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Old 02-16-2013
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Best sander for bottom sanding?

Every couple of years we like to go through and sand the bottom really well before a new coat of vc17. What we use is a couple of Porter Cable 5" random orbitals. They works good but seem to lack power to really get the job done in a timely manner. I have done to searching and have read people talking about the Festool 150. Is this really a faster tool? I am looking for something between the random orbital and a 7" grinder :-) . And the festool sounds like it has great dust collection for sanding inside the storage barn. Thanks for any feedback.
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Old 02-16-2013
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

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Originally Posted by 1970Columbia34 View Post
Every couple of years we like to go through and sand the bottom really well before a new coat of vc17. What we use is a couple of Porter Cable 5" random orbitals. They works good but seem to lack power to really get the job done in a timely manner. I have done to searching and have read people talking about the Festool 150. Is this really a faster tool? I am looking for something between the random orbital and a 7" grinder :-) . And the festool sounds like it has great dust collection for sanding inside the storage barn. Thanks for any feedback.
The Porter Cables will eventually start to squeal and burn out too. They don't like being upside down with copper being sucked into them. At my friends boat yard they get three to four years out of Fein before it needs to be sent out for repair. The Porter Cable machines 94766 etc.. are on a rotating basis and get 4-8 months.... Sanding bottom paint is a death sentence for ANY sander it is just a matter of time. For the average DIY doing it once per year a Festool or Fein will likely outlast you. A Porter Cable will get you maybe 10+/- sandings, I've killed them in just two as it depends I suppose on the copper content of the paint............

Yes the Festool or the Fein will be MUCH faster. They also extract dust far better and last longer. Their sand paper actually lasts longer too. Copper paint chews through cheap home center quality sand paper....

If I was buying right now it would be the Festool sander and vacuum. They don't gouge you on paper nearly as badly as Fein does but both are tremendous products that DO make a difference.

Don't discount the vacuum as an integral part of the sander, especially with Festool. The variable speed allows you to keep the pad spinning on the surface which speeds up work and dials pad rotation to balance perfectly with dust extraction. With a standard shop vac they tend to "over suck" and stall the rotation of the pad by sucking it to the hull far too hard. This both kills performance and eats through paper. A router speed control on a cheap vac can help but is not the best substitute for the complete Festool system. I am slowly investing in Festool and have been using Fein products for years. On of my favorite things Festool sells are the Velcro backed Scotch-Brite pads for the RO sanders. I use them on my jointer, table saw, band saw and drill press cast iron tables to keep them shiny & rust free. They also work way better than sand paper for anual spring "touch up" for the bottom paint to "rough it up"....

They are truly superior products in every way, but you do pay for it...... With my Porter Cable 5" I finally threw it away as Sears stopped honoring my "lifetime warranty" that I paid extra for... BEWARE of the Sears "extended lifetime warranties" they are NOT worth the paper they are written on. I switched to Rigid for a cheap 5" RO and am on my second one with no questions asked...
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 02-16-2013 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 02-16-2013
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

I've been using a hepa filtered Skill brand POS... it's a 1/4 sheet sander. It has a vacuum assist into the hepa canister, and works OK... but now I've dropped the canister on the concrete floor and it no longer holds on the sander. It looks like it's also setup to take a standard shop-vac connection. I'll find that out soon. I suspect the sander won't live much past doing the boat. But then I could be wrong.

I CAN say that it's kept a decent portion of the dust down into the canister, at least until I broke the canister.

I guarantee the Porter Cable covers more area. Although this little guy seems to take lots of pressure.
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Festool...I rent it from our Marina anytime I want to sand the bottom.
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Old 02-16-2013
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

For a scuff before a new coat I've been using a DeWalt 1/4 sheet sander for 20 years (plus other shop use). I use a vacuum with a very long hose (25 feet of the very cheap Home Depot corrugated sump pump hose--very light); because I have cats I can set the vacuum in the center and reach the whole boat.

For paper I use drywall paper. It doesn't last very long, but the vacuum is very efficient and it positively resists clogging with soft paint. About 4 sheets with my current boat. It makes for a very neat workplace.

Because I run the paint for 2 years and scrub a few times, I never get build-up and thus only a scuff is required.
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

I'd say since he's just brazing VC-17 (which is very hard paint), he should be looking for metal paper... 3m sells paper with a "sticky" backing, I've been using, but I'm taking off ablative, so it's probably not the paper for you... I've yet to have paper slip though. Purple grade I am using, I think they make some for automotive that'll do the trick to braise VC-17 for another coat. I can't imagine you needing to take the 17 off though, just rough it up (since it's such a thin layer when applied) and it self-levels.
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

Yeah I am just looking to rough it up / smooth it out for a new coat. Its thought to invest 500+ dollars into a sander for limited use. I never thought of automotive paper vs the lowes version I have been using.
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

Not sure how it would work with bottom paint, but a friend highly recommends Norton "3X" sandpapers for long lasting and non clogging....
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

During my wood working days we went thru a lot of random orbit sanders until we upgraded to Fein and festool. Not only are they faster; they last A LOT longer. The finish is much better as well. It's a day and night difference when compared to other sanders.
Can you justify the cost?
Fein Air Random Orbit Sander Models MSF 636-1 M10000-6 - Walter Tool Company
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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Best sander for bottom sanding?

Something to keep in mind if you are only doing your own boat once a year - you can buy 10 or 12 cheap R/O sanders for what a Fein costs. I got several years out of a De Walt and right now I've got a ROK that cost me all of $35. I use Swiss Klingspor disks and they work great.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that very many people start at way too fine a grade of paper - 80 or even 100. I do most of my sanding with 40 grit and finish with 80 on the bottom. R/O's leave a much finer surface than the same grit by hand. I also longboard my bottom with the pictured body "file".
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Last edited by SloopJonB; 12-24-2013 at 03:02 AM.
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