Helm Seat

Seat ProfileFor long cruises, and in rivers where the autopilot is not very practical, the helm chair is a nice seating alternative. I built mine about a year ago, have tested it since during the Great Circle Route, and after finding that it functions nicely, have recently enhanced it cosmetically. The following are key measurements and materials.

1. I started with a piece of 3/4 inch plywood, 24 inches wide and 18 inches long (fore to aft)

2. On the bottom side of this plywood,which is the foundation for the seat, I trimmed the perimeter with 1″ X 2″ pine strapping (boards).

3. On the aft side of the seat, I added two teak 1 X 2 straps (boards) to provide stock for hinging the chair from the pilothouse bench. I also added some teak veneer to hide the screwheads.

Seat Construction

4. I then brought the seat, and some matching headliner vinyl from Nordic to my canvasman, and had him upholster the chair with 4 inch reconstituting (regains its shape really fast) foam. The vinyl material was wrapped down around the underside of the seat and fastened with SS staples.

5. I then trimmed the bottom side with teak, and fiddled the forward corners.

6. The side rails of the chair’s teak backrest are 2 7/8″ at the bases, and 1 5/8″ at the tops.

Seat Folds7. There is one teak backrest slat at the base of the chair’s back, 2 1/2″ wide and 28″ long, mortised to fit the vertical rails. This slat serves to keep the back in an upright position.

8. There is another identical slat, mortised into the lower foreward side of the rails, to provide lumbar support.

9. The main teak slat at the top of the back is 29″ long and 5″ wide. It is mortised into the siderails as well.

10. There are two lower angular supports are made of 1 7/8″ X 18 1/2″ teak straps. The topsides of the supports are angled to support the seat, and the bottom ends are cut to embrace the 1″ tubular footrests.

11. The backrest assembly pivots on 1/2″ copper tubing nipples.

12. The seat is hung from the pilothouse bench using break-away hinges (West Marine) so that the chair can be removed easily.

13. The break-away hinges are held together with a slide bolt, so that the chair will not slip out of position.

14. I then finished off the appearance of the chair by adding finials to the vertical siderails that also serve to brace the top slat onto the siderails.

15. I also made a teak stool which performs as a footrest when sitting at the helm.whj_benchfootrest

16. I finished the teak with Minwax marine urethane, and then bronze wooled in pastewax to achieve a soft but durable patina.

17. I added a few do-dads under the seat to hold it out of the way when collapsed, and to stow the angular supports.

Bill & Donna Hjerpe
Resolute – NT 32-185