How to Build Window Frames for Boats

Written by will charpentier
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The windows on a boat, whether fixed glass or sliding windows, are sealed units designed and manufactured to maintain the watertight integrity of the vessel under a variety of conditions. Shaped like rectangles or parallelograms, they also may be extremely unattractive, which means that you, the tasteful, appearance-conscious boat owner, will want to give them an "overcoat" of wood--or a wood alternative--to avoid the look of industrial chic in your boat's salon.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Jigsaw
  • Marine adhesive
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Marine caulk
  • Putty knife
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Paint or stain

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  1. 1

    Measure the sills--"the horizontal member at the base of the window," according to Webster's Dictionary--first, for length and depth with your tape measure. Even the most advanced of boat windows have a sill that's of uniform width from the glass to the edge of the window unit sill. Once you know the depth and length of the sill, use a jigsaw to cut a simple rectangular piece of laminate wood to those dimensions.

    Measure the head jamb--the equivalent of the sill, at the top of the window--for length and depth as well and use the jigsaw to cut another piece of laminate wood to those dimensions.

    Use marine adhesive to glue the head jamb and sill in place on the inner surface of the watertight window unit.

  2. 2

    Measure the sides of the windows for length and their depth to the glass. Since the sill and head jamb are already in place, subtract twice the thickness of the laminate wood from the measurement of the side trim pieces so the sides will fit between the head jamb and the sill without additional adjustments.

    Use marine adhesive to attach the side trim pieces to the inner surface of the watertight window.

  3. 3

    Measure for the window surrounds--the part of the window that faces into the room and surrounds the window frame by measuring the length of the window and adding the planned width of the window surround to each end of the measurement. If the window is 60 inches long and you want the window framed by 4 inches of wood, the bottom and top parts of the window surround must be 68 inches long: 60 inches + 4 inches on the left + 4 inches on the right = 68 inches.

    Use the jigsaw to cut two pieces of wood 68 in. long; then, so that the elements of the surround don't butt together, mitre the edges. A mitre--again from Webster, is "where a joint is made by cutting two pieces at an angle and fitting them together." (REFERENCE 3) If the window is rectangular, cut the ends of the wood at 45 degree angles, so that the long edge of the wood is still 68 in. and the shorter edge of the wood is the edge that will be nearest the window opening.

    Repeat this process for each side of the surround, as well

  4. 4

    Attach each piece of the window surround to the wall--the "bulkhead," in nautical parlance--individually, using finishing nails and a hammer.

    Use a coloured marine caulk that matches the wood laminate to seal the joints at the mitred corners of the window surround and the joints between the interior facings and the window surround and use a putty knife to scrape excess caulk away, leaving a level surface. Put a dab of caulk on the indentations in the window surround where the finishing nails penetrate the surround and, with the putty knife, remove excess caulk so the surface of the wood laminate is level.

    Allow the caulk to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • While a wood laminate may require no sanding, a solid wood surround should be lightly sanded with 220 grain sandpaper and a sanding block, sanding with (in the direction of) the grain of the wood. After sanding, caulk as instructed and stain or paint as desired.
  • This project involves the use of power tools. Appropriate cautions are urged.

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