Mill Creek 16.5: Any tips on traditional slatted seats?

Mill Creek 16.5 tandem manual doesn't have much to say about the traditional slatted wooden seats that are included with the kit, and I've got a few questions:

1.  Tips for laying out the slats?  Getting the spacing right (appearance and comfort) and perfectly consistent on both ends of the slat seems a little uncertain. 

2.  Finishing - there's no reference to finishing these wooden seats.  They are not a fixed part of the boat.  Do they need epoxy before varnish?

Anyone out there done these with success?


4 replies:

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RE: Mill Creek 16.5: Any tips on traditional slatted seats?

   I have assembled the slat seats that came with my 16.5 but haven't finished them yet - for now I have two Creature Comfort seats in the boat. For slat spacing I followed the drawing that came with the kit to get the slats closest to the intersection of the seat and the back in the position as shown on the drawing. Also the top slats of the seat backs and the forwardmost slats of the seat bases. The drawings are to scale so this is straightforward. For the rest of the slats I positioned them all without nailing them down and adjusted the spacing until it looked right, using my calibrated eyeball. Then marked their positions with a pencil and nailed and epoxied them in place, one at a time. Marking with a pencil is important as the slats will move out of place while you are nailing. Sitting on the assembled seat on the garage floor they feel like they will work fine. I plan to epoxy the seats with one or two coats and then varnish. The Creature Comfort seats are OK but I think the slat seats might offer more back support, we'll see. A time crunch led to the purchase of the CC seats, if the slat seats work better I may have two CC seats for sale soon. 

RE: Mill Creek 16.5: Any tips on traditional slatted seats?

  @JohninSD - Thanks.  More or less what I've settled on.  Bound the 4 rail pieces together and marked lines at 1" spacing with a square so they'd be true and evenly spaced, not quite trusting my poorly calibrated and aging eyes.  Made a little jig to drill the 88 pilot holes in the slats efficiently and true.

Not sure what I think of the flat head machine screw for the pivot between back and seat - doesn't seem right.  So, off to the Home Improvement Center for a round or pan head stainless alternative.  Likewise the flat head wood screws for attaching cross bars - countersinking in plywood that thin seems a little dicey.

You got a drawing of the seats in your kit?  I got nothing...  just the pieces.  

RE: Mill Creek 16.5: Any tips on traditional slatted seats?

 The seats look and work great.  I followed more or less the same process (though mine came with full size plans). 

A couple of things to note from my experience - my kit did not have any sort of adjustable buckle to connect the straps from the top of the seat back to the shear clamps. I ended up using plastic cam locks on the straps, which don't seem to be tight enough when a person leans back on the seat, something more robust is needed.  secondly, the drawings show screws that hold the straps to the top of the seat back being driven into the sides of the seat back - which effectively goes into the end-grain of the cross-bar and resulted in the screw popping out on the first paddle... I had to epoxy it back in.

I used velcro to secure the seats to the kayak.

RE: Mill Creek 16.5: Any tips on traditional slatted seats?

   I used spacers cut from scrap timber to ensure the slats were evenly spaced on mine. That all worked well. I am not convinced that they are the best solution for seats, although I like the aesthetic. I made up one inch foam pads for the seats and backs which does improve the comfort somewhat, and used velcro to stick them on. My biggest gripe is that I feel the backs are not high enough to give my ageing back the support I require. I might try building taller backs for them as an experiment . Was out for an hour today in the Solway Firth in a stiff breeze and felt that I didn't have enough support - my stomach muscles were complaining volubly by the time I made land.

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