Making Drop-In Hatches for Sage 17

teak stock for bottom hatch

teak stock for bottom hatch

Making the drop-in hatches for the Sage 17 is one of the more complicated parts of the build process.  This is because we decided in the beginning that we wanted a nice looking hatch with acrylic to let light in.  This acrylic material is the same as the window material but is the darker shade so it is hard to see in but allows light into the cabin.  Jerry wanted a classic design so the corners are mitered.

The first time I made a set, I needed to draw a plan onto a piece of plywood.  This full size drawing shows the sizes of the stock and most importantly, the angles for the miters that need to be cut in order to achieve the proper side angle.  The sides need to match the companion way and the horizontal pieces need to be parallel for it to look right.

The first step is to then cut out the stock to the proper lengths and widths needed for one set.  I usually do multiples sets in order to save time.  Once I have all of my stock cut out, it needs to be surfaced.  These hatches have to be flat so that means the stock has to be flat.  To do this I have to run the pieces over the jointer to achieve a flat side.  Then they are run through the planner to bring them to the proper thickness for the drop hatch slot that they sit in, about 13/16″.  Now that the stock is at the right thickness, I lay the pieces out for the top and bottom hatch and label them so that I can keep track of front, back, top, bottom, and sides.  Writing on them with pencil is the easiest way to do this.

Every piece is labeled, ok, set the top hatch aside and lets cut the miters for the bottom hatch.  It is very helpful to have a chop saw with a laser on it In order to cut the miters.

miters cut for the bottom hatch

miters cut for the bottom hatch

To cut the miters, I start with the lower left corner and use a protractor to transfer the miter angle from the drawing onto the teak piece.  Using a fine point pencil, I draw the line and then cut it on the chop saw, setting the laser on my pencil line.  This would be very difficult without a laser.  After the first cut, I lay the piece directly onto the drawing and mark the miter angle onto the teak, then cut.  So far, so good. I continue to work around, marking the next cut off of the previous cut, making sure that the pieces match the drawing.  If the angle of the miter is off then I adjust the cut so that it fits properly and matches the plan.

The top hatch is done the same way and after cutting the miters on both, the pieces need a groove cut into them to hold the window panel.

hatch pieces with groove for window

hatch pieces with groove for window

The groove is on the inside edge and cut with a dado blade on the table saw.  Next post I will cut out the acrylic panel and set up for gluing the whole thing together.


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