a local friend, George. We chatted and I
told him my intention. He volunteered to cut the wood for me,
provided we could get it cut small enough to fit into his car.
Excellent. George has a table saw so I knew the cuts would be far
better than mine (with a jig saw) would be.
dimensions were on my 3x5" card, so I was all set. Having George cut
meant the locker would fit together without issue. Frankly, my
cutting isn't spectacular so this was a real boon to me.
At ACE, the
sheet was cut into strips about 24" wide. The four slices
fit into George's trunk. We headed over to his workshop where I was
delighted to see Pat. She's a gem (George's better half) and gave me my newest Aphorisms
file addition. And quite frankly, this one sure rings a bell with me
I'm old, I'm
cold and I want to go home. Pat in Carrabelle.
day George brought me by my new locker. Some assembly required:
Even though I'd purchased
the better of the two grades of ply sold at ACE there was a
bit of preparation required.
Side Note: Locally plywood
comes in two grades. The first and least expensive is
unfinished on both sides. The better quality is smooth on
one side. It also will have fewer knots.
First I wanted to protect
the plywood. That means varnish. Ship's stores did me well. I
had less than half a quart of
Interlux Goldspar Satin Varnish, and
that would work. I painted pieces of my puzzle with it.
Even if I'd intended to
eventually paint the wood, the clear coat base would have been
a good choice for the project. Besides, I had it on hand.
From the scraps, I knew I wanted to make feet/legs
for my locker. Having it set directly on the sole would have
been a bad idea. I wanted air circulation. Additionally the
aesthetics required a bit of a furniture look to the locker.
Adhesive, specifically the
GE silicon glue was used to adhere the pieces together.
This step was to aid stability before the stainless wood screws were
The first step was to begin building. Because I
didn't want to take the dinette table top off I opted to build in
place, one shelf at a time. This all sounds logical and it sort-of
After placing the legs at the bottom I screwed them
in place. The width, 26" meant that three would be required to
support the items on that shelf.
I had shorter pieces (this one
is 6.5" by 12") cut to support the upper shelves. You can see
one of them in the next picture. A bit of the
GE silicon glue and a couple of screw held it all together.
I wanted short shelves.
Specifically I want to be able to stack my canning jars two
high. The bottom shelf would be a bit higher to accommodate my
pressure cooker and associated gear used when preserving foods.
Articles on canning can be found here:
Canning Primer (Preserving Meats, Part 1)
Processing in Pressure Cooker (Preserving
Meats, Part 2)
The bottom corner of my locker now fits my pressure
While I wallowed in my happiness
as the first shelf went in so well, that was the last thing to go
well until completion of the project. The gosh darn boat is narrower
at the bulkhead than where I measured out by the passageway.
Additionally, nothing (not a thing!) is square -- nor even close.
Not a doggone thing was
near to fitting after that initial success with the bottom
layer. With a bit of fudging (quite a bit!) I made it
all work. You can see how far off things were in these two
This was an exercise in frustration --
like many boat projects.
It's a boat and stuff goes wrong.
Fixing it is a matter of perseverance.
I ended up adding extra boards to
the sides to provide support for the upper layers. The sides aren't
square -- they kind of lean out. It's wrong, but unless you were to
look dead-on, you'll not notice. Eventually I'll do one of two
Take apart the locker I built and
remake it as a solid piece of furniture. That unit I'll bolt to the
bulkhead so it won't move in a seaway.
Find an already built solid wood
cabinet that will fit in the space and buy it. I can add shelves as
needed and where required. It's important to measure the height you
need. Dead head space is wasted storage capacity.
Given a preference quite frankly
I'd rather opt for Number Two. I'm not good at mitering corners and
would of course like a locker that can be viewed without me
The inside of my canning locker is
all I had hoped. My jars fit two high. After filling the new locker
I found another dozen jars so it's not as tidy at present as I'd
hoped. It will be but for now it's loaded. With a bit of effort I'll
be able to rearrange items and make everything sea-ready. In the
meantime it's done, and that's good enough.
The problem I had upon completion
is that because things were wonky (size wise) I'd used the locker
doors for shelves. Therefore I needed to improvise. The decision to
make folding down openings versus the standard basically meant I was
able to use what I had on hand. A couple of hinges attach the doors
to the shelves.
There is no way to latch the
things shut. Therefore I ended up using a couple of eyebolts on the
sides and some string to close the doors. It won't open unless I
untie the bow. Still, it looks awful. I'm only posting it because
this is reality: it's not perfect.
There is room for air to flow and that means
condensation will not ruin my canning jars.
Although I wish the final results
had been more noteworthy I do know they can (and will) be redone.
For now however I've got a place to store my canned foods without
having to open the bilge each time I want something tasty. As for
tonight, it's fresh food for me.
Baked grouper, snow peas and some
potatoes... life is good.
When making your
own locker bear in mind the difficulties I had:
I measured not where the locker
would be constructed but where it was "easy" to do so. At the
bulkhead the sizes were different.
Varnishing would have been easier
if I'd had a place to spread things out.
My closures are not good. The next
incarnation of this locker will have a better system for closing.
Opening this locker will be a
semi-nightmare without fiddles to prevent the contents from sliding
I should have wired it for a
light. To solve that I'll tuck a flashlight and a pair of glasses in
a little nook.
To you and yours, good luck with your project. I like my canning
goods locker, even with the less-than perfect results. It's still an
improvement over what was there and I'm pleased.
Have you ever built a locker aboard your boat?
I'd appreciate any advice you can offer regarding my next build of this
Categories: Characters, Galley,
Necessary (for me) ~
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