Cutting Out the Cockpit
I made a paper pattern to define the size and shape of the cockpit recess area. The one I used here shows what remains on the deck, where I could have a paper pattern that constitutes the shape of the recess. Either way works. I just trace the edge onto the deck and then use a jig saw with a fine blade to follow the line. I stop whenever I need to move to get a better position and also where the strong back is close enough to the back deck that I don't want to cut into it. I just barrel right through the forms. At the back edge, I finish the cut with a hand saw.
I tried to cut pretty close to the line, but it always needs a little touching up. A variety of tools from microPlanes to block plans to sandpaper stuck to strips come in handy for cleaning up the edge.
The Recess Filler
After cutting out the hole it is time to fill it back in again. I have a pattern that constitutes the desired shape of the recess. I use that as a guide to glue up a panel of strips big enough to fill the front half of the cockpit hole. I then transfered the outline of this pattern to the piece after the glue dried and cut it out with the band saw to get it close to the right size.
It was only fairly close, so I decided to trace the hole onto the underside of the filler. This required the removal of a couple strips so I could get my hand into the front area. I then used a pencil to mark the shape. Again to the band saw, followed by a quick touch up on the oscillating belt sander.
Cutting Away the Form
On this particular boat I am making the cockpit longer than normal so this changed where the recess hit the forms. This required chopping off the top of form 9.
Adjusting the Fit
After roughing the filler to shape, the hole and the filler need to shaped to match. I used a combination of planing away the edge of the filler and more sanding on the edge of the deck. I look for the tightest spot and plane away at that area. The edge of the filler needs to be beveled to match the edge of the deck.
Once a good fit has been acheived I glued the filler in place. Green masking tape makes a good clamp to hold the seam tight.
Extending the Sides
The recess will taper away and blend into the cutout at the back of the coaming. Instead of filling all the way down with strips going across the hole, I fitted a couple strips along parallell to the sides.