In this (my first) instructable i want to tell you about the method i used to create a cheap(er) new decking for my boat, the technique can be used for other uses than decking, it's the actual look and methods used to achieve this look that i'll be documenting.
Any constructive feedback is more than welcome, as said, this is my first instructable and English isn't my native language.

Here in Holland, and probably around the globe, real Teak wood is becoming more and more expensive. For the average boat-owner with a tendency for the DIY (you wouldn't be on instructables otherwise would you?) there are alternatives however!

I first looked at the 'plastic' teak look-a-like, you'll get tons of hits googling for 'fake teak'. This still isn't cheap however, if you do all the measuring and applicating yourself, the price is still nearing the $1000 mark for the surface area shown in this instructable. It does have the distinct advantage of being lower-maintenance than any wood solution, but i feel it lacks that genuine feel you can only get with real wood.

So the obvious choice for me was to see if i could find another solution using just the tools available to me, i ended up using:

- Rotary router
- Routing bits (3 pieces, explained later)
- Power saw
- Sanding paper in different corseness
- Woodworking pencil
- Guide (long ruler or straight piece of wood)
- Tape measure
- Clamps
- Eraser

Apart from the router this should be available to everybody by looking in the garage. Routers aren't cheap, i borrowed mine from my father, and i would advise borrowing a more expensive model rather than buying a cheap one. Cheap routers can be a pain to work with, but it's up to you.

For the materials i ended up using 15mm waterproof plywood. I don't know how to translate this to english, but we call it 'watervast verlijmd multiplex', there are different wood-types available, i choose Ocoume, because it has a very nice wood-grain.

On the next page we'll get into the measuring and drawing part, where it gets interesting!

Step 1: Measuring, Measuring and Drawing

As with any project, the old saying 'measure twice, cut once' applies here too, both when preparing the sheets for fitting and when drawing the outlines for the router, precision here will pay off later.

I first took the sheets and cut the outlines i measured in the boat, using some of the old decking, the more intricate bends were traced. This comes down to just being precise and carefully think it all over before you actually start cutting.

Before you can actually start drawing the outline to be cut you have to make a plan as to which sheet goes where, the most important thing here is to remember the direction of the  grain of the wooden sheets! With plywood the grain runs lengthwise, you will want to route along the grain most of the time (lengthwise). When trying to figure out how to place the sheets, keep this in mind.

When you have rough-cut the sheets, start to test the fitment in the boat, this might take a couple of tries, but you better be carefull, removing excess wood is easier than adding it when you cut too much. In my case all but one sheet were dead-on, the final sheet had to be trimmed a little due to the boat not being perfectly symmetrical. No boat is, so keep that in mind!

When the boards fit exactly as they should, we are ready to draw the outlines for routing!

As i want to show with the example photo of teak decking, real teak is comprised of separate planks, so that's the look we want to achieve from our solid board. To do this, choose a size for the 'outer' plank, this plank runs across the entire outline of the deck, at least in a real teak deck. For my deck i chose 7cm wide. Also choose a size for the inner planks, again, i opted for 7cm, but you can pick any size you want, as long as you make it consistent in the entire deck!

I drew the plans for the placement of the boards and outlines as a sketch in my notepad and then transferred them to a nicer sketch on the computer, use this as a reference! (Wouldn't it be nice to have a sheet-size portal CNC router...). I have those documents on another pc, i'll add them just for reference.

Now pick up your guide and trace the first outline around the entire deck (not neccesarily the outline of each board, the outline of the deck can be a totally different thing!) using the first size you decided upon. See the attached image for reference.
When you have that outline, determine where you want any hatches to be, these should never cross into the outline 'plank'. It might help to keep the next step in mind when deciding on size and location, but you should make some rough lines now to help you decide on the location. Also keep the structure beneath the deck in mind when doing this, it would do any good to have a hatch with a support beam running down the middle.

With the hatches roughed in, measure and draw lines for the planks that fill the deck, using a centerline and working outwards to both sides is the most effective way, if you want to, you can also add some decoration there, and if you need more than 2 boards side by side, the centerline is the best place to join them (see attached photo for my solution).

Now with the planks all drawn out, start to enhance the lines, start by finalizing the hatches, on real teak decking it is common to have boards running along the outlines of the hatch as well, so start by adding a plank around the outline of the hatch, use the same size as the outline plank for the entire deck to keep things in line with each other. When doing the hatches, round the corners using anything that has a radius to your liking (i used a coffee cup). You will cut the hatch along the outermost outline and using this bend, but you can draw the box rectangular for easy measuring. See the attached picture for reference.

Make sure the planks on the deck run across the inside of the hatch, this will give nice clean lines!

Now, when attaching real teak planks in a corner joint, carpenters will always use a 45 degrees cut to join the planks, add a 45 degree diagonal line to EVERY corner in the deck. In some point i had to cheat a little and the line was not 45 degrees, but from exact inside to outside of the 'plank', in the centerline i used a more agressive angle to create the 'diamond' centerplank. Feel free to experiment, so far, any mistakes can be solved with an eraser.

When you are completely satisfied with outline you have drawn, it's time to move to the next step: routing!

<p>Excellent work and good idea. Its been a few years now - would be interesting to know how its held up. If still good, has it needed any heavy maintenance? </p>
Thank you, it has held up very nice over the years, we lightly sanded and then varnished it one year after the original instructable and we don't need any touch ups now. I will say it pays to invest in marine grade plywood, else water would get in the seams and destroy the wood.
<p>Beautiful work! Really nice concept and execution. I do have a question. Since I imagine that the routed grooves penetrate the outer layer of the plywood I am wondering how the deck is standing up to weather? I am particularly interested if the grooves have remained waterproof.</p>
Hi Alan,<br><br>this was a concern for me as well. I have coated the wood three times with varnish and it holds up really well. It has been on board for two years now, it's not directly exposed to the elements, but it definately got wet and it still looks good.<br><br>I would suggest lightly sanding and re-varnishing the wood every 2 years depending on use.<br><br>I'll see if i can snap a picture in the coming weeks to show the wear.
I believe in North America, A-B-A Grade Plywood is the only kind that is suitable for marine applications. <br> <br>Feel free to correct me, anyone.
Number of marine grade Baltic Birch Plywoods are available in the states.
It looks great, but the grain patterns are a dead giveaway.
Very true, but after the first 2 rounds of staining the grooves turn a lot darker. On first impression everybody believes it to be separate planks. The grain on ocoume is actually pretty fine, so on first look it's hard to distinguish. But i totally agree it's obvious on closer inspection. Still, i'm very pleased with the end result.
I'm not knocking your work in the slightest bit, I'm especially impressed by your router skills. I used to work for Teakdecking Systems fabricating these floors, so I guess I'm a bit biased against the plywood idea.
I'm not offended :) <br>You are absolutely right, if i could afford it i would have gone with real teak, but prices are very very high now. The results are very good looking and for me what matters is that i'm happy with it. I'm sure a lot of boat owners will be happy too with the end result of this method, but real teak is still something beautifull.

About This Instructable




Bio: Your friendly neighborhood Software Engineer with an interest in...everything interesting! Projects range from computer software/hardware to woodworking...
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