How to Build Center Consoles for Boats

Written by will charpentier
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Creating a centre console for your boat, whether as a replacement for a console that's been damaged or one that's simply worn out, is like building a box. The difference is that one side and the top can be removed for access to the interior, and the top slants toward the rear of the boat for drainage of any water that overwhelms the sides of the boat and splashes onto the console. Caulked seams and a fibreglass cover complete the project. Begin by drawing up a plan, including the dimensions of the new centre console.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw
  • Marine plywood
  • Rright-angle braces
  • Drill
  • 5/8-inch tapered drill bit
  • No. 5 wood screws, 1.25 inches long
  • Marine epoxy resin
  • Fibreglass mat
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Putty knife
  • 320-grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Measure and cut the top panel of the console from 3/4-inch marine plywood. Measure and cut the forward panel of the console from a sheet of 3/4-inch marine plywood. The height and width of the forward panel should equal that expressed by the console plans. Measure and cut the rear panel of the console from a sheet of 3/4-inch marine plywood. The rear panel's width should equal the width the front panel, but the rear panel height is 3 inches less than that of the front panel.

  2. 2

    Measure and cut two equal-sized pieces from a sheet of 3/4-inch marine plywood to form the side panels of the console. The panels' width should be that of the depth of the planned centre console. The forward edge of each piece should equal the planned height of the console, that is, equal to the height of the forward panel. The rear edge of the panel is 3 inches shorter than the height of the forward panel.

  3. 3

    Assemble the console by attaching five right-angle braces on each side of the front panel (use the screws supplied with the braces), each 3/4 inch from the edge of the sides of the panel. Attach the sides to the right-angle braces so the top and bottom of each side panel is even with the top edge of the front panel and the face of each side panel is even with the outer side edge of the front panel.

  4. 4

    Align the left edge of rear panel with the rear edge of the left side panel. Drill four holes with a 5/8-inch tapered drill bit through each side of the rear panel into the edges of the side panels. The holes should be 1.25 inches deep. Repeat this operation for the right side of the rear panel. Secure the rear panel to the side panels with No. 5 wood screws, each 1.25 inches long.

  5. 5

    Stand the console upright and set the top panel, the dash board, in place on the angled end of the console. Keep the dashboard in place by duct taping the front edge of the dash to the front panel of the console. Drill four holes, each 1.25 inches deep, on each side of the dashboard, into the edges of the console with a 5/8-inch tapered drill bit. Secure the dashboard to the edges of the panels of the console with No. 5 wood screws, each 1.25 inches long.

  6. 6

    Mount the completed centre console on the boat, and remove the rear console. Caulk all seams of the front and side panels of the console with marine silicone caulk. Remove the rear panel. Drill and cut all openings for controls and instruments.

  7. 7

    Apply marine epoxy resin to all exterior surfaces of the pedestal. Lay sheets of fibreglass mat on the resin, and use a putty knife to work the fibreglass mat into the resin. Allow the fibreglass to cure for one hour, then apply more resin and more fibreglass mat, sanding between each layer with 320-grit sand paper, until you have applied three layers of fibreglass. Sand the finished surface with 320-grit sandpaper.

Tips and warnings

  • When working with fibreglass, always wear gloves and safety glasses.
  • Do work involving epoxy resins in a well-ventilated area.

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