Fairing the Hull - The Tools I'll Use: Since my last journal entry I glued down the keel. It was such a simple process that it didn't deserve an entry. I simply slathered glue on the keel and on the hull and screwed the keel down from the inside. I used long deck screws, which I shall remove (as opposed to using keel bolts, which I feel would provide a route for water to enter the hull). I will put fillets on either side of the keel, and will cover the fillets with cloth and epoxy. The keel will be extremely strong and should withstand anything that Tampa Bay can dish out.
The holidays have been busy, and I haven't spent much time in the garage. I bought supplies to use in fairing the hull and thought I'd do an entry on tools and supplies.
The only tool that is absolutely essential (in my opinion) is a long fileboard. This tool is simple to make. I took a piece of pine and planed it down until it was flexible enough to bend along the chine line of the hull. I then cut it to the same width and twice the length of sand paper that is sold in auto body shops. Next I added a couple of free-style handles. The only other thing that is necessary is some spray-on adhesive to attach the sand paper strips to the board.
The reason that this tool is so important is that you cannot get a fair chine line by hand sanding, belt sanding, or using a plane on the chine. This should be done with a long, flexible board. I use 36 grit sand paper to do the initial chine sanding because it is very aggressive and anything less will just wear your arms out.
I have two other board files. One is driven with compressed air at about 90 PSI, and the other is driven by arm power!
For heavy duty work, I have two other sanders. The top sander is a grinder and is extremely aggressive. When using this sander it has to be held perfectly flat against the hull or huge gouges will result. (I know because I've screwed up plenty of boats and car repairs using this grinder!) I use it sparingly, usually hold it flat, and turn it on and off so that it doesn't get up to full speed.
The other sander is a belt sander, which both easy and safe to use.
The last two sanders are an orbital sander and an air driven mini-grinder. The orbital sander is good for smoothing out filler and wood grains. It's also nice because it has a vacuum attachment, which cuts down on the dust.
I use the mini-grinder almost exclusively to sand fillets. There will be a fillet on either side of the keel.
I will use thickened epoxy to fill any substantial voids/cracks, but I will use polyester filler to take care of rough wood, wood grain, etc. This is a surprising development for me. I went to Fiberglass Coatings with the full intention of buying micro balloons and using that material to make a lightweight, sandable, filler. They talked me into using polyester filler because it is easy to apply, cooks off quickly, and is very easy to sand. My main concern was that polyester resin is famous for absorbing moisture, which is why we use epoxy for glue and to wet out fiberglass cloth on the hull. They explained to me that in addition to absorbing water, it absorbs epoxy resin, and that it would be fine in very thin coats. I have used this material before on auto painting projects and was very happy to be able to use it to finish the hull.
Next week I'll try to stop procrastinating and get to fairing the hull!