How to use Starboard for many projects on Board

THE BRUCE ANCHOR GROUP

Building with STARBOARD®

King StarBoard® - The original marine grade high-density polyethylene building sheet for any boat needs.


Two weak links in building with StarBoard are the lack of offcuts available and the special formulated StarBond glue. The former has been resolved: most plastic suppliers only sell full-size sheets but StarBoard is now available in hobbyist quantities at West Marine and Boat/U.S. As for the StarBond glue, few suppliers carry it and it's expensive: the dispenser costs US$65 (some suppliers rent it for a nominal fee), the 50ml-glue cartridge costs US$25 for only 1 sq.ft. coverage plus more for nozzles. 3M Marine recently launched a glue for polymers only available, unfortunately, in bulk for commercial use. Some builders endorse the use of 3M 5200 adhesive/sealant used in union with screws. This holds well and offers an alternative when you don't have access to StarBond.

StarBoard behaves differently from other plastic-type materials.

To obtain the best results here are some details you need to consider. (Refer to DIY 1996-#4 for complete step-by-step construction techniques).

StarBoard expands and contracts with temperature changes. When measuring items, reduce dimensions by 1.5mm (1/32") per foot of length or width.

The Starboard material


This material is strong but has limited structural strength and must be supported by a load bearing framework in large spanning applications, such as a swim platform, shelf or seat.


A support grid fastened every 38cm (15") is recommended for 12mm (1/2") StarBoard; every 45.7cm (18") for 19mm (3/4"). Reinforcing ribs or pads made of StarBoard, wedged between mounting brackets and the finished piece add the necessary stiffness. Be sure to use drill stops to drill holes to the exact depth - don't guess. For a professional finish, countersink fastener holes and fill with plugs cut from StarBoard with a plug cutter.

A great aid to temporarily "clamp" StarBoard components (or other "unglueable" material) when assembling or preparing to drill or fasten is Stripfix. This pressure sensitive, rubber resin adhesive tape by Vetus is available in 10m (cost less than US$20) or 30m (33' or 98') rolls in widths of 9mm (3/8"), 12mm (1/2") or 22mm (7/8"). Just peel, stick and join pieces together.

Starboard for many projects

You can use Starboard for many boat projects: bow anchor roller, propane tank holder, stern rail seat, lightweight chart rack, and brackets for hatch boards.

All are cut on a table saw (or circular or jig saw) and finished with edges rounded on a router with 1/2-round carbide bit; hatch brackets are assembled from separate pieces or from one piece, heated and bent over a form to shape the sides.

Bow anchor roller with StarBoard

Many older boats are not factory-equipped with a proper system for handling ground tackle. Constructed of 2.5cm (1") material, this bow anchor roller is custom-built to match the curve at the stemhead and the anchor stowed in the roller.

To make, you'll need to obtain a roller from an anchor manufacturer, a hexhead bolt of the proper length and a short length of aluminum or stainless tube of the same diameter as the roller shaft. Length is determined by the anchor shaft. To determine this measurement, hold the anchor over the bow so it overlaps the deck by 10cm (4") or more, leaving plenty of clearance between the anchor flukes and the hull. An anchor mounted too close to the hull is apt to bounce around in rough seas, very likely damaging the hull. Measure the distance from the stem at the hull to the outermost edge of the anchor shaft. To this add 7.6cm (3"). Most platforms are "V" shaped, although deck contour determines the final shape and length. Add extra if you desire a platform that wraps the sides. Ideally the width should be no less than 12.7cm (5") at the outer end, and of a width at the stem that blends attractively.

Using your preliminary measurements and proposed shape, make a template from 12mm (1/2") plywood. Cut a hole starting 7.6cm (3") in from the outboard end for the roller and anchor shaft.


Allow extra material at the inboard end for temporarily clamping to the deck. Mount template on deck and check fitting of the anchor. Again, be certain there is plenty of hull clearance and enough space in the cutout for the roller and anchor shaft. Complete the template, transferring the desired curve to the inboard end. Cut the StarBoard, round all edges with a router, and then mount the roller with the

compression tube inserted through the shaft . This tube is especially important as it absorbs the loads and prevents roller or bolt breakage.

Propane tank holder

was designed by DIY reader Gary Young for his 8.7m (29') Doral Prestancia. Constructed of two layers of 12mm (1/2") StarBoard, it forms a hexagon base for a propane tank mounted on a swim platform. Make a circular template of the tank bottom, adding 12mm (1/2") all around, then add 5cm (2") to form the outer edge. This can be square shaped (Figure 5), circular, octagon as in this project, or whatever looks good.

Transfer the pattern to the StarBoard and cut. Use this piece as a pattern for the second layer. Before assembling, make the notches in the top piece for the eye bolts (Figure 6). To do this, drill four holes with a ho lesaw of a diameter matching the bolt heads, about 12mm (1/2") in from the outer edge. Finish each notch by cutting in from the edge with a jigsaw. Round the top edges of the outer piece with a router. Preassemble the two pieces, lining up the edges, then drill fastener holes for machine screws and holes through the bottom layer only for eye bolts.


Transfer mounting and eye bolt holes to swim platform (or deck). Clean all mating surfaces with solvent, apply 3M 5200 to the two sections and join together. Apply sealant to the swim platform and fastening holes and bolt in place (Figure 7). Mount the tank and firmly secure with bungee cord or rubber straps.

Stern rail seat

Many sailboats never have enough seating for guests. The simple-to-make stern rail seat is the perfect solution. Take a piece of 6mm (1/4") scrap plywood cut into a rough triangle and lay it over the stern rail. It should overlap the sides by at least 5cm (2"), more if adding a beverage holder. Outline the proposed shape on the wood, curving the inboard side and marking notches for stanchions. Transfer pattern to 12mm (1/2") StarBoard and cut with a jigsaw. Fasten all sides with rail clamps mounted with threaded machine screws or thru-bolts, countersunk and plugged.

Unless you own a 40-footer, where to stow charts is an enigma for many owners. (Not all boats have built-in full-size chart drawers as "Nada," Nigel Calder's new boat.) Often charts are many-times folded then stuffed into drawers or lockers, or tossed on shelves. After a few seasons of such ill treatment, replacement is often the only option.

The chart rack is the ideal solution for boats with limited storage. It's made of King StarLite, a lightweight replacement for plywood and 33% lighter than King StarBoard.

Available in black only, it's fabricated exactly the same. Commonly used as an upholstery backing board, a 6mm (1/4") piece is all that's needed for this project, although it's sold in thickness up to 19mm (3/4"). Also needed is 40cm (16") of 12mm (1/2") PVC tube for spacers and eight machine screws of at least 6cm (2-1/4") or longer depending on desired gap and ceiling thickness. This gives a 5cm (2") gap; purchase longer tube and screws if you want more depth. Overall dimensions depend on the amount of uncluttered ceiling available and large enough to hold a chart folded in half. A location off to one side, away from lights, wiring, deck hardware, etc. probably works best. Cut the StarLite, then to further reduce weight, cut 5cm (2") diameter holes equally spaced with a holesaw. Cut the tube into eight pieces of equal length. Drill the board, then using it as a template, carefully drill the ceiling. Be sure you know what you're drilling through and the proper depth. Fasten the board to the ceiling, inserting the PVC spacers. To ensure the charts stay put, you may want to tack on fiddle rails or sides with one end that hinges down.

Rarely is there a vacant locker or one big enough to stow cumbersome hatch boards. A good place for them is under a berth cushion, until the berth needs occupying. The two hatch brackets shown in for small boards, and for large ones, tuck out-of-the way on a bulkhead near the companionway. Easy to assemble from strips of 12mm or 19mm (1/2" or 3/4") StarBoard, they are made-to-measure. While you can cut the sides and end-fasten the front supports, this is a good project to try your bending skills.

Stack the hatch boards and measure the maximum depth, then measure the maximum board width. Add an extra 2.5cm (1") to all dimensions. The bracket shown in has a bottom support and uses the bulkhead as the back support; (Figure 11) rests on the cabin sole and mounts to StarBoard backs. My preference is to combine the two: a bottom support to protect the cabin sole and back boards - it's likely the back-less design will eventually deface the bulkhead.

Cut the pieces as required and round the edges using a router. Be sure to cut oversize if you're bending the front to form sides; otherwise, cut the sides, fronts and backs, fasten with screws and 3M 5200 (optional), then mount to the bulkhead. Countersink and plug all fastener holes for a professional appearance.

Skilled fabricators heat Star-Board with a strip heater , a device that heats quickly while keeping the rest of the piece cool. It's a worthwhile addition to your workshop if you're an avid user.

To use, lay the piece on the heater with the bend line above the heating element. Heat the area from both sides to about 101.6°C (215°F), then transfer the piece to a forming jig. Clamp securely, then slowly bend it to the desired angle. Simple jigs can be made of angled wood, doweling or a pipe clamped in a vise or to a table.

Since StarBoard has a memory and will rebound slightly, overbend the piece. For example, the desired bend for the front pieces of these brackets is 90°, so bend the pieces to about 95°. Practice your bending skills on scrap material before graduating to your finished pieces. Wear heavy gloves to protect your hands.

Rebuffing HDPE& StarBoard


Few adhesives and no coatings will stick to maintenance-free King StarBoard.


The beauty and the curse of a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, such as King StarBoard, is that it is chemically resistant and not much sticks to it, which is why it is so easy to maintain and perfect for the marine environment. There are only a few adhesives that claim to stick to the material and no paints make that statement.

There is no primer on the market that assists in any bonding process with polyethylene. These primers are mainly used with styrene plastics, PVC and especially with automotive plastics that are formulated to accept paint bonding.

For more details contacted King Plastic, manufacturers of StarBoard family products.

Cleaning Off-Spec Stainless parts

Does using an acid cleaner such as On/Off on stainless steel to remove rust stains cause the stainless to rust even more after use?

If stainless steel has insufficient nickel, etc, then brown oxidation is possible when exposed to an acid cleaner, such as On/Off. Stainless steel can corrode but the corrosion byproduct is not the telltale brown if the steel is manufactured to proper specs. Chemist Abe Kelly (former owner of Captain Phab Marine Products) recommends using a 5% to 10% solution of industrial or food grade phosphoric acid to remove rust and phosphatize any iron at the surface to prevent corrosion caused by atmospheric conditions. Phosphoric acid is a liquid and comes in different strengths. It likely would have to be diluted to the strength suggested.

If you have difficulty in finding what you need, consider an aluminum boat cleaner that contains phosphoric acid. The presence of other acids won't interfere with the phosphatizing process. It forms aluminum phosphate, which reasonably resembles the color of aluminum when applied to boats, trailers, etc. Another product that contains phosphoric acid is Naval Jelly. Also note that phosphoric acid will turn rust (iron oxide) black.

King StarBoard Characteristics & Options

King StarBoard is an extremely versatile polymer sheet. Strong and lightweight, it never splits or warps and is virtually maintenance-free. King StarBoard has been used to replace teak, plywood and laminated wood products on thousands of boats. Tables, doors, hatches, grabrails, moldings, steps, transoms, dive platforms, cup and rod holders, anchor pulpits, seats and more can be made from low-maintenance King StarBoard. These accessories not only look great, but they last as long as the rest of the boat. There are few wooden items onboard that can't be replaced with King StarBoard.
King StarBoard is available in a variety of colors, surface textures and sizes to accommodate any project. Pieces are cut to order, in thicknesses from 1/4" to 1".

Original KING STARBOARD is a unique, superior marine grade polymer sheet, environmentally stabilized to resist harsh sun and sea conditions, including ultraviolet light. Unlike wood, it will not rot, swell or delaminate when exposed to moisture. It's ideal for grabrails, doors, drawers, tables, storage boxes, rod holders, sink covers, electronics cabinets, small outboard motor brackets, tackle centers, molding/trim, instrument panels, bilge floor grates, swim platforms, mounting brackets, cutting boards and more.

When using King Starboard - polymer sheet stock the plastic distributors & fabricators everywhere are discovering exciting new business opportunities

Designed to last a lifetime King Starboard sheets will not drive splinter swell week or delamination. If you aren't familiar with using King Starboard polymer sheet stock, no need to worry the sheets are easy to fabricate using the same tools and techniques used in woodworking.

King Starboard interiors

another 15' Whaler interior in Sand shade color. King Starboard

Above is 15' with the first starboard interior built 2 years ago. It looks as if it was new. Scrubbing with a soft brush is all it takes to keep it clean.

Pressure washing does not affect starboard like it affect gelcoat. If you get a really bad stain just use some acetone and it will come off. The time and money you've saved going to Starboard year after year with no maintenance will worth it for you.

The price

The price of King Starboard interiors for the 13' and 15' Whalers is $2,000. They are more than the more Specialty Marine wood interiors but less than the Boat Outfitters starboard interior. Some of the benefits of our interiors are; raised benches for a comfortable ride, durability and low maintenance of the King Starboard, rocket launcher style rod holder on the backrest made for storing, bait fishing and trolling even the heaviest cannon balls for salmon.

A starboard sheet can run from $250 to $400 or more depending on thickness.

More Than 32 Years "King StarBoard®" Helping to Build Better Boats

King StarBoard® polymer sheet is the first polymer sheet used in boating industry. Currently, the "KING" Company continues to raise the bar with new products and premium materials from the StarBoard® family , new standards of excellence and new production techniques for a huge variety of industries.


StarBoard® Marine - King grade polymer products include:

StarBoard® – The King Original Marine- first Grade Polymer Sheet(see photo above);
StarBoard® AS – The King Anti-Skid Marine-Grade Polymer Sheet;
StarLite® XL – The King Marine-Grade Lightweight Cellular Utility Sheet;
StarBoard® XL – The King Marine-Grade Lightweight Cellular Sheet; - These categorie of material and products are used in Equipment Mounts, Deck Components ,Doorstops and Thresholds Doorstops and Thresholds, Bait Well Covers and Recess Hatches,Tackle Centers and Upholstery Substrate.

in left: Boat Helm using StarLite XL, in right:Boat Hatch Made With King  StarBoard® XL

Handled like finished plywood

With no finishing requires King Starboard polymer sheet stock can be bannedcut routed welded and so much more the possible uses are endless with a product that works like wood. Although King Starboard polymer sheet will not be easily scratched.

King Starboard can be routed with hand-held in CNC routers CNC routers through your cash drawings into beautifully finished doors and trim.

KING STARBOARD® XL weighs approximately 20% less than the original King StarBoard® and has a wide range of end uses. King StarBoard XL features the same matte finish as King StarBoard and is perfect for applications where finished edges are not necessary.

KING STARLITE® XL is a lightweight marine-grade utility sheet. The black cellular polymer replaces plywood upholstery backing on boats. It can be easily formed into curved shapes, holds staples firmly, and cannot rot. It's ideal for fabricating accessories and upholstered parts, as it holds fabric staples securely.

KING STARBOARD® AS is a marine-grade anti-skid polymer sheet designed for high traffic areas. This unique product combines the strength, versatility and durability of King StarBoard with a special high-friction surface. The raised dot pattern on one side inhibits slippage and promotes water drainage. It's ideal for ladder treads, bilge floor grates, hatches, swim platforms and flooring.

King E-Board® is a patent-pending polymer sheet that replaces and simplifies traditional methods of fastening wire and hose runs in boats, recreational vehicles and many industrial applications. It attaches easily to most surfaces using either mechanical fasteners or adhesives (optional adhesive-friendly backing required). King E-Board is a complete panel solution for a clean look and a fast, professional installation. You can save time and money using ordinary zip ties and King E-Board instead of wire and hose clamps, which require screws, tools and a free hand. King E-Board not only organizes and improves the appearance of a wire installation, but also increases safety by securing these items to a non-conductive surface. The box pattern is ideal for combining horizontal and vertical runs with neat 90° turns.