One common galley feature on production sailboats is a large open storage area behind the stove, typically covered with sliding plexi or wood panels. However, while this space provides a reasonably large amount of storage area, it is rarely efficiently used because of the odd shapes of most galley gear—think large plates staked only a few high. Inevitably, you end up piling many items on top of each other. Worse yet, the one you want is seemingly always on the bottom. Some boats have fixed wooden dividers, which helps, but requires that you buy gear that fits the spaces in between. With storage space in such short supply, it’s a shame not to use this space efficiently as possible.
My solution was to build a plywood locker bottom that fits on top of the existing bottom and then use a set of adjustable pegs, or “vertical organizers,” that can be placed to properly hold the gear. The pegs have a threaded stud in the bottom that screws into a stainless steel T-nut installed on the bottom of the new locker bottom. These allow you to adjust the pegs to fit any existing set of items. You can also easily adapt to any new galley gear by simply readjusting the pegs to fit. This is a relatively simple, easy to build project that does not require any sophisticated woodworking skills or tools and is relevant to many boats.
Here’s how I did it:
1. First, completely empty the locker and remove the sliding panels. (Most are removed by lifting the panel up and sliding the bottom of the panel outboard until it can be dropped down and out.) Make a paper pattern of the bottom of the entire locker, noting any obstructions inside the locker.
2. It is worthwhile at this point to take your paper pattern and see if it will fit into the locker opening when it is flat and stretched out full length. In most cases you will need to cut the plywood bottom into two or possibly more pieces to allow it to fit inside the locker through the opening.
3. Cut a piece of plywood (half-inch should work well) to match your pattern. A simple jigsaw will do the trick. For the edge that faces the hull, angling the jigsaw blade to approximately match the hull angle will allow your locker bottom to more completely fill the bottom of the locker. However, this is not essential.
4. This is the point where you want to determine, using the actual plywood bottom, how you will need to cut it so that you can fit it into the locker. Try inserting the plywood from multiple directions to find the best fit that requires the fewest cuts.
5. Once the bottom has been cut so that it fits into the locker, you can begin drilling holes through the plywood for the T-nuts. The specific pattern and spacing is up to you. I laid out mine in a square grid with 2in between centers.
6. Next, you need to install the T-nuts and finish the new bottom. I did the finishing first, but you can install the T-nuts first if you want. The nuts are installed by pounding them in from the bottom with a hammer. Use a block between the hammer and the nut to avoid damaging either the wood bottom or the nut itself.
7. Next, create the pegs. I used plain old wood dowel from the hardware store, cut into three different lengths. For the threaded studs you can use either threaded rod cut to length or machine screws with the head cut off. Make sure the thread matches the T-nut—10-24 is a good size. The trickiest part of this project is drilling the holes in the bottom of the pegs; they need to be approximately centered in the dowel and deep enough for the threaded stud. I made a little plywood jig to hold the pegs and align the hole while I drilled them. Once the holes have been drilled the studs can be inserted with epoxy to hold them in place and to keep them from turning. The stud should stick out enough to thread into the T-nut. If you use hald-inch plywood, the stud should stick out slightly less than ½in. If the studs are too long, they can be filed off or ground down once the epoxy has set up.
That done, you can install the new bottom and begin organizing your galley gear.