This was the day of seat fitting. This can be a fussy job that requires patience and attention to detail, as well as a Shinto Rasp. No matter how accurate the CNC cut panels, or how well the builder does assembling the hull, the seats will fit a little differently on each boat built. This requires scribing and shaving the mating edges of the seat panels to fit your unique build. Even the very best fitting seat panels will require beveling the mating edges to accommodate the flare of the hull sides. Luckily, wood and epoxy building, unlike traditional wood joinery, doesn’t require tight fitting joints. In fact, it is actually stronger to have a wide gap filled with thickened epoxy than a tight gap with a very thin glue line of epoxy. So, we can go pretty wild with the Shinto Rasp. Care needs to be taken, however, when using one of these indispensable tools. It cuts very quickly, and a quick slip into a knuckle becomes a gory and painful experience.

By first laying the unaltered panels into place, we can see how well it fits, and if it will need to be trimmed. I found that all of the seat panels needed to be beveled to roughly match the hull flare before I could begin any scribing. Some builds I have done had seats that fit more loosely. Test fit first. After getting reasonably close, I could begin scribing to get a more exact fit. Scribing is done by holding a pencil at a consistent distance from the surface that we are fitting to, and drawing a line on the piece that is meant to fit into place. This is often done using a compass. By setting the compass to the widest gap’s width and drawing a line, using the point of the compass running along the side of the hull, you can make a line that is exactly the same shape as the hull side. I generally use my finger to hold a constant distance while drawing a line, but this technique takes practice to master, and a compass is recommended.

Bow seat test fit. Not bad right out of the box!

Scribing a line using my finger as a guide. Holding the pencil firmly while running my finger along the side of the hull gives an accurate scribe line. This technique is tricky, and requires practice. Especially difficult on wide scribes. A compass does this easily.

Once the scribe line has been made, I used it as a guide to cut off “the high spots.” I don’t generally cut all the way to line at first. Many seats, like the one at the bow on this boat, have no support beneath them to hold them at the correct height and require the hull sides to squeeze them at the right spot, so if I were to cut away too much, the seat would fall below the height that it should be. So by taking little bites away from the worst fitting areas, I can slowly get the fit that I am looking for. Many kit boats have marks on the hull panels to locate the correct placement of these types of seats. This one doesn’t. So, the thing to make sure of when doing the fit is that it doesn’t end up slanting downhill towards the bow. This will create a spot where rain water will puddle, and that is not great.

Bevel all of the edges that meet the hull in order to accommodate the flare of the hull sides. It is generally necessary in order to get the panels to fit at the right height. The CNC cut is meant to fit well at the top of the panel creating the need to bevel the bottom. But, yes. Epoxy can fill the gaps. Some kits require more or less attention in these areas. Seats made of thicker plywood, like these 6mm, will almost always require some beveling. It is quick work with a Shinto. Bench top belt sander works well too.

The slots that fit around the frames needed to be widened on this one. A sloppy fit is best here. They are difficult to get in and out if they fit too well. And the panels will need to be removed and replaced several times before they are fit successfully. Shinto makes short work of this job.

As an employee of CLC, I get to test out any improvements they may be making to the kits. It this case, the design team decided to redraw the seat panels in order to make them fit better. Having never built this model before, I was unsure if these panels were fitting better, so I sent them some photos and they decided to redraw them again. So I was forced to stop at this point and wait for the new “improved “ seat panels. CLC is constantly improving their existing kits and manuals based on feedback given from customers. The quality of a kit certainly improves with age.

After scribing, my panels were too wide to fit together at their joints. These were experimental “improved” panels. They will be redrawn, and improved again in order to fit better.

So, since I was unable to continue building, I gave the interior of the boat its first epoxy fill coat. (Not pictured) The sealed compartments will need two epoxy coats before installation of the seat tops.