Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
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Re: Power tool for sanding toe rail
Heat gun with putty knife and paint scrapers. This worked very well. The heat gun softens the varnish and sometimes causes it to bubble and lift. Scraping it with a hand-held paint scraper is very easy and can be done very carefully with no force against the wood, hence no sudden slips. When the surface was nice and flat, I used a 2” scraper. When it was not, I used a smaller, 1”, scraper. I found it effective on the outboard, vertical surface because I didn’t have to worry about the uneven joint of the cap and the rub-rail, or the jutting sections of the hull.
However, what ELSE was being heated? I wondered about caulking etc. overheating and becoming weakened. I don’t think this happened but it was impossible to tell. The work is somewhat dangerous in that metal scrapers, putty knives etc. and metal parts of the boat attached to or near the toe rail retain their heat for a while and can burn you. I lightly burned my cheek (the one on the face!), of all places, with a small putty knife when extricating myself from the shrouds and lifelines after bending myself into pretzel trying to reach a difficult part of the wood near the jib sheet traveller. The plastic handle on one scraper melted. I had to adjust my method after I saw this. Also dangerous because you are using 120 V AC near the water. Don’t drop your tool, and, especially, don’t fall in with it. I always feel nervous using AC electric tools on the dock or boat.