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19. Hatches - cutting out

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Now, that both sides of the deck are covered in fiberglass, the hatches or lids can be cut out. I like to build flush hatches for several reasons:

  • They look good
  • It is less labor-intensive
  • Water has no chance of prying the lid off
  • Little deck spray
  • Simple watertight seal

    The pattern from the plans is aligned and taped to the deck centerline and its contour is transferred.
    Both the front and rear hatch contours are on the same piece of paper. Use the pattern to do the large hatch first before it is trimmed.
For me, cutting hatches is probably the most nerve wrecking task of the entire project; much more than fiberglessing. A screw-up is difficult to fix.

Take your time here.

A good way to start the cut precisely is with a thin bladed razor saw. Create the smallest possible cut and make certain that it breaks all the way to the other side.
In order to insert the jigsaw, I use a sawzall blade to widen the slot.

Finally, as the cut passes through its half point it helps to hold the hatch lid in place with some duct tape. This reduces vibration and chances of the narrowing neck breaking off prematurely.

It is important to use a new sharp saw blade so that the fiberglass doesn't get snagged and ripped off the wood.

When the lid is free, it is aligned and taped back in position like before. The tape must hold the lid very securely and be only on the outside deck.

Now the deck is flipped inside up and work on the hatch seal can begin.


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Last page update: 9 May 2024