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Old 27-06-2020, 15:34   #1
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Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

As I attempt to educate myself about varnishing brightwork, I'm thinking I need a sander. For coaming tops, dorade boxes, handrails I'm probably fine with hand sanding but I've got 5" caprails which are going to require a fair amount of time and effort even with a power sander. Not so much for complete varnish removal (seems like heat guns or infra-red are better for that) but mostly for sanding between coats. Some questions below.

Random orbital versus 1/4 sheet finishing sander?
5" or smaller "palm" sander?
Do I need a "matching" dust collection vacuum designed to work with a particular sander, or will any wet/dry shop vac work as well?
Brands you like?

Thanks.

-Jim
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Old 27-06-2020, 15:48   #2
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

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Originally Posted by jimp1234 View Post
As I attempt to educate myself about varnishing brightwork, I'm thinking I need a sander. For coaming tops, dorade boxes, handrails I'm probably fine with hand sanding but I've got 5" caprails which are going to require a fair amount of time and effort even with a power sander. Not so much for complete varnish removal (seems like heat guns or infra-red are better for that) but mostly for sanding between coats. Some questions below.

Random orbital versus 1/4 sheet finishing sander?
5" or smaller "palm" sander?
Do I need a "matching" dust collection vacuum designed to work with a particular sander, or will any wet/dry shop vac work as well?
Brands you like?

Thanks.

-Jim
Palm sander circular pad , random orbital

Mirka is best in the business...expensive

When shopping alway use

Mirka as the price/ quality reference

Orbit diameter goes with sandpaper grade

2.5 mm is for fine sandpaper ... varnish work , topcoat

8 mm. Is for heavy sandpaper...bottom work, glass work

https://www.mirka.com/tools/electric...bital-sanders/
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Old 27-06-2020, 15:52   #3
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

The dust collection is nice to have especially doing production work in a closed shop environment. For me it's not worth the hassle of a hose attached to the sander. Also Fein and others with the best systems have outrageously high prices like 3 times other professional quality equipment like Milwaukee, DeWalt, Bosch, etc.

I'd go for a quarter sheet sander from the usual sources. They are easy to operate and work in tight quarters. Random orbit sanders have their place on flat surfaces but are hard to control when doing intricate work not always on the straight and level. Most of these sanders have a built in dust collection system though I can't say they work significantly better than my older sanders without.

Wear a mask, buy a small shop vac from HD or Lowes that won't tip over if you look cross eyed at it and sweep up the dust often. Wouldn't worry about hooking it up to the tool.
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Old 27-06-2020, 15:57   #4
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

A dust collector is not a normal vacuums cleaner

A dust collector vac has adjustable suction vacuum

Too much vacuum creates a suction force

Applying too much downforce on the sander

This downforce overheats the surface and clogs the sandpaper
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Old 27-06-2020, 17:28   #5
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

If u r stripping use a heat gun, pull scraper & 40 grit -120-220 then start varnishing. If Just sanding between coats, use 400 wet/dry and a hose-, u r just knocking the gloss off to give “tooth “ for each coat.- very easy can Start 1st. Light. let dry , then varnish, repeat. Every 5th coat, knock it down with 220 and a block by hand -still easy. If u use a power sander, u won’t get it flat & the high gloss varnish will show the undulations.That’s what the high end pros (Hinckley etc.) do here, and believe it or not , it’s straightforward & most importantly works well.
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Old 28-06-2020, 03:20   #6
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

Agree that sanding varnish between coats is best done by hand. If you insist on machines:
For the best sander/dust collection combo you can't beat Festool
For detail sanding in tight corners a Fein Multimaster.
Don't waste money on Shop Vac or any others you find and the Home Depot. A Fein vaccuum is unbeatable for boat work, unless you've already bought the Festool.
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Old 28-06-2020, 04:14   #7
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

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Originally Posted by Flatswing View Post
If u r stripping use a heat gun, pull scraper & 40 grit -120-220 then start varnishing. If Just sanding between coats, use 400 wet/dry and a hose-, u r just knocking the gloss off to give “tooth “ for each coat.- very easy can Start 1st. Light. let dry , then varnish, repeat. Every 5th coat, knock it down with 220 and a block by hand -still easy. If u use a power sander, u won’t get it flat & the high gloss varnish will show the undulations.That’s what the high end pros (Hinckley etc.) do here, and believe it or not , it’s straightforward & most importantly works well.
Sorry I wasn’t clear. Meant to say that even if you strip completely, hand sanding with a block, is still best and quite quick.
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Old 28-06-2020, 05:13   #8
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

Definitely hand sanding between coats. I may start with a 120 or 180 on first couple coats where you are still improving the surface then on subsequent coats 220. As soon as 320 works well I stay with that through final coats. The new 3M purple colored paper is awesome. I cut it in strips to wrap around one of those sponge sanding blocks.
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Old 28-06-2020, 05:32   #9
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

The Festool RO150FEQ that I have used for more hours than I can count. It is a reliable and quality workhorse.

The Festool ETS150/3 is better for finish sanding w/ the smaller stroke.

This is used w/ their dust extraction system. Note that bigger is better, to decrease intervals between full collection service. I have switched to their long life bags and just dump the contents to reuse the bag until the bag degrades.

The BIG benefits from vacuum sanding is extension of the abrasive life, w/o clogging and decreased surface heat. Yes clean vacuuming is great too.
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Old 28-06-2020, 05:54   #10
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

I would recommend one other small sanding tool for your kit. A small and cheap 1/2 x 18 belt sander is a great tool for tight corners and other awkward spaces. I bought a Wen on Amazon for less than 40 bucks. Draws about 2 amps so I can even use it on a small inverter for work aboard. Air driven versions of these tools are common in metal working and auto body shops, so belts are easy and cheap to come by.
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Old 28-06-2020, 07:10   #11
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

Most sanders these days have some kind of hook up for dust collection so you might as well use it. I have owned several Fien vacuums since they first became available in the US and one was lost in a fire and the other wore out. We have 5 or 6 at work of various vintages and my son has a Festool which he prefers but now that there are bags available for most vacs i just use rigid vacs from HD which has a exhaust silencer available and use either a cheap remote for about $10 or a Craftsman automatic switching device that i bought many years ago for $20 which makes any vacuum switch on and off with the tool and also use a 30ft hose so I never have to bring the vac up on the boat. I have many different sanders from Metabo, Bosch, Makita, Milwaukee etc but the only one that ever gets used now is the Mirka. A friend has an equivilent Festool model that I tried first which I liked but the ergonomics of the Mirka was just better, like an air sander.
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Old 28-06-2020, 08:18   #12
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
The dust collection is nice to have especially doing production work in a closed shop environment. For me it's not worth the hassle of a hose attached to the sander....

Dust collection is mandatory in many yards and marinas for any sanding, not just bottom work. In part, this is to prevent your dust from landing on someone else's boat, or even worse, fresh varnish. I've seen a number of DIYs get shut down for sanding without dust collection.

So in fact, if you are outside of a shop, you need to think about the rules and what is down wind. Same with heavy grinding. It's not nice to sand grit toward your neighbor.


For light sanding you don't need a big shop vac or anything special. I've been using a small $10 thrift store vac I picked up 30 years ago for doing stairs and odd jobs. It's small, quieter, and has a good cleanable cloth filter. My Shop Vac is too loud and it keeps me from using my wife's Dyson! If I have a big job, I put a Dust Deputy and bucket in front of it. That's will handle anything. But not for light sanding.
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Old 28-06-2020, 09:30   #13
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

I use a Porter Cable 5" random orbit sander and a Dremel multi-tool sander. BUT!!!...as others have pointed out, hand sanding with the grain is far superior than a power tool. Here's why: (1) a random orbit sander leaves little swirl marks that will show up on your finished work and (2) it is far easier to control a hand sander on veneer so that you don't sand through the veneer layer. BTW: my Porter Cable connects directly to my Stanley shop vacuum and eliminates a lot of dust. Also, wear a dust mast unless you like sanding dust in your lungs.
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Old 28-06-2020, 11:06   #14
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

I have been happy with my Fein setup but, to be honest, have never used any other. Multitool with finger attachment good for getting into corners. Hand sand when finishing. Like low noise of Fein vacuum.
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Old 28-06-2020, 12:04   #15
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Re: Sander & dust collection system for brightwork - questions

I like to use a Bosch 6 inch Orbital sander, as it works much faster than the 5 inch variety, largely due to a longer throw in the orbit. It's got great dust collection built right in.

https://www.amazon.com/Bosch-Power-T...s%2C193&sr=8-1

The Epiphanes products are preferred by many because they have the most solids of any brand at around 54%, which results in faster build up of material.

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsNFZsAKNwRLnmpH...8XP3g?e=5Pz0lb

sanding during preparation of the surface, work your way up to at least 240 grit with machine sanding. Finish sanding must always be done by hand or with an in-line sander, with the grain, stepping back down to 180 grit, with the objective of eliminating all the orbital sander swirl marks.

50% diluted sealer coat, is followed by 25%, 15% then undiluted build coat of varnish, sanding lightly between coats using a green scouring pad to promote adhesion without removing varnish. then I switch to the compatible Epiphanes wood finish because it does not require sanding between coats and you can usually get 2 coats on per day. At coat 10, I switch back to Epiphanes clear varnish, and finally finish sand with 320 grit wet sanding session to flatten everything before applying final coat.

This system builds a base thick enough to last over 20 years with a scuff sanding and 2 maintenance coats per year, idea being to treat those topcoats as sacrificial. As the sun burns its way through those topcoats, you sand them off, apply new, and present that new surface to the sun. good luck!
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