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Old 08-18-2012
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Re: Power tool for sanding toe rail

I highly recommend against power-anything for this job, no matter how sexy looking. They are expensive, noisy, and inflexible. The are extremely difficult to control and the result is loss of wood along with the old finish. And in the end, you will still have to scrape the details.

As a furniture maker with 25 years experience and a ton of experience with this job in particular, I strongly recommend a cabinetmaker's card scraper in a holder of your making or one available at woodworking stores. I use a holder made from a 2" x 3" x 3/4" oak block with a handle set at a 90 degree angle to the block. It's my grandfather's design and has worked for almost 100 years. They key is a nice, sharp hook in the scraper edge. PM me for instructions on how to set one in less than 2 minutes with only a file and screwdriver.

When I did my toe rail 2 years ago, several people stopped by the boat and marveled at the speed and quiet at which I was progressing. I did the port, starboard, and stern toerails in about 3 hours down to the wood but not into the wood. Can't be done as accurately with any electric sander. Trust me. And stay away from the chemical strippers too. They'll just waste your time and wallet.

Cabinet Scrapers are one of the least appreciated, most effective tools in the woodworkers tool box. IMO, too many novice woodworkers buy everything electric in the false assumption that they have to be faster-better. Not true, just a question of picking the most effective weapon.
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