A Place To Store Dishes

How Our Cabinet Idea Came About

We decided that we needed someplace to store our dishes. I didn’t want yet another tote to trip over.  There were a few options.  We could store them in the area under the sink.  However, it  was not  a place you want to store dishes.  It was more of place to put dirty tools.  Putting them under the seats in the hatches meant that I would have to move all the  seat cushions to get a plate or bowl.  All these options seemed unworkable.

If you have ever been on a sailboat,  you know that a shelf is no option. Anything that isn’t glued down or secured in someway is going to learn to fly.  I don’t care how unbreakable your dishes are supposed to be, they will break.  Nothing is safe unless it is made of rubber and can bounce off the walls.

I sat in the boat and looked around.  There was all this unusable wall space above the sink.  There had to be something we could do with all that. Enter hubby and the answer.

Think Think Think

We tossed around all sorts of ideas. A shelf with a railing to hold things in.  A container on the wall for the plates to slide down into.  I had found these adorable dishes at Amazon, they needed to be seen and enjoyed.

So, Dave came up with the idea of a cabinet where they could all be secure. A simple china cabinet, if you will.   Also, you can see how this cabinet actually gave the wall behind the sink more support.

What Floats Your Boat

When working on your boat, do not remove any of the flotation foam located in the walls or ceiling. I know it is tempting to remove just a little so you can fit that cool cd player in,  but don’t do it. When we bought our boat, one of the first things we had to do was rewire. The electrical system hadn’t been used and from age it was all corroded. We had to go into the walls to run the wires. We noticed that some of the styrene had turned to just a bunch of loose balls. It was almost 17 years old. We did replace some of it with new and even added more. It doesn’t hurt to add more, JUST DON’T REMOVE ANY! This is what floats your boat and prevents it from sinking.

The Design For Our Cabinet

I will give you a basic outline of how we built our cabinet. However, it will be different for you. It will depend on the space you have to work with  and the dishes you purchase.

Dave built the basic cabinet outline and then laid out the dishes to see how they would fit and how large each cubbyhole needed to be. This is where your dimensions will differ from ours.

Before Our Cabinet


Before the dish cabinet

On the back wall you can see the old mirror. The mirror was yellowed and cloudy. We took the mirror off and found that due to moisture we had some mold behind the mirror. This was pretty normal and wasn’t a big deal since we were planning to replace this old plywood with something nicer. Dave used the old plywood as a template for the new wall.

For the back of the cabinet we decided to go with yellow birch because when stained it looks the most like teak. It is also light weight.  We purchased a 4x8x 1/2 inch  sheet of yellow birch plywood. You don’t want it too thin, it will warp.   Too thick,  just adds unnecessary weight.  This would need to be finished on both side because, it would also become the wall in the bathroom.  The back of the cabinet wall is 40×30 inches. The acrylic mirror we purchased on Amazon was cut to the size we wanted 16×20. The dish cabinet measures 17×20 1/2.

I wasn’t crazy about this cabinet sticking out over my countertop. Space on a sailboat is at a premium.  Giving up my countertop space would not be a good trade off.  After a few days of thinking about it, Dave had the answer. There was space in the bathroom not being used for anything. It wasn’t going to be in the way,  so Dave built the cabinet into the bathroom about 3 inches. We now have a beautiful wood wall in  the bathroom.  In this picture you can also see the door where the bathroom garbage is stored. We explain how and why we did this in another blog.



How We Got The Dishes to Stay Put

So, I knew I wanted the dishes to show off. Above all, we wanted the dishes to stay in the holders. Now, we just had to figure out how. The whole dish cabinet measures 17x 20 ½ and is built out of 1×6 mahogony boards. The cubbyhole for the plates has slits cut for the plates to sit in. Dave then built and designed a little spring latch to keep them in place until I wanted to use them.  He used a small strip of teak wood with a hacksaw blade embedded into the top to give it the spring.  He also put a notch in the spring holder so it would catch on the first plate and hold it in place.

A Place For The Bowls

For the bowls he stacked them all behind the fold down door.  You simply open the door and there are your secure bowls ready to use. This measures just slightly larger than the bowls.  This carrier worked better than grooves for the bowls.  To hinge the door he used a piece of stainless threaded rod fit into embedded stainless steel nuts, so it can pivot. Always use stainless on a boat.  Rust stains are not a pretty decoration.

Cups Can’t Roll Around the Cabin

Next,  the problem  became what to do with the cups.  I didn’t want them swinging from hooks only to fall and break.  Dave used a hole saw and chisel to make a little rim for them to fit. They are really tight and have so far gone nowhere.  The indentations are deep enough to keep them  safe and secure.


The Silverware Was Too Pretty To Store Away


Our next challenge would be the silverware I found with a nautical pattern on it. I had to show that off too.

So he built a silverware holder at the bottom of the cabinet. This holder measure 9 1/2x 4. He cut a notch for each piece of silverware using a scroll saw.  Each piece of silverware slides in sideways then turns to sit in its own groove.

Dish cabinet

Too Much Space…Not Enough Cabinet

We were almost done. We didn’t need the dish cabinet to cover the whole wall but, we did need something under the cups.   Plus, the old mirror did reflect some light back into the cabin to brighten things up a bit.   It just made sense to measure the leftover space for an acrylic mirror and mount it next to the dish cabinet with 3M Spray glue.   We ordered a safety acrylic mirror from Amazon. Some places online called them play area mirrors.  They will flex with the boats movement and not crack.

Seal It!!  Mold is Not Your Friend

Remember that you will want to seal the wall behind it to prevent mold. So it is important to finish this area with stain and/or polyurethane before you install the mirror. For the stain we used Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain.   To get the teak look we wanted,  Dave wiped on the Colonial Maple and then went over it with English Chestnut while it was still wet.

We used a clear gloss indoor/ outdoor  polyurethane made by Helmsman.  You will want to make sure you use a high end marine polyurethane.  No, the cabinet will not be in direct contact with water but the moisture that collects in a boat can cause cheaper polyurethanes to bubble and peel.  Not a good look for your new gorgeous dish cabinet.

When you are staining and applying polyurethane on your wood don’t stop with what you can see. Make sure you get it on every edge you can’t see. Trust me moisture will find it’s way in and cause it to buckle up or worse yet grow mold. By sealing even the edges you can’t see,  you will have one less thing to worry about. We ended up putting about 6 coats of polyurethane on the cabinet.

My dishes can be enjoyed and used on a daily basis.  They do not slip or slide even when we are pulling the boat.  Trust me the roads in Illinois can be rougher than most lakes.