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October 26, 2001

Portable Cleaning Table

You don't have to be Bob Villa to build this do-it-yourself cleaning table. A screwdriver, a drill, and a couple bucks should do the trick.

Most cleaning tables in marinas are placed well out of nose-shot of the majority of the slips. While this might make things a bit more pleasant for most boat owners, it can mean a long trip to the cleaning table for the rest of us. Also, keeping the cleaning table clean doesn't seem to be a priority for most marinas. Since there isn't even a station to clean fish at my current marina, I came up with this solution to my fish-cleaning dilemmas:
First, fasten a 16- by 36-inch piece of 1/2-inch exterior plywood to the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket with four 1/4- by 2-inch galvanized or stainless countersink bolts. Use a circular scrap of plywood as a backing plate on the inside of the bucket for extra rigidity. Here's a construction tip: Insert the backing plate in the bucket and center the bucket on the 16-by-36 piece. Drill pilot holes through all three pieces at once so everything lines up when you put it all together.
Rim one long side and two short sides of the 16-by-36 rectangle with 2-inch strips of plywood, securing them with the 1 5/8-inch screws every 3 inches. Pre-drill the strips and rectangle with a slightly smaller drill bit to prevent splitting. Keep the screws 2 inches away from the rear corners. Layer another 2-inch strip of plywood underneath the front edge of the rectangle with 3/4-inch screws to stiffen and help prevent warping. Drill a 1-inch hole in each rear corner for drainage. Slap on some paint or a coat or two of resin if you really want to get fancy.
Twisted downward over the right-size piling, this device makes a great fish-cleaning table or workbench. If your pilings are too small, roll up an old towel or two and drape them over the top of the piling for a more snug fit. The whole thing comes off the piling easily for storage and can be carried with the bucket handle. As an added bonus, you can carry all your fish-cleaning supplies in the bucket.

Joe Williams
Upper Marlboro, Maryland