A couple of years back Jo and I went to a Schionning Muster and got to go on a brand new 40ft Alaskan (Power Cat). It changed some of our layout plans as we very much wanted to set our galley and bathroom out the same way. One feature was the kitchen cabinets and stair well forming the bathroom wall and the kitchen bench top forming part of the bathroom roof.

The other big feature we took from it was a floor to ceiling pantry. We originally had a 1200mm doorway out into the cockpit. We reduced it to 900mm giving us an extra 300mm to make the pantry. We made the pantry 4oomm wide (stealing 100mm from the kitchen cupboard size), it is 600mm deep of course, as it matches the depth of all of the cabinets. We have a 2100mm ceiling height at the main bulkhead but we have a 150mm kickboard at the bottom and a 50mm skirting at the top leaving 1900mm pantry height.

We decided we wanted something with a bit of wow factor, and deep, narrow, tall pantries are hard to properly utilise the space so we decided it would be cool to have a slide out pantry. And just to add a degree of difficulty we already knew we would have a curved front door on it because all the other cabinets have the same radius curved corners so it would have to match them.  I found a slide out mechanism on ebay for a 400mm x 600mm cabinet adjustable between 1800mm and 2000mm, perfect (Its actually 375mm wide and 500mm deep). Almost as if I had it picked before I decided on the cabinet size and made the cabinet to suit the mechanism, which I of course did, right? Nup just damn lucky. Again! (I have lost count of the number of times I have either made a mistake that ended up better than my original, or winged it hoping to find what I needed and have come up trumps).

Before deciding on the slide out pantry I was originally thinking I would make the curved front door and shelves to match glassed into the door itself, they would help form the curve and stiffen the entire structure and then hinge the entire side and front with curve joining them, along the edge that met the bulkhead so in other words you pull the entire pantry out on a curved ark and out from behind the door come the shelves (attached to the door but you get what I mean) to give full and easy access to it. It could have been very stylish but would have been quite heavy when full and I would have needed some very heavy duty hinges. Totally do-able but then we saw a slide out pantry on a rv mobile home and that convinced me it was probably a better idea. The fully hinged door would swing a massive weight into the main doorway over a much bigger footprint and would need to be controlled in some way, probably a hydraulic stay, not difficult but added complexity. But just the inconvenience of the blocked doorway when open was enough to convince us the slide out option had more going for it. The slide out door does block some of the walkway into the kitchen from the lounge or cockpit, but not totally the way the hinged door would have have blocked the main doorway, and this is a secondary walkway. And the way the slide out will work, it is accessible from both sides. Neat!

  

I built the kitchen cupboards a few months back, including the pantry side wall and kickboard that set its size. But I left it there and moved onto other work even putting off buying the sliding mechanism. Then finally a few weeks back I bought the slide out shelves and drove down to Sydney to the factory outlet to collect it and was immediately upsold to their more expensive model. I usually hate being upsold as I feel like I am being somehow conned. The one I purchased was $150 but the model the guy suggested was much better was $200. It has an extra shelf tray which adds to the usable space which is good, but more importantly it has a much heavier duty roller system and thicker wire in the trays. If it was going into a normal kitchen I would have said yeah nice but I am not paying fifty bucks for an extra shelf, but the heavier duty gear swayed me. I almost decided no because of the extra weight but in the end I thought the extra strength and durability might be worth the extra weight, considering the kitchen will often be moving!

I built a bottom shelf onto the kickboard. No biggie here, its just a ply piece curved to match the kickboard. I usually make shelves out of polycore but I used 25mm ply because I wanted some meat to it to anchor the sliding mechanism to. I put a 50mm (x 150mm x 600mm) beam under the shelf for a serious anchor for the mechanism (I will put 100mm x 8mm screws through the ply shelf and into this beam to ensure the mechanism is rock solid. It is also secured at the top so the top shelf is also plywood but only 16mm at the top. Before glassing the beam in I first glassed a conduit through the space beneath the pantry from the kitchen cupboard all the way through and along the bulkhead under the doorway over to the nav cabinet. The reason is that firstly I have tried sending the wiring for the transducer under the stairs, through the lounge furniture and back under the other stairs and the damn cable is about 1 meter short to reach the plotter that way. So rather than get an extension I sent it the more direct route. The other reason is that if I have hydraulic steering (which is most likely, I will need to route the tubes through from the helm to the port hull steering, and this has to go via under the pantry.

  

I have tried a number of methods for making curved cabinets. First on the nav cabinet, I tried kerfing a flat panel and curving it around the precut shelves and glassing it to shape. But this required quite a bit of fairing to fair out the flat spots. Next I tried using quarters of an appropriate radius pvc storm pipe. That method was actually very good, easy to make, already perfectly round. But for the pantry door I thought that the pvc might be a bit too heavy and I certainly did not want to fair a kerfed floor to ceiling sized panel, but even if I was OK with that, I found an unexpected problem that made a kerfed panel not the best idea.

The shelves have square corners, the front of the cabinet has a very rounded corner. I could push the shelves back into the cabinet a bit deeper but then the gap between the front of the mechanism and the back of the door is increased, which means the method of securing the door to the mechanism has to be beefed up. So I hit upon the idea of making a solid glass curve using the same diameter pvc drain pipe as a mold. It is lighter than the pvc pipe section (being such a big diameter pipe it has an 8mm wall thickness which makes it very heavy) and only needs to be 3 or 4mm thick. I wet out glass on a table and layed them over each other on the pipe and rolled some peel ply and let it set. It pulled away from the pipe easily and I trimmed the edges ready to glass it to the panels.

    

I am down to my last polycore panel. I could buy more if I need but am hoping to get away with what I have. I measured the front and sides so that with the curved front I could make the door the correct size. I measured wrong. And both panels ended up 20mm short. Again I lucked out. I have a 20mm gap between the wire shelves and the door edge. I have pieces of 20mm x 80mm cedar and a piece of 40mm x 20mm cedar. I glued them to each other to form a right angle, then glued it to the edge with the 80mm part to the inside to close that gap up so that I can secure the shelves to the door to provide an additional point of attaching the door to the mechanism to make the door more stable. Same with the other edge, here I used a piece of 20mm skirting boards with an bevelled edge and glued and glassed that to the other edge of the curved door and this provided me with another piece to secure the shelves to the door on the other side, so along with the brackets I intend to use to attach the middle of the front of the door to the pull out I have it really well secured and it all fits. A bit more work than I originally intended but it improves on my original idea of just fixing the door from the middle of the front. It would have been too flexible and able to move and considering I have a nearly 2 meter edge to maintain a constant gap on each side I need the door to be as rigidly attached as possible.

  

Which brings me to the brackets. I wondered for a while where I would get the brackets from figuring I would probably need to get someone to fabricate them for me. It dawned on me that there isnt much you cant make yourself with fibreglass. For most applications its nearly as strong as steel. So I made a right angle from pine covered in sticky tape and wet out strips of glass and layered 5 layers of glass over the right angle. When they were set I trimmed them up and I had my brackets. Too easy. Attaching the door to the brackets to the mechanism, not so easy. I decided the easiest method would be to bolt the brackets to the mechanism, put the door over the front and push screws through the front into the brackets. Then once screwed in place I could pull the door open with the sliding draws attached for the first time, unscrew the screws one and a time and replace them before unscrewing the next, and whilst unscrewed scrape some glue behind the bracket so that when set the brackets would be in exactly the correct place to have the door fit onto the slider and slide closed into exactly the correct position. And here again I fell onto more luck.

    

When you glass 2 flat panels to a curved panel it is probable that you will get a little twist. So when I tried dry fitting the door for the first time I had such a twist so that the door protruded at one corner and if I pushed it in it would protrude at the opposite corner. Thats when I got the idea to fill the shortfall of my measuring with timber so that I could use that timber to pull it into place by screwing through the shelves with a block into the timber to pull the door in where it protruded due to the slight twist. I could get it almost into place but I still had a widening gap between the edge from the top to bottom along the join in the doorway. I figured I would have to pull that somehow but couldnt figure out how. So I left it for now, removed the front once the brackets had set to the inside of the door to glass them on and white coat the inside of the door and the inside of the pantry. When I came to refit the door, it took me ages to line up the bolt holes, which I hadnt figured on, but once done the gap was gone. Pure luck. The brackets had moved ever so slightly between being screwed and being glassed in just the right way to close the gap up where I wanted it to.

      

In between making the pantry whilst waiting for things to set, I did the last construction job left in the galley to complete other than hanging the doors and laminating all the surfaces (actually I also still have to fit the cutlery draw which I will do once I have the oven so that I know the exact height I have for the oven as it will be tight) and cut the rubbish bin space into the stairwell and fit the sliding mechanism into it and re-fit the piece I take out as the door). So one of the last tasks is to make the last benchtop. As I mentioned I am running out of polycore, and quite a lot of the top will be cut away for the sink and cooktop, so I was thinking of actually using offcuts to make the top by gluing pieces together pretty much by just using strips along the front, back and sides leaving just a void in the middle where the sink and cooktop will be fitted. But I had enough material to just glue 2 parts to each other to make the the L shaped top so that I could just cut out the sink and cooktop and this gives me the luxury of deciding where each could go.

  

   

We decided on the sink months ago and got a bargain on them at Ikea (we got the second one for something silly like $15 a couple of weeks back) and we decided it would be best if we put the sink in front of the window rather than the cooker for a couple of reasons, not least of which would be leaning over or passing things through the window over the cooktop is not as safe as over the sink. So the cooktop would go into the corner of the L. So the best shape for this would be a triangle. And as luck would have it (I seem to have a lot of it lately) I found a triangular shaped hob on ebay in the UK for $200 less than I could buy one here for, well actually I couldnt find a triangular one here so not only could I get exactly what I wanted but I saved nearly 50% on the deal. $330 delivered by fedex in a week compared to $550 from local retailers who ironically would also take a week. Local retailers have got to lift their game.

The kitchen is almost done. The bathroom, shower and laundry almost done. Just some loose ends in the bedrooms and the electrical cabinet (in the cabinet at the fore of the port stairwell) to go and I am pretty much done with internal construction and I move onto fit and finish work (laminating, linings and fitting). But before that it is finally time to start laying wiring and piping down.

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Paul

1 Comment

  1. Cal

    Hi I have been following your build since 2008 just interested in contacting you re building a thundercat from your posts in 2007

    Cheers Cal

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