Swing Down Suspended Table w/Shelves
Background: This project was in it's infancy when I completed my last contrarian project over a year ago - An extended bunk on the short seat cushion port side (adjacent to stove unit). The extended bunk greatly improved sleeping arrangements. Check out the design accessed from the main page of this website. It should be called "Cabin Improvements (Part One) - Extended Bunk". The extended bunk had one negative. It prevented use of the original table since there was no longer a space to utilize the support leg. I spent the next several months considering my table options and that's how the suspended table was born -. "Cabin Improvements (Part Two) - Swing Down Suspended Table w/Shelves".
The later model Cat 25s have a large, heavy white table latched to the main cabin bulkhead. In order to set it up, it is unlatched, lifted, usually awkwardly, and then carefully positioned and seated into the bulkhead support brackets. Sometimes, the table would lift out of those brackets unless optional stops were purchased and installed.. A number of owners have made table top improvements migrating to smaller, lighter table tops with wood finishes and sometimes with swing down features. Oftentimes, the support leg was re-used. But for those that have found the support leg an interference or have a bunk extension that inhibits use of a support leg or for those that just want a different table derived from "thinking outside the box" then the swing down suspended table may be the answer. It may be a stretch but it is sort of nautical in that it utilizes mini-stays and turnbuckles for the suspended support (and by the way, there is no stretch, it is quite secure) .
"Thinking Outside The Box" - Design & Features: Critical thinking went into how to install a secure table without using a leg support. Without solving the support issue, there was no starting this project. The goal was to suspend the table with no interference to pop top access, no cable interference to heads and shoulders and no bolting of supports that may disturb cabin top integrity. What worked ? Mirror clips ! Wide mirror clips fit into the cabin top gasket groove for the pop top. The cables are attached to the mirror clips with cable protectors or small SS fittings (from West Marine) and the other end fitted with galvanized mini-turnbuckles ($1.69/ea from Home Depot). The turnbuckle has a hook end that then attaches to the hinges bolted to the table end mid-span. The cables are fairly easy to install when the table is set up and are stored when the table is folded flush against the shelving that is adjacent to the bulkhead..
The swing down suspended table is only 33" long but functionally is almost as large as the original table. This is because the table is hinged ~ 51/2" out from the main cabin bulkhead and as a result the table can accommodate two adults on both the port and starboard sides. The table can easily swing down and it's end held by one cable. If the leaf is folded out, two additional cables provide support.. The added benefit is that shelving to store cups, condiments and other items is built into this design by utilizing the space adjacent to the cabin bulkhead. A book, chart or sailboat magazine(s) can be stored in the lowest section since a removable wood edge is located halfway up to contain the material. The other wood edges are adjacent to the shelves to retain shelf items. The edge guards are also easily removed to facilitate storing oversized items where the edge would make it difficult to place items on the shelf. The table with the leaf folded up and stored upright, fits flush with the shelf unit fully securing all items on the shelving. The stored appearance is one of a clean look fully utilizing the available space from just above the original table bulkhead supports to top of the main cabin bulkhead.
The Build: I started with a cardboard template of the table top trying out various suitable lengths and used string to get a feel for how the cabling was going to work best with minimal interference. As I progressed in the build, I would oftentimes bring freshly cut stock onboard for fit up check. The rule "measure twice and cut once" was expanded to include measure twice , cut template - perform template check. Then measure twice, cut, perform fit up check, measure twice, cut once and then repeat again and again.
Most parts for this project were purchased from Home Depot with exception of all table top hinges (stainless steel) which were purchased from West Marine.
The shelving and table stock supports are made of solid oak. I decided to go with oak finished plywood for the table top to reduce build time and material costs. The table stock supports are bolted to an end stock located on the other side of the cabin bulkhead by utilizing 3 carriage bolts. The nuts were recessed within the end stock. The shelf unit sides and shelves are joined together utilizing dowels and are attached to the table stock supports by dowels. Inexpensive bronze hinges are used to attach the shelf unit to the cabin bulkhead. The table top has oak finished tape applied to the edges. Hinges used for the cabling were through bolted with nuts recessed and plugged in the table top. The table top was stained with "Natural" Min-Wax finish for a lighter appearance. The shelves and table stock supports were stained with "Red Oak" Min-Wax finish to blend in cabin woodwork. Both the shelf unit and the table top were then painted with Min-Wax Helmsman Spar Urethane 3 times with fine sanding in between applications.
Then final day arrives - Everything has been previously fitted up at one stage or another...so there should be no surprises. Carriage bolts tightened, shelf unit dowels slipped into table support stock and shelf hinges installed to bulkhead. Check cable attachments, adjust turnbuckles.....Done !! Eat using the new table or go for a sail first - Your choice !
Table and Shelf Unit Main Parts:
2 - 3"x3"x 16" Oak table stock supports (attach to main cabin bulkhead)
1 - 2"x4"x16" Oak end stock (attach to other side of cabin bulkhead)
3 - 8" Galvanized or zinc carriage bolts
16"x33"x3/4" Finished oak plywood tabletop
16"x31"x3/4" Finished oak plywood leaf
27 1/2" SS Continuous (or piano style) hinge
3 - SS Hinges for table/cable support
2 - SS Hinges for table to table stock supports
3 - 1/8" clear vinyl covered multi-strand cable/wire ( < 34" long)
3 - Turnbuckles (w/hook and closed loop ends)
3 - Wide mirror clips