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It depends on how much material you need to remove. If you only need to rough up the surface or remove just a little material, I like any ordinary random orbital disc sander. If you need to remove more material, I very much prefer wetsanding by hand, using sanding discs made by 3M. They're about 8-9" in diameter, green in color, and have a product number of either 246U or 251U on the back. I fold them in half, which makes them fairly stiff, almost like a sanding block, and they fit the hand well. They're about $3.50 each at Zahneiser's at Solomon's Island, and I think you can also buy them at Fawcett's in Annapolis. One is enough to take a lot of material off my 35' boat, and still have some life left in it.
When you use a machine, you have to cope with the dust, and masks, etc., and you have to constantly lift the weight of the machine and press it against the hull. When you wetsand, you eliminate all that. You can work longer without becoming arm weary. I had to try it myself to become a believer.
If you want to strip years of accumulated paint down to the fiberglass, that's another question. I'm just finishing the job on my boat, and there is no easy way to do it yourself.
Last edited by Sailormon6; 05-16-2007 at 10:15 AM.