Folding table for salt water boat


Hello,
I have a friend who needs a folding salon table for his older 32' sailboat that is moored in the San Francisco Bay. I am looking for suggestions as to what would be the best wood to use and finish.
I realize that budget dictates what is and is not feasible as well as the skill of the craftsman. I would probably be the crasftsman and I am no woodworking master but, I am handy with tools and am willing to spend a few hundred dollars in sawdust ;-) if that's what it takes to become more proficient, he too is interested in the learning process.
I have basic tools, a good circular saw that I can keep within a milimiter accuracy on a four foot cut, a top of the line Freud router and am eager to have an excuse to buy a modest band saw (a 10in Ryobi from the Borg.) My friend's budget is at around $200 (US) but, I would be willing to kick in some of my own money just for the learning experience. The table area is about three or four feet by five to six feet (depends on some other seating modification still undergoing consideration) and when folded over the underside of the fold would of course be visible and useful as a work table (it probably would see the most use.)
On the high side I imagine that Teak and Mahogany are the top choices. What about and why not Maple (for example)? Also, what finish would be a choice one (the boat is in salt water at all times.) Douglas Fir, Oak and Spruce are used in boat construction are these good candidates too and why would you choose one over the others?
I welcome a spectrum of sugggestions from the exotic to mundane (mahogany to plywood with a venere) if anyone will be so kind as to take the time to offer them so that I may learn from you.
His primary goal at this time is more functionalilty so closer to the lower cost will be what he wants but, I am interested in knowlege of how and why someone would choose and use the more exotic solutions too.
Thank you very kindly in advance.
-Lou
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Hi Lou, The table seems a little large for a 32 footer. That being said, wood choice is up to you, since it will be located down below with a proper finish. Anything from pine to teak will work. The best finish will start a discussion among sailors. I am in the varnish only group. Others will swear by polyurethane. Dave
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The most classic of course is Teak. Mahogany is second best but getting good and real mahogany is pretty difficult.
Look at http://www.teakwarehouse.com for some classic Teak design elements. Typicially done with slats and frames.
Also look at http://www.jamestowndistributors.com for great marine hardware, you'll want to go with stainless or brass. These guys have great prices and also have lots o' teak accessories and wood although a local supplier might be better on the wood.
BW
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Lou:
I attended a docent led tour at the National Park Service boat shop in SF. We got to see a lot of different boats and tools that they use for building and maintenance. In one of the boats - Hercules - which is a tug, there is a dining table that was made out of ply. Covered in poly. Seems to be holding up well. I'd go with that! Perhaps bronze or stainless steel hinges and screws would be fine as well.
Also check to see what the boat shops are offering. Got to be something like what you need and see what they are using for a similar item!
MJ Wallace
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wrote:

#1:    I'd ping Lew Hodgett (sp?) on this, as he is the resident boatswain.
#2:    I may get my head cut off for saying this but - I think a solid surface material (a la Corian but there are cheaper alternatives) would be a great contrast to the usual insides of a woodie and would give you good maintainence characteristics.

Tom Watson - WoodDorker tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1/ (website)
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Lou Donayre wrote:

<snip>
Go to the library, get Fred Bingham's book, Practical Yacht Joinery and read it.
About $20 gets a copy on Amazon.
You will find it very helpful, I don't go to the boat yard without mine.
There are as many ways to build a salon table as there are boats.
One way is to use plywood, then laminate it with Formica or equal and trim it out with teak, mahogany, white oak, maple, etc, etc.
In other words, what ever floats your boat.
Lew
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Thank you all.
The table is definitely smaller than my original specification. As it turns out it is about 18" wide and not folding. It is also used as part of the berth (the supports are remove and it is lowered onto a ledge in the starboard seat.) I didn't know that before this afternoon so with that in mind we are going to go with Teak.
I am also going to buy the book that Lew suggested.
Warmest regards and thanks again,
-Lou
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