This was the original table, which could only be reached from the ports side seats.The original saloon table on Britannia was a single heavy sheet of 3/4” inch thick laminated plywood, 27” inches wide by 57” inches long. It was supported on two substantial aluminum pedestals locking into large round collars screwed to the floor and table.

There were two annoying problems with this ‘structure’. It was permanently mounted on only the port side of the saloon, so people sitting on the starboard settee couldn't even reach the table. It was also difficult to squeeze in and out of one end, because the chart table bulkhead was in the way.

This shows the center section and a leaf ready for trimming.It was a very substantial but completely impractical table, so I decided to built myself a more versatile one that could seat more than just three people. My new design would have a narrow fixed center section with hinged leaves either side that swing up to reach either or both of the settees. This is hardly a unique concept for a boat, so why didn't the original builders do it this way?

The ideal table height for the settees is 28“ inches, that meant the drop down leaves could not be more than 27” inches, or they would catch on the floor when they were down. With both leaves open this left a 13” inch space in the middle, that became the width of the fixed section. The table would be 43” inches long, to allow access all round.


All three table sections are ready for the face panels to be glued on.I started with a 4’ foot by 8’ foot sheet of good quality oak plywood. The store where I bought it from cut this large heavy sheet to my three panel sizes on their circular saw, which saved me a lot of time and enabled the pieces to fit in my vehicle.

I wanted rounded corners on all the pieces, so I drew round a tin lid to give me a radius then rounded the corners with my jig saw fitted with a fine scrolling blade.

Pouring the contact glue before smoothing out  I decided to laminate the table tops with a Formica type melamine laminate that is both hard and scratch resistant. I found exactly what I was looking for on the Wilsonart website, ( It is a very realistic looking teak grained laminate called Nepal Teak, in a high gloss finish that looks just like real varnished teak. It is 3/64” inch thick and I cut it to the approximate size of each table section using metal cutting shears, leaving about ” inch overhang all round. Then I glued them on the plywood using original formula Weldwood contact cement. This is more liquid than the Gel type and I spread it on the plywood and laminate surfaces with a 6” inch roller then waited for the glue to get tacky. Joining large surfaces of laminate with contact glue is a one chance process, because contact cement bonds on contact and there is no ‘wiggle room’. I placed a laminate on the bench, glue side upwards then laid two thin wooden battens each end and put the plywood on top, glue side downwards. The wood strips kept the two pieces apart and enabled me to locate the plywood accurately above the laminate. It was then a simple matter to slide the battens out and press the plywood to the laminate. I then placed the board on some paper on the house floor and walked all over it in my deck shoes. This applied much more then the 75 lbs pressure called for in the gluing instructions, and firmly pressed the pieces together.

After leaving the three boards overnight for the glue to harden I carefully trimmed the laminate flush with the edges of the boards using a router with a vertical These are twelve teak corner sections, all cut by hand.  cutting bit and roller bearing guide. This produced a sharp straight edge to which I intended to fit teak trim all round.

I had some ” inch thick teak slats left over from my rebuild of the forward cabin that were just right to make the straight edge trim for the panels. Of course, this was much too thick to bend round the corners, so I used my jig saw to cut rounded trim from bits of solid teak I had saved from previous projects.  All the trim had to be drilled and counter bored, then screwed and glued to the edges of the three boards. Then all 75 holes had to be plugged and sanded.

I decided to make fixed fiddles on the center section, because things invariably get placed there that are liable to slide off when the boat rocks, even in a marina. I cut strips to length and beveled and rounded the top then shaped both ends in a graceful swan-neck curve to join the corner trim. I left the corners open to enable the table to be wiped and add a bit of decorative accent then rounded the underside of the trim but left the top square.

This shows all the edge and corner trims. I made twelve corner pieces, four edging strips for fiddles and eight other edging trims. An unusual consequence that I didn't anticipate was actually keeping track of all the pieces of trim that had been shaped and matched individually to the One of the pull-apart leaf hinges. edges and corners. All were slightly different, because this table was nothing if not ‘hand-crafted’. I hinged the leaves using six stainless steel sliding pull apart hinges, three on each leaf. These enable the leaves to be easily detached from the center section when necessary, like when needing access to the floorboards.

 This is the support at one end of the center section. When floorbords need to be lifted the table leafes are slid off and the table can be stowed on the mast post.The mainmast compression post on my schooner is a 4” inch square post passing through the saloon to the keelson that offered a perfect support for one end of the table center section. I used a 4” inch brass butt hinge to support that end of the table, screwing one half of the hinge to the compression post with a teak block spacer and the other to the underside of the table. This enabled the center section to hinge upwards and hang with a strop to the post whenever I needed access to the floorboards. It also allowed the table to be easily removed completely if necessary, by simply knocking the hinge pin out to separate the two halves.

To support the other end of the table I shaped a leg out of plywood and hinged this with a short piano hinge and a spring latch on the other end. This allowed the leg to fold flat to the underside of the center section whenever it was lifted to get to the floorboards. I located the bottom of the support with two pins that located into flanged bushings I set in the floor. I made the pins by screwing 1/4” inch diameter stainless wood screws into the bottom of the support, then hack-sawing the heads off and rounding them with a file.

To support the leaves I bought two attractively turned white wood table legs, grandly termed ‘Early American table legs’. I fastened the top of the legs to the underside center edge of the leaves using strong hinges, so when not in use the legs fold to the inside of the leaves and lock into C clips. I screwed 1/4” inch diameter pins in the bottom of each leg that then dropped into bronze flange bushings sunk into the floor. This made a simple yet very secure support for the table leaves, much better than trying to support them from the center section like I have had on other boats, that nearly always allowed the leaves to sag. I also bought two brass barrel bolt latches that I screwed to each leaf. The bolt drops into flanged bushings set in the floor and stops the leaves swinging about in the folded This shows a leaf leg attached to the underside of the table. down position when the boat heels.

I stained the white plywood on the underside of the panels and the table legs with teak stain, that when rubbed with a rag made the wood look amazingly like the shade of real teak. This is called Teak Natural 120 that I bought from a local hardware store. When all the woodwork was complete I varnished it with two coats of Epifanes high gloss wood varnish. The result is difficult to distinguish between the real teak trim and the laminate.

When both leaves are extended the new table is more than twice the size of the old one and looks positively baronial. But more importantly, it is very much more functional and easily seats five, yet when the leaves are down it is smaller than the original and allows access all round. This alteration can be seen on the before and after drawings


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A new table was built to be able to be used by people sitting on both sides of the boat.