Make your own Dinghy Trestle (prop stand).

by  Steve Blackman

Introduction

This is a very useful and surprisingly easy to make dinghy park accessory that can be made at home using some scrap bits of wood from the shed and a few inexpensive hand tools. It replaces that pile of old tyres propping up the front of your dinghy with a robust and stable platform that you can rely on.

I used a simple Mitre saw set that you can pick up at any DIY store (or car boot sale) for most of the cutting; most of the other tools needed are in Picture 1. 

Picture 1 - the tools you need for this project
Picture 1 – the tools you need for this project
Materials
 I sourced most of the wood for my trestle from a couple of pallets and an old double bed base; OK it was a bit scruffy and not all quite straight, but it did the job. However, for the purists amongst you, here is a full wood list:
  • Legs-at least 78cm long, 3cm thick and 7cm wide.
  • Top- at least 60cm long (mine was 70cm), 4.5cm thick and 10cm wide.
  • End pieces (off cuts from legs if possible)-19 cm long.
  • Side supports- at least 62cm long, 2cm thick and 8cm wide (mine was 12cm).
  • End supports- at least 39cm long, 2cm thick and 8cm wide (mine was 12cm).
Instructions
The key principle here is that all of the pieces of wood are cut at an angle of 70º i.e. the sections can only go together one way. In effect, you are making the trestle from a kit which should ensure it comes out right. The legs, top and side support sections are cut to specific sizes, with the other components cut to fit once the basic structure is assembled. The sizes of the wood used can vary a little e.g. the width of the legs; you just adjust the width of the joint socket to compensate.

 1. Making the four legs fig-1 

  • Measure and mark up the wood for 78cm lengths.
  • Cut into the leg sections using the Mitre saw set at an angle of 70º, remembering to cut on the inside of the length marks, as in Figure 1. 
Picture 2v -The first cut, note the use of clamps to hold the wood in position, there are a couple more holding the Mitre box to the workbench.

Picture 2v -The first cut, note the use of clamps to hold the wood in position, there are a couple more holding the Mitre box to the workbench.

  • Mark the centre line of the leg at the top end and then add the 2nd (5cm) pencil line as in Figure 1. 
  • Put the 70º cut end of another leg against the bottom end of the pencil line.
  • Now you can easily draw the 3rd (70º angle) pencil line as in Figure 1.
  • Next, clamp the two legs together on the work bench and saw down the length of the 3rd line until you reach the point where it joins the second line (Picture 3).
Picture 3 - The 2nd cut.

Picture 3 - The 2nd cut.

Note the use of clamps to hold the two legs in position. Hold the side of the saw blade against the 70ºangled edge of the top leg while cutting.
  • Clamp a leg into the workbench and use a mallet and chisel to remove the excess wood as in Picture 4.
Picture 4 - Remove the waste wood with a chisel (gently does it) cutting away a little at a time. Don't try and chop it all out in one go!

Picture 4 - Remove the waste wood with a chisel (gently does it) cutting away a little at a time. Don't try and chop it all out in one go!

  • Then use a rasp file to remove the last of the surplus wood and get a tidy finish to the joint like the one in Picture 5.
Picture 5 - Removing the last of the excess wood with a rasp file, trim away the rough edges for a smooth finish!

Picture 5 - Removing the last of the excess wood with a rasp file, trim away the rough edges for a smooth finish!

 2. Cutting out the top

There are two ways of making the top; you can either make the shorter simpler 62cm type with the legs in the four corners or, the slightly more complex 70cm version with the legs set in 4cm from the ends. It is a little more difficult to cut the leg/top joints in the inset version, due to an extra saw cut per joint. However, the extra length does allow the addition of an additional top support to strengthen the structure. Again, the rasp file comes in handy to remove any wood that is difficult to chisel out.

 fig-2Clamp the wood into the mitre box (set at 90 degrees) and cut to the required length.

  • Add the pencil lines for the leg/top joints as in Figure 2.
  • Next you have to cut out the wedge-shaped joint where the legs will attach. Cut along the side line of each joint, 1.6cm deep at the top tapering to zero at the base (as in picture 6).
 
Picture 6 - Cut with either the mitre saw or a Tenon saw like the one shown amongst the tools in Picture1. The cut is 1.6cm deep on the top edge.

Picture 6 - Cut with either the mitre saw or a Tenon saw like the one shown amongst the tools in Picture1. The cut is 1.6cm deep on the top edge.

  •  Use the mallet and chisel to remove as much of the excess wood as possible.
  • Use a rasp file to remove the last of the surplus wood and get a smooth finish to the joint like the one in Picture 7.

 

Picture 7 - Removing the last of the excess wood with a rasp file.

Picture 7 - Removing the last of the excess wood with a rasp file.

3. Side supports and final assembly

  • Cut the rectangular side supports to size (62cm long) with the mitre saw set to 90º.
  • Next, draw a line across the outside face of each leg 25cm from the foot; this marks where the bottom edge of the side supports will fit.
  • Attach each leg with a couple of 5cm nails as in Picture 8 (drill 3mm wide pilot holes for all nails to stop the wood splitting) these will hold the legs in place but still allow a little adjustment. Once assembly is complete, add a couple of 7.5cm nails to lock the legs in to place.
  • Attach the side supports, aligning the ends with the outside of the legs and the bottom edge with the pencil line. This should ensure the legs are “true”.
  • Stand up the trestle and check alignment; all four feet should be flat on the floor, adjust by sitting (carefully) on the trestle and wriggling a bit – honestly it works!
  • Hold the wood for the end supports in position and mark for length; you should end up with two 70º cuts to make.
  • Cut the end supports to size and attach with 5cm nails as before.
Picture 8 - Attach the legs with a couple of 5 cm nails.

Picture 8 - Attach the legs with a couple of 5 cm nails.

  • Finally, for the longer model option, hold the wood for the top supports in position and mark for length; you should end up with two 70º cuts to make.
  • Cut to size and secure with a couple of 7.5cm nails.
  • That’s it; job done, it should now look just like the one in Picture 9.

 

Picture 9 - Here is one I made earlier. Make sure you soak yours in preservative every year to make it last.

Picture 9 - Here is one I made earlier. Make sure you soak yours in preservative every year to make it last.

Responses

  1. […] few days ago his instructions for building a trestle appeared online on the HBBR website, and I thought they were so useful I should share them. Trestles like this are useful in boat […]


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