Salon Table Upgrades from Simple to Spectacular

Every once in a while, I get the urge to add something purely aesthetic to Summer Dance—a bit of class, a touch of beauty. They can transform a sailboat from just a water vehicle into a nautical experience.

Some examples are:

How to Add Coachwhipping to Your Tiller Handle
Make this Easy and Elegant Wine Glass Rack
Sew Your Own Cabin Curtains and Save
Catalina logos on the cabin cushions (see below)

Before I continue, a bit of legal housekeeping. This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. Those commissions help to pay the costs associated with running this site so that it stays free for everyone to enjoy. For a complete explanation of why I’m telling you this and how you can support this blog without paying more, please read my full disclosure.

Something that stood out at me after I refinished all the interior teak in Summer Dance was the salon table. It was the original covered in walnut grain Formica and it didn’t come close to matching the rich warmth of the teak. It was in good condition otherwise and it worked well enough but it just didn’t fit the vibe. Instead, it looked like it came from an 80’s era camper.

Original camper style salon table

The first table upgrade that I did was to replace the original top with one that I made myself from pre-laminated particle board overlaid with white melamine. You can find it at most home improvement stores as well as the iron-on tape for finishing the edges. It’s a cheap, easy, and practical upgrade. It doesn’t tolerate getting wet, however, so be sure to keep it dry. If you have the skill and tools for applying Formica laminate, you could make a top that is more durable and have unlimited color and pattern options.

DSCN4611 (Custom)
DIY melamine table and new leg

Still not content, I decided to pull out all the stops and make a custom top from genuine teak. I was fortunate enough to find some plantation grown teak dimensional lumber and teak veneer plywood at a local woodworking specialty store. Plantation teak is considerably less expensive and less rare than the more popular, First European Quality (FEQ) teak. I made it the same dimensions and shape as the original so that it could still be lowered to convert the settee into a berth.

Custom teak table top

The plywood center is recessed into the frame which also acts as fiddles to keep objects from sliding off. For even more utility, I routed round pockets in one end of the frame to hold beverages and a rectangular pocket to hold small objects.

Routed drink and small object holders

For embellishments, I inlaid a maple and ebony compass rose in the center and matching diamond pattern strips around the edge obtained from If you search the web for pictures of other custom table tops, you’ll find examples of checker boards, maps, and other ideas.

Inlaid maple and ebony strips

The new table is a proper focal point for the whole cabin and makes it even more inviting for family and friends. No, it was not stingy, not even a little bit. But it was affordable considering all the savings from other DIY projects!

If you’re interesting in upgrading your own table, here is a link to the bracket hardware that I recommend so you can use both your old table and your new table interchangeably.

SeaLux Marine Grade Stainless Steel Removable Table Bracket Set

If your table is missing or you would like the dimensions of the stock table, you can find a dimensioned drawing in the Downloads page.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. svsoltara says:

    The table is beautiful!

  2. johnandrosie says:

    Very, very nice … I especially like your idea of routed out glass holders and end tray. Beautiful corners too. I tried similar project but ran into 2 problems: firstly table warped and secondly bar-topper pour-on epoxy finish yellowed badly in UV (even though inside). Any suggestions? Does your centre piece float inside rabbeted frames or is it firmly glued or attached to the frame? Also, what did you use as a finish? Greatly enjoy all your articles…..keep up the good work! PS: intend to buy your recommended attachment brackets ….thanks

    1. Hi, John

      For the frame to be flat, all the corner joints have to be perfectly 90 degrees. It takes patience when you dry fit the pieces and then be sure to not mix them up or rotate any during glue-up. Most general purpose epoxies, including West Systems 105, will yellow with age. There are special clear formulas that won’t yellow but I don’t have experience with any. My centerpiece is epoxied into rabbet joints in the bottom of the frame. I planed the 1″ solid teak down to 3/4″ but if I had to do it over again, I would leave it 1″ and float the center in dado joints instead. I applied several coats of Epiphanes gloss varnish.


  3. stevedigby says:

    Thanks for these tips. The Stingy Sailor always has something creative to offer. Steve Digby 1983 Catalina 25

  4. d minke says:

    Wow! Nice work!

  5. Bob says:

    Enjoy your summer launching sat 63° sunny

  6. Cassidy Edstrom says:

    Love this!!! Can’t wait to become a regular reader.

  7. Clint and Sarah says:

    Stingy Sailor, we were wanting to build a new table top for our 1982 Catalina we recently acquired. Currently there is no table. We were wondering if you had specifications for this project. We didn’t see anything in the downloads section. Thanks in advance! Looking forward to looking at all of your tips as we get our sailboat all fixed up!

    1. Hi, Clint & Sarah

      I made a drawing, added it to the Downloads page, and put a link in this article.


  8. Jim Dory says:

    Curious about the table leg. Got a link or suggestion? I’m looking for a way to do my table. Really appreciate your tips as I’m building a boat and need to do it fairly cheaply. About to launch.. perhaps coming summer.

    1. Jim,
      The leg I used came from that popular, online Catalina parts retailer but there are similar ones available elsewhere from RV parts manufacturers.

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