Centerboard Case

While I was building the hull, I also fiberglassed the centerboard trunk with some 6oz cloth. It’s a good idea to try and keep smaller projects going that can use up leftover epoxy from bigger jobs.

Next I epoxied on the case logs to the side pieces.

And finally I epoxied the two sides together to make the centerboard case. I made a long spatula with a nice radius at the top so I could put a fillet of thickened epoxy along the inside corners. Should make the joints stronger, but more importantly watertight. This is an area on the boat that I never want to have to try and repair.

Cutting the hole for the centerboard case was the most nerve wracking step so far. My chalk line was still visible from when I made the bottom panel, so I used that as the centerline of the boat. I marked out two squares along the centerline that will accept the protruding head ledges of the centerboard case.

Then I cut the holes out with an oscillating saw. I had to use a grinding attachment to clean up the holes and bring them to size.

Success! The centerboard case fits in and appears to be parallel with the centerline as best I could measure.

Next I epoxied in the centerboard case and half bulkhead with thickened epoxy and 4″ 12oz tape. This really locks it in position and stiffens the bottom panel.

I flipped the boat over and then used a straight edge to connect the two head ledges. This gives me the size of the slot to cut out.

I drilled a hole at either end and jig sawed out most of the waste. I made sure to stay well within the lines so the blade wouldn’t damage the layer of fiberglass inside the case.

Then I followed it up with a trim router and a flush cut bit to make a nice neat slot for the centerboard.

Skipping ahead a bit, I started cutting out the pieces for the cap.

I simply glued these together with thickened epoxy. I put a trash bag underneath so any drips wouldn’t glue it to the boat.

Finally I drilled and countersunk a bunch of holes to screw it down. The glue joints don’t need to be particularly strong since this piece will rarely be taken off and there’s no load on it.


Later I welded up a catch and protective pad from 316 stainless steel to hold the board in the up position. Previously I looped the line on the handle around the centerboard pivot bolt which was awkward at best.

3 thoughts on “Centerboard Case

  1. Thanks for the detailed build on your centerboard trunk. I’m rebuilding my 40 year old dory/skiff and changing from a centerboard to a daggerboard and was looking for ideas. Your description fits the bill perfectly. Even though I’m doing a daggerboard, the case construction will be very similar. Thanks again.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Love your website. After contemplating and buying the plans for a Saturday Night Special, I am in the early stages of a First Mate build. Frames and bulkheads are cut out, centreboard is glued and shaped, centreboard case is ready to glue up, mast is done and spar is done. I was thinking of the sprit rig but it seems very busy, and that has put me off to some degree. Going with the balanced lug.

    Would you do the centreboard any differently if you had your build time again? Any thoughts about an alternative to the metal rod? I can’t help but think that it will get in the way if the board is half way up… Another question. Did you paint the centreboard and the inside of the case? Mine is already a bit of a tight fit and I am worried it will jam. (I could always make the case end logs a bit wider.)

    All the best, and please document Longsteps if you go down that path. It’s a great looking boat.

    • Must have missed your comment in my emails, sorry! The sprit rig really is a labor of love and the balanced lug will definitely be a lot easier to handle.

      I’m pretty happy with the centerboard arrangement and I haven’t had much trouble with things catching on the handle. Early on I bent it a few times when it was tied halfway down and I ran aground, so now I just let it float if I’m getting into shallow water. Perhaps a weighted board and an uphaul through a pulley would be a bit safer. I did paint the inside of the trunk a bit, mainly to protect the epoxy from any UV damage coming through the hole in the cap. Mostly I just smeared a hotdog paint roller around. My board is a pretty loose fit and I’ve occasionally wondered if I made the case too wide.

      I’ll definitely document Long Steps when I get to it! Currently converting the hand drawn plans to CAD and building a 3d model so I can get an idea of what I’m doing before I waste some expensive plywood!

      Good luck on your build and let me know how it goes!

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