Monday, April 17, 2006

The varnished truth

I'm not enough of a biblical scholar to know if Noah ever got tired of sanding the Ark. But I know I am. And I'm guessing my little boat isn't much more than even one cubit long...

But a part of my Easter Sunday was spent in the holiday tradition of boat sanding. The rub rails, daggerboard, rudder head, rudder blade, and mast step all got a good sanding before being coated with a second coat of epoxy. After all that, I even had some time and energy left for some more sanding of the hull interior. Even after an initial going-over with 120-grit paper, there are some rough, orange-peel like sections in the hull interior where the epoxy application wasn't the greatest. Still more work to be done there.

So tonight, I gave that second coat of epoxy on the daggerboard another sanding. I hit it with the 120, then a pass with 220-grit. It looked good enough that curiosity finally overtook me, and I popped the top on a can of Interlux Schooner Varnish. My reading had prepared me for how touchy the application of varnish might be. So I had a small roller for application, and a foam brush standing by for "tipping in", or removing bubbles left by the roller. I was surprised how easily the varnish went on the daggerboard (after I had carefully wiped it free of sanding dust). It didn't even seem necessary to tip in very much. I was careful to apply a thin coat, and all looked good as the daggerboard lay flat. But as soon as I lifted it to do the other side, sags appeared. With subsequent coats, I'll have to be even more careful to put down thinner coats. But overall, I was pleased. It is said one must do a good job sanding, because varnish won't hide any flaws. But I was pleased to find some of the very small sanding swirls and lines did get covered up. Finally, I knew bugs would be a problem with the fresh varnish surface, so I was careful to not turn on my powerful worklights in the open garage as twilight set. But even with no lights, bugs were attracted, and a couple are now stuck in the finish. I'll have to do further coats at a time other than twilight, and most likely with the garage door closed. Fortunately, the garage has a couple of screened windows I can open for ventilation. All in all, a good experiment; one I should be able to improve upon. Total hours 79.25.


Anonymous Houseboatbuilder said...

Not sure what kind of sander you're using, but you may want to consider a belt sander. The belt sander has come in handy in our project many times.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Actually, I have a 3 x 18-inch belt sander that I have been using as much as possible. The boat foils have been a perfect example. Unfortunately there are plenty of tight corners and curved surfaces where the Belt sander just won't work. There, I rely on my 1/4 sheet orbital. Or in some places, I'll have to sand by hand.

8:55 AM  

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