The versatile grate

It has been a very busy few months. Between riding out a hurricane (which fortunately for many of us, turned out to be less dramatic than forecast), a tropical storm a week later, then the delivery cruise to southern Maine, September sailing, and lastly pulling the boat for the season, I have not added much to this site lately. However, the creative stuff has still been lurking in the background. One example that I have been meaning to write about is wooden gratings.

Now if you are puzzled and wondering what a grating is, you have not seen enough old sailing movies. A grating is a wooden lattice made to create a deck, or place to stand while allowing air to circulate. Typically seen on old sailing ships and occasionally on fancy yachts, the wooden grating seems to have fallen out of favor. I suspect that this is the result of the perception that they are hard to make, or at least very labor intensive.

While I will admit that they do take some work to put together, they are actually quite simple to fabricate, rewarding to make, are a very efficient use of expensive woods, and I think, quite elegant looking.

As is the case on this site, I am not going to write specific how-to instructions, but I will say that the basic idea is to make strips of wood, square in cross section, that are identical to one another and that are notched on one side. The notches are the exact width of the thickness of the wooden strip, and a depth exactly half that dimension. Additionally, the notches are placed that same width apart, that is to say, the width of the wood strip’s thickness.

section of grating

section of grating

Once you have enough of these strips, they interlock into one another to make a wooden grating. You can glue the strips together; frictions fit them, or back up the joints with fasteners if you so choose, but in my opinion, this last option is both unnecessary, and can actually weaken the grating. Anyway, you get the idea. On to the good stuff…

What I really want to write about is the usefulness and versatility of gratings. To begin with I have used them as shelf stock where air circulation would be halted by solid shelves.

gratings for shelves

gratings for shelves

Another place that gratings presented a perfect solution is in the bottoms of the cockpit storage. This is a place where the bilge of the boat sweeps in down towards the keel. Even fairly large object stowed incautiously in these spaces tended to end up down in the bilges. Anything stowed in this space was lying directly on the planking not allowing for air circulation, which in a wooden boat is a bad thing. By making and placing a grating into these spaces, we were able to increase air circulation in these spaces and make storage much simpler.

cockpit storage

cockpit storage

Another example of a place where a grating was a perfect solution for us is the boarding step we made to make getting aboard easier from the tender.

landing step

landing step

step seen from the water

step seen from the water

If you would like the actual dimensions go to this article: Coming Aboard

And did I mention that gratings look good? So much so in fact that I took some left over stock from making shelves and made this trivet.



Another decorative use was the coffee table that I just made for the porch at the cottage where I live.

coffee table

coffee table

So there you have it, the adaptable, functional, and beautiful wooden grate.


4 Responses to “The versatile grate”

  1. ROXY MARJ Says:

    beautiful work!

  2. Christopher Kerry Says:

    Good day Ted, a master of wood you are. I just wanted to drop a line and say HI.
    You may not remember be but I was part of the last “ALEC” course at Solo. We had a hand drawn group picture. I also helped plant the row of trees on the left side of the Round House. You are someone that has left a lasting impression in a short time. I am glad you are still following your dream and creating wonderful pieces. Now that I have found this blog, I will drop in and read. I wish you well.

  3. dovetails Says:

    Thanks for your kind words Christopher. It is great to hear from you and I am glad you found this site,

  4. Steven Herbeck Says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas with regards to grating. I will incorporate grating in the floating bottom-shelf of an aquarium stand I am designing …should add to the overall design and introduce a nautical element.

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