Sanding boogy man

Posted by Laszlo on Jun 21, 2006

So, after a year of operating her 16LT with its original epoxy skin, my wife was ready for me to varnish it. The first step was to sand it down to get rid of the globs and blobs before putting on the fill coats.

I hadn't finished a boat beyond a rough workboat finish since 1977. Based on statements in the manual like "endless Saharas", that finishing would take longer than the rest of the assembly combined, sanding haikus, sanding songs, etc., I was expecting to be at it for the next couple of years, at least.

In reality, I had the whole boat sanded in 2 hours clock time. This included frequent stops for changing discs (18 used) and drinking water stops (it was 90 degrees out there). 2 hours! It took longer than that to get it stitched together. So what's all the fuss?

And this was not a pretty epoxy job that I started with, either. I had been in a hurry to get it done for Okuomefest 2005, so it had gobs and drips everywhere and a couple of long ridges along the deck. And, just for good measure, it had been curing for just over a year, so those were very hard gobs.

I used a Dewalt ROS hooked up to Home Depot's cheapest shop vac, foam earplugs, a disposable dustmask and safety goggles, so it wasn't because my equipment was the best that money could buy.

I'm not sure why, but sanding seems to have turned into a boogy man. And much as I usually like CLC's general approach to everything, those things I mentioned above just tend to make it worse, and for no reason. Builders early on in the project read about endless Saharas and woeful haikus and spend the entire first part of the project building up anxiety about the sanding that is to come. How about changing the approach to a more positive one? (I know there's some stuff about the zen of sanding, but that's outweighed by all the negative.)

I'm not suggesting that building the kayak be portrayed as the necessary evil that has to be gotten out of the way before you finally get to do the sanding, but how about dropping the endlessness and sadness and making it a matter of fact subtask in the overall project?

To be fair, there really is lots of good info about how to sand effectively in the CLC literature. That one tip about changing sandpaper frequently is worth its weight in gold. And I bought my ROS using CLC's recommendation. So on the whole it's all very good advice. It's just the hyperbole that needs changing.


PS - you gotta love summer for building. 3 coats of epoxy (medium hardener) in one day!