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Saturday, March 4, 2017

New V-Berth Side Panels

The V-berth showing bare to the fiberglass side walls with
v-berth shelving removed.

Plans and Materials

The old V-berth side panels were removed and discarded by the previous owner. Original plans for finishing the V-berth entailed constructing side wall panels with teak or cedar batten strips.  On both sides of the V-berth is a full length self which is located about 1/3 down along the side walls.  This divided the side wall regions into 4 panels: two top and two bottom for each side.

Initially this project was low on the priority list but as the list grew shorter, more time was spent exploring various design options.  One day at a local Lowes Home Improvement, I noticed a decorative beaded wood wall panel.  Most wall panels readily available are constructed from pressed particles.  This panel was appealing as the beaded style was similar in appearance to the original batten design, and more important, the panel was 3-ply plywood rather than a pressed panel.  

While not designed for a marine environments, I originally shied away from these panels. I eventually convinced myself that the simplicity and ease of effort coupled with the virtual zero cost of material was worth giving it a try even if the project needed to be replaced in a few years with a more permanent solution.  I purchased two of the 4x8 panel which had some damage to the edges.  This was fine since I did not need the whole panel and Lowes discounted each panel by 50%. To improve the longevity of the material, each panel was coated with thinned epoxy allowing the side edges to soak epoxy in well inside. This was followed by two coats of polyurethane (left over from refinishing the teak and holly sole).  


  • 4-ft x 8-ft Beaded Ann Arbor Birch Wood Wall Panel
    • Lowes Item # 10003 Model # 344281   $39.97 (damaged price $20/panel)
  • Glue sticks for ordinary glue gun
  • Epoxy & some isopropyl alcohol for thinning
  • Polyurethane 
  • 1" wide scrap Luan strips and strips cut from excess panel.

  1. Construct simple pattern for each panel with Luan strips and hot glue gun.
  2. Cut wall panel to patterns on table saw.
  3. Seal the back and edges of each panel with epoxy.
  4. Scuff front of panel factory finish with 3M pad and apply two coats of polyurethane.
  5. Install panel sections and secure with shelves and front/back support strips.

Making the Panels to size

A pattern was built by hot gluing scrap Luan plywood strips
to form a frame in the actual v-berth panel location.

A frame pattern is used to mark out the exact size for one of the
upper V-berth panels.  Each cut panel was coated with thinned
epoxy allowing the side edges to soak epoxy in well inside and
then finished with two coats of polyurethane.

Placement of the lower starboard V-berth panel.

Final Panel Installation

Portside V-berth panels installed with original self. 

First Mate installing rope lighting and decorations in the V-berth.

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