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Keeping books on shelves



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What is the issue?
The fiddles built across the front of most shelves on production boats are usually neat looking and hold books and other tall items in place when the boat is relatively steady or at anchor. But when a yacht is tacking, rolling or meeting that inevitable seaway the fiddles are often found to be too low and the contents of bookshelves often empty into the cabin.

Why address this?
A vessel that spills its contents when it gets rough is, at best, not pleasant and at worst a dangerous environment to inhabit. Books that fall around the saloon are also likely to get damaged.

How to address this?
Fit additionally removable fiddle rails higher up on the shelving. Here are several different approaches to making a removable fiddle that are easy to implement.

Slot and retainer
Drawing: Tony Gibson

I fashioned this retainer on our boat from some oak that matched the saloon's decor. The piece was about 10mm thick as it needed to be somewhat substantial to support the end slot cut down the middle.

Finished retainer (right)
Photo: Michael Harpur

All it required was a little strip of brass cut into two pieces and then bent at right angles. Once these were screwed onto the shelf at each end the wood slotted down into place. The retainer was set back about 5mm to allow the rail to sit flush on the outside of the book shelve. This worked perfectly for us as it easily lifted up and out but never came off of its own accord.

U-Holder Fiddle
Drawing: Tony Gibson

This is the traditional U-hold fiddle which is an all wood approach.

Dowel Fiddle
Drawing: Tony Gibson

This is the same as the U-hold fiddle but utilises a dowel rod as a retainer. Bore two mounting discs with a bit slightly larger than the dowel rod fiddle. Cut a parallel slot into one to make an open end, or U shaped seat, for the fiddle rod to be removed.

Keyhole Fiddle
Drawing: Tony Gibson

The keyhole fiddle is by far the easiest fiddle to fashion. As it sits on the front surface of the shelf it is also good if there is a limited amount of space to recess a fiddle. An old sail batten will even do the job in this case and all that is required is two screws and two different bit sizes. The keyhole slot is formed by drilling two holes. Drill the narrow part of the slot just about wide enough for the body of the screw, but not wide enough to allow the head to slip through. Then drill the top hole to allow the screw head through. Fit it by simply sliding the wide part of the keyhole over the screw head, then allowing it to drop down into the narrower slotted part of the hole.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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