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Ericson 38--Revised Cabin Table, New Upholstery

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A cabin table that doubles as a conversion platform for a double berth needs to fill the space. I find that makes for an overlarge table which inhibits access to the banquette. My spouse disagrees, so maybe it's a personal thing.

I was going to make a new table, from scratch: just a piece of plywood covered with some teak veneer I had left over. Simple enough. And it would preserve the old table for the next owner, which seemed a noble idea.

To get the dimensions right I made a mockup out of particle board and found that only two or three inches off the sides changed everything, and still left enough table for the extremely few times (never, so far) that we have entertained six people seated for dinner below. Then I got to thinking about the trouble I have had edge-gluing expensive woods without long clamps and biscuit or dowel skills, about all the sanding and varnishing, and about the next owner. I have never met him or her, and wherever he or she is they have never sent me a letter or bothered to get in touch in any way, and are out there going about their lives as if I don't exist, so why should they?

So I put the cabin table on the table saw, chopped off the sides, and waited for the phone to ring with a complaint from the future. Not a word. It is proof again we must get on with things and quit bothering about the road ahead. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Home Depot has mahogany in various sizes in widths from 2" to 5 1/2", at quite reasonable rates. To make fiddles I just ran a router over them for a radius, mitered the ends, and screwed and plugged them on. A few coats of varnish and the new table is fine--and actually retains a spilled drink so you can soak it up, rather than have it pour in your lap, as with the factory version.

The base and tube were pretty battered looking after 32 years, so I cleaned them with paint remover, sanded with Interlux PreKote, and applied three coats of Brightside Hatteras Off-White. They look new.

Being able to slide under the table easily makes all the difference, at least to me.


There are a lot of cushions on our boats.

Fourteen, I think is the count. The previous owner had renewed the upholstery only a few years ago, but after living with them for a month, well, not everyone's taste is the same. I wanted some form of blue, with piping. I did not want to make them myself on my Singer 15-91, which although possible would take me months. An upholsterer bid $1300, which I thought was a bargain. The fabric was about $15 a yard--it's not Sunbrella, which I find uneccessary below. The bottoms are white Naugahyde. Thirty yards of fabric and 30 yards of Naugahyde were required. The piping is white Naugahyde too, which the upholsterer recommended and came out quite a success.

The foam was new and didn't have to be changed, but it now seems too firm for sleeping unless you're used to a hardwood floor. The density of foam is important. I'm going to have to change some of ours. [See foam hardness solution here ]

Choosing the color was not as simple as I expected. It's easy to go too dark, since our boats are relatively dark below already. I had a dozen color swatches on board for a week or two, and kept changing my mind. The issue is complicated by the fact that the Internet provides misleading color information, and the only way to get an idea what you want is to see the actual fabric in place. In these photos, for example, the piping stands out much more than in reality, and the blue is not really so hysterically blue.

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  1. Allen Jenneman's Avatar
    Excellent choice IMHO...I also revised my dining table to make it much smaller and the next step is the cushions for us also...Really like your color choices Christian nice job !!
  2. Rick R.'s Avatar
    Looks great and the piping is a nice touch. Those folks from the future thank you for letting the upholsterer do the sewing since they wouldn't know what a Singer is unless she's gyrating at the microphone.
  3. ofshore74's Avatar
    Top quality work. Nicely appointed cabin now.
  4. Alan Gomes's Avatar
    Very nice. I agree that $1300 is a bargain. Can you pass along the contact info for the person who did your upholstery? I presume he/she just used your old cushions as templates.
    Updated 08-13-2016 at 02:37 PM by Alan Gomes
  5. eherlihy's Avatar
    The interior looks GREAT!

    I agree that the $1300 bid is a bargain. Who was this craftsman?

    I was quoted $10,000 (not a typo) for new cushions and covers for the 15 cushions on my O'day 35... Needless to say, I have been living with old, flat cushions, and worn 30 year old covers.
  6. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Thanks. The upholsterer is a local guy, skilled independent, who has done many chairs and couches for us. I'm sure he has never been on a sailboat in his life.

    And of course the fabric and Nauga wasn't included, and we used the existing foam. Lotsa cushions. He had to rent a truck to pick up and deliver.
    Updated 10-10-2016 at 10:41 AM by Christian Williams (independent not independant)
  7. csoule13's Avatar
    The table looks particularly good. Any guesses on the material Ericson used?
  8. Christian Williams's Avatar
    It's teak, even though reddish. The current Home Depot mahogany is actually a good match. That's what the new fiddles are.
    Updated 11-18-2016 at 11:55 AM by Christian Williams
  9. Filkee's Avatar
    Can you tell me the type/manufacturer of the fabric you used? I have a local who can do for about the same price, but I'm a little lost on choosing materials.
  10. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Filkee
    Can you tell me the type/manufacturer of the fabric you used? I have a local who can do for about the same price, but I'm a little lost on choosing materials.
    Any material you like will do. Basically it's a couch. If a boat leaks, well, it's an outdoor couch....