Remaking the Filler Boards

My original design for filler boards didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.  I had purchased 3/4″ pine, planed it down to 5/8 and trimmed to fit.

DSC00423However, one of the boards split right down the center.  This did little to inspire confidence.    I considered making all the boards out of baltic birch plywood, but this would have been quite heavy.  I went back to Home Depot and looked around for an alternative.  And there she was, staring at me from the dusty, orange lumber rack:  Number 1, straight grain, clear poplar.  She was tall, straight, with nice color variegation and no knots.  Perfect 10.

DSC00426 The boards are soft, lightweight and beautiful.  DSC00424Like the earlier design, I cut one hole in the center of each board.  This works very well for one handed installation and removal.  I left the boards a full 3/4″ but rounded fore and aft edges.  I left the port and starboard edges square for a good fit into the seat edge groove.

DSC00418When storing, I place all the boards onto the aft sole hatch.DSC00417The hatch holds the boards up off floor.  This gap allows me to slip the 3′ river-straps around the boards with ease.

DSC00421I then grab the strap tails to slide the boards back into position.  The straps also cushions the boards slightly and holds them up off the floor.  This will minimize road vibration and wear, as the straps isolate the boards from the floor.  And, there is just enough room for a storage bin to sit on top of the boards, under the seat.  The height of the cam buckles keeps the storage bin from sliding forward.

DSC00420Yet, can easily be pulled up and over the buckles for easy access.

I love organizing my boat.  The efforts I’m making now, will make my sailing trips more comfortable and enjoyable.  Now on to the 4 purpose bailing bucket.  Can you guess the 4 different purposes?

How to handle an Inside Job

I used a router to create an inside edge along the seat extensions.  This edge provides a place for the seat filler boards to rest when spanning from seat to seat for sleeping on your Scamp.  The router more like ripped the wood out as opposed to cutting it.  I think the problem was the grain of the wood.  I used vertical grain douglas fir.  I have noticed before that it’s grain pattern is often a problem even when trying to simply round over it’s edges.  This created quite a mess on the edge of the seat extensions.  They were uneven, ripped too deeply in places and pretty much a mess.  Yes, the bit was sharp…in fact, brand new.  And, yes, I tried to remove only a little at a time by adjusting the bit as I went.  It ripped and fractured the vertical grain douglas fir like you wouldn’t believe.

I thought long and hard about the proper way around this problem.  How do you reach an inside corner to work it properly?  I’m not that good with a chisel and the results wouldn’t be consistent.

I’ll tell you how, with a Lie Nielson shoulder plane.  

DSC00416I’ve always secretly wanted a shoulder plane, but I try not to buy a tool unless I have an actual need for it.  Well, the need had arisen.  I got on the internet and made my purchase.  These are not cheap but one will last several life times.  

DSC00419Lie Nielsen recommends the large plane as your first shoulder plane purchase.  It has plenty of heft and mass in your hand and slides smoothly along for consistent cutting.

DSC00421It cleanly shaved off all the high spots, removing material cleanly and effectively.

DSC00417I still need to fill a few areas with thickened epoxy where the router ripped the grain to deeply but things are looking much, much better.


  1. These plane are designed to run in the vertical and horizontal position…both edges being square to each other.  This makes it very easy and effective to clean up both surfaces.
  2. It felt secure in my hand and worked like a fine hand tool should.  I am very impressed.
  3. The seat extensions are not perfectly parallel to each other.  When inserting the filler boards, I noticed a gap of 1/8″ – 1/4″ plus.  This makes it hard to get a good fit with the filler boards.  By using this shoulder plane, I was able to remove more material in some places, while leaving material in others.  My gap is now consistent across the entire seat edge, fore to aft.  This means I can recut new seat filler boards and they will all fit perfectly (in any order)  along the seats.  This alone is worth all the money I spent on this cool shoulder plane.
  4. Like a women, it’s beautiful.

I plan to remake my filler boards for a better, uniform fit between the seats.  I’m also considering using baltic birch instead of pine for the filler boards.  One pine board broke as I stood on it.  I want the filler boards to be bomber, so baltic birch ply it will probably be.  

Filler Boards for Sleeping

During the Palooza Crooza, I watched Simeon, Jeff, Sergei and Tyler all sleeping aboard their Scamps.  I was in such a hurry to finish Shackleton that I skipped this step, telling myself instead that I didn’t want to sleep aboard such a tiny ship and the I would simply sleep on the ground.  After watching these guys sleep on their boats, I knew I wanted to be able to do the same.

Plus, being able to sleep aboard Scamp adds to the versatility of this little micro cruiser and takes the vessel in a whole new dimension.  Finally, what man doesn’t want to sleep on his boat…all real men aspire to such high and noble callings in life. 

I told you there were 49 things I wanted to do to my boat…I wasn’t kidding.

DSC00416Lance testing the filler boards.  I’m planning to raise up a lot of sailers in my family.

DSC00425Abby is utilizing the foot well underneath.  This would provide a very low center of gravity dining position.

DSC00430I chamfered the edges to transition between the seat height and the filler board thickness.


Steps I took:

  1. I grooved out the seat extensions with a router (3/8″ wide by 1/2″ deep).  This was actually very difficult.  The router wanted to split the vertical grain Douglas Fir.  It would have been much easier to do this step on a table saw prior to installation, but I got it done.
  2. I then purchased 3/4″ x 12″ pine shelving from Home Depot.  I cut this to fit between the seats.  It took 7 pieces.
  3. I planed the filler boards to a heavy 5/8″.  This cleaned them up and lightened them just a bit.
  4. I then used my table saw to chamfer the top edge to transition between the seat height and the thickness of the filler boards.  This matches the look of my seat hatches.
  5. I then used a 1/8″ round over bit to soften all the edges.
  6. I also cut a 1, 1/4″ hole in the center of each board.  This allows me to reach in with two finger and remove the boards one handed.
  7. They are all designed to stack against the rear transom when not in use.  I will utilize a river strap to secure them in the event of a capsize.


I’m going to design a custom filler board at the transom.  This board will have cup holder cut outs, anchor storage and extra fuel containers built into it’s design.  I also plan to fix this board in place.  I also plan to design a stop at the front end of the seats to prevent the boards from slipping forward and out of position.  Lots to do, but all good stuff.