Look! I made me a DIY dinette! And it cost me just about Zero Pounds. Come, gather round. Let me tell you all about it.
Now, before we get started, a disclaimer. I realise that telling you how I improvised a dinette from the bits and pieces I had lying around in the boat is not very useful if you don’t have the same bits and pieces lying around in your boat. But if you are angling after a dinette, and are not prepared to pay upwards of £1000 to have one built, then with a bit of ingenuity you can make one yourself using two bench seats and a table top.
At the end of the previous thrilling instalment you will recall that I was about to get a saw…
This seems to be a cliffhanger moment
Well, let me tell you how that went. I thought about sawing. And then I thought: ‘Hell, naw.’ Then my generator wouldn’t work, so Steve the engineer turned up and spent an afternoon poking and prodding it until it did work. Hurrah. So at this point I said: well, if you’re any good at sawing…
The next day Steve showed up with a handsaw. Was I sure I wanted him to do this? he cautioned, before taking saw to wood. Yes, I was sure. ‘Just cut in half between the two drawers,’ I said. After all, in the worst case scenario I would take the useless berth to the tip, which was what I’d planned to do anyway before I thought of chopping it in half.
So Steve got sawing.
You didn’t saw it yourself why
Credit where credit’s due, even though I made some concerned frowny noises about ‘needing to draw a line first as a guide’, he sawed in a perfect straight line. (Whereas I would have made it look ‘like a dog’s hind leg’, as they say.)
‘Now what?’ says Steve, staring down at the hewn cadaver. ‘Now,’ says I, authoritatively, and almost as if I knew what I was doing, ‘we have to turn the two halves round. And hopefully, that will work.’ I tried to sound confident but did wonder whether the two halves would be too close together, or whether the drawers would open.
But lo! The space and size was perfect. Even Steve was surprised.
Frankly, it seemed as though it was meant to be.
This all seems remarkably serendipitous
I already had a suitable table lying about. When I bought the boat it was screwed to the cabin wall in the saloon, for reasons that were not apparent. I’d unscrewed it and left it languishing for months in the wardrobe. At one point I tried to move it onto the stern deck, where wasps started eating it. Once again it went back into the wardrobe. Now, though, the table was exactly the right size for the dinette. Remarkable! If only everything else in my life would fall into place so easily.
Then came the cushions. Made of foam, I took a breadknife to these and cut them in half. By another weird fluke of serendipity, the cushion that had formed the back of the seat now fitted perfectly between the two halves of the dinette benches. This means the dinette will still double as a bed (hopefully without the middle part of the mattress falling out during the night).
The usable dimensions of my midships cabin are 6ft by 4ft, and the existing wooden berth in the cabin was 6ft long and 29 inches wide – so a fair bit less than the width of a standard single bed, which is 36 inches. This gives me dining benches that are a generous depth, with plenty of room to get comfortable. I can either pile a load of scatter cushions and pillows to provide back support, or use a firm piece of foam cushioning. Benches can double as storage for extra bedding (or whatever you want to put in there).
Not being funny but it doesn’t look finished
And no, I haven’t got round to finishing all of this yet – at the moment my cushions are kind-of improvised (improvisation is my stock-in-trade) because I just haven’t had the time to do it properly. The table isn’t fixed to the wall so it’s a bit wobbly. The seat cushions aren’t properly covered, but are sort-of-wrapped in fabric while I decide what kind of look I want to go for.
But you catch my drift; the dinette thing is definitely coming together, even if it is still a work in progress. And especially when it didn’t cost me a thing.
And did I mention it didn’t cost me a thing? Oh I did mention that.