Best tools to use to remove original cockpit coaming and spacers

I was thinking I want to remove the original cockpit without damaging the plywood deck.  But as I was typing title realized the plywood deck would be cut out anyway for the larger new cockpit.  My question is what are the best tools to use to remove:

1. The old cockpit coaming/spacers.  (Mutitool with wood blade?)

2. Tool to cut the deck for the new larger cockpit.  (So I do not chip or spinter plywood deck.)



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RE: Best tools to use to remove damage deck Chesapeake 18

   The cockpit is on a Chesapeake 17.


I am also replacing a damaged deck portion about 2 foot back from the bow on a Chesapeake 18.  So it would involve removing about a 1 foot portion of deck.  Any thoughts about best way to remove nails and deck portion?



RE: Best tools to use to remove original cockpit coaming and spacers

Hi chburch,

I don't have any experience with the Chesapeake 18, but I have a ton of experience in cabinetmaking, Ikea-hacking and other fine woodworking and I'm currently building a Shearwater Sport.

I'm not sure but I think the coaming  spacers are 1/2 Okoume?  If it was me I would use a hand plane to shave down the spacers to the deck level.  That said you could take the bulk of the material off with an ocsilating saw.  In fact there are many ways to accomplish this.  you could use a belt sander or a power hand planer as well.  Best would be to take your time and go slow.

Once you have the spacers down to the deck level, I would use a jig saw with a fine tooth metal blade to cut the new cockpit opening.  If you put masking tape on the topside of the deck and draw your new cockpit line on that, the tape will help reduce tear out on the top with a jig saw.  Also if the jig saw has any forward oscillation, you would be best to set that at zero.

When you glue on the new cockpit coaming spacers any small tear out will be hidden in that joint - and thus unsean.

As for the deck repair -- I think I'll leave that for some other members to tackle as I don't know the construction of the boat that well.  There is a good article in the "how to" section that describes saving a SUP that you might find interesting

Good luck with the modification and repair.


RE: Best tools to use to remove original cockpit coaming and spacers

I have built the chesapeake series before.....and what you are talking about is doable...albeit a bit challenging.

for removing the existing coaming, i would go with a bonsai saw.  a version of which they sell at clc....but there are variations    the reason i would use a bonsai saw is that you can bend the blade to conform to the curve of the deck and also a bonsai saw blade does not have a supporting arm so it is no thicker than the kerf of the blade which is something that you probably need in an effort like this.  the blade is also long enough and the handle is such that i am pretty certain you can work it without interference of some other types of saws.   that said, you will probably want to break an effort like this into a bunch of manageable sessions so you don't get fatigued or frustrated as you want to work with care. 

once you have bonsai saw, it is also my preferred tool for cutting hatches and any other curved opening in okoume or cedar strip.   these are very versatile and sharp saws.  a sharp bonsai saw is pretty easy to control and also, becuase it is relatively slow compared to a reciprocating saw, doesn't typically cause tear out and or likely to damage the deck which can happen when a reciprocating saw accidently comes out of its cut and slaps the adjacent deck.

on replacing deck sections, again, the bonsai saw is great for cutting away a broken deck section.   you will be able to get most of it off but it will not cut through the nails.   for the nails, if you cut around them with the bonsai saw, you may be able to remove them with a pliers or the claw of a hammer.  worse case is you just cut off the exposed parts with a metal saw.

the deck of a chesapeak is 'tortured' which means it is bent into a curve.  once you cut out the piece you are replacing, i would create an okoume doubler underneath the good part of the deck that remains creating a ledge to use to bend the new piece of deck over.   so step one is remove damage wood, step two is epoxy a doubler under the good part of the deck to create a ledge, and step 3, bend/glue new deck piece on the doubler using something like strapping tape to hold the bend in which the glue sets.

i hope this is understandable.



RE: Best tools to use to remove original cockpit coaming and spacers

Thank you all!   I orderd the new cockpit coaming and spacers there are 3 sizes available.

32.5" x 19"

33"x 21"

34" x 18.5"


It look like I may have to move the deckbeam may be in the way since the original cockpit size is 31" x 17'.



RE: Best tools to use to remove original cockpit coaming and spacers

Hi cmburch, 

good point about the deckbeam.   

fwiw, i would approach this by simply approach this by cutting through the deck beam as part of cutting out your new cockpit and not concern yourself with 'removing' it initially.

the deckbeam on a chesapeake provides a surface to bend the deck over (e.g, a the tortured deck).  but it is not really a critical piece of the structure after you do that and the boat is completely put together.   none of the shearwaters or even the arctic hawk have that deck beam (in the arctic hawk it is a temporary structure).

so i would push on with your project and assess what you want to do with it once you are underway.  

 there is potentially more to say on this, but that is where i would start.


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