Hatch: a new plan

by Chuck January 23, 2009

Off and on for the last week I've been working on building a new hatch for Odyssey. The old one is three pieces of yucky wood screwed to two other pieces of yucky wood with dry wall screws. Not the most "yachty" looking hatch I've ever seen.

I have a picture in my head of what I want the new hatch to look like, but I wasn't sure when I started if I could get anywhere near that picture. Now that I've been working on it for a week I'm thinking I'm gonna get pretty darn close.

The hatch I see in my head is made out of teak or mahogany. It has a clear window in the middle. And it fits the opening like a glove.

OK, that's what I see in my head. So far this is what I've got on my workbench.

I've built a frame out of hemlock from Lowe's. It's in two layers, the inner layer is a 3/4-inch board re-sawn on the table saw to 1/2-inch thick. This layer fits over the opening to the hatch, and slips into the slides on either side. The sliding cover hooks over this piece to lock the whole thing up, or at least it will when I put a new locking hasp on.

The outer layer is made of 3/4-inch hemlock. It's 1 1/4 inches smaller in all directions, except for the bottom. The bottom of the outside layer is flush with the bottom of the inside layer. I'm going to cut a rabbet in the outside layer that will let me put a piece of plexiglass in-between the two layers.

When I cut my first pieces I used a small batten to take the angles off the side of the hatches. I remembered that the angle was 7 1/2 degrees, so that's what I cut all the pieces to fit. Unfortunately, when I went to test fit the hatch the angles were way off. So I measured again, and came up with 5 degrees. I re-cut all the angles to 5 degrees, dry fit the hatch together again, and test fitted. It was still off. So I re-cut all the angles to 4 degrees. This time when I tested, the hatch fit.

Yay me. Third time is, just like the cliche', the charm.

I'm going to assemble the two frames separately using biscuits, then bolt them together with stainless steel bolts with washers, trim rings, and cap nuts. I think it will look pretty good when I get it put together. I wonder if I can find brass hardware to assemble the hatch. That would look way mass cool.

I've got the slots cut for the biscuits in the inner frame. Next time I get a chance to work I'll glue up the inner frame and cut the rabbets in the outer frame. Another three or four nights of work and I bet I have a pretty cool looking frame to play with.

Then I have to decide if I want to do it all over again with a "yachty" wood.



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