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Next year, I plan to do the bottom of my Cal 33. Since a lot of sanding will be involved, its going to be important to have some sort of system in place to collect the dust. I would appreciate any suggestions for dust collection systems that would work effectively with the dust from bottom paint.

RichardM
S/V Raven
 

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I think any effective "dustless" sanding system is going to involve a shop vac with a good prefilter and filter hooked up to a sander with an attachment for such. I tried a palm sander with a dust catch bag for light sanding and found that there was not near enough suction to hold onto enough dust. A shop vac hooked up to the same sander worked great. One caveat--I was only doing a surface roughing for paint prep. But I'm sure a good vacuum and filter will be involved no matter how much you are doing.
 

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Makita Orbital Sander $60... Shop Vac $40...

Just Gotta clean out the prefilter every couple sheets of paper...
 

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I used a rigid combo shop vac and palm sander this spring it worked well,
the shop vac was small but 5 hp
4 Gal Portable Wet/Dry Vac - RIDGID Professional Tools

The sander was a traditional square sander, but equipped with holes in the pad and a "vacuum" assisted" motor to help propel the dust into the vacuum hose.
RIDGID 1/4 In. Sheet Sander R2501 at The Home Depot

Worked well, very little dust escaped the vacuum.

A note on the sander/shop vac, It has been recommended that an orbiting sander be used over the traditional palm sander. I borrowed an older orbiting sander and found it lacking in hp to do the job. As well I had an older shop vac, with less than 1/2 the hp of the rigid, it wasn't up to the task so I bought the rigid. So I guess I would recommend that you not cheap out on either. As well, not all palm/orbiting sanders have built in "vacuum assist" so ask. When I write vacuum assist I mean that the rigid is designed to do both vibrate the sander and propel the dust into the bag attachment/vacuum hose.

John
 

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I rented an orbital sander and shopvac from the marina. Worked exceptionally well. It was an older Fein machine. The marina owner admitted paying $1,000 for the pair but it has worked flawlessly. He said that Fein and Festool are the 2 top of the line products but you will have trouble getting repair parts for the Festool. Best thing, in my book, would be to check your marina to see if the have a sander / vac combo you can reserve / rent or go to a tool rental company to see if you can rent one there. $1,000 bucks is a lot of money! I don't know if the cheaper machines would be up to the job.
 

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RO sander hooked up to a ShopVac will work fine.

After several years of annoyance at having to clean the internal filter in the ShopVac all too often -- both at the boat and at home in my make-shift woodshop -- I decided to try this puppy out.

The Dust Deputy - YouTube

All I can say is that I'm now one happy camper. I upgraded the internal ShopVac filter to a HEPA filter, and the difference has been significant. It'll run all day without any drop off of suction. I haven't had to clean the HEPA filter in over three months.
 

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Collecting the dust is pretty easy with the stuff like the dust deputy

I do find there is WIDE range in how well the sanders feed the dust to the collection system

While my Porter Cable collects a LOT of dust i would NOT call it dust free no matter whats sucking on its intake hose :)
 

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To sand our bottom, I use a $50 Craftsman shop vac connected to a Rigid 6" 6-hole random orbit sander. I use 80 grit paper, changing every 10 minutes or so. Works flawlessly, all for less than $150.

I do not recommend 5" palm sanders because there just isn't enough surface are on the pads and sanding a 37' hull will take forever. it really pays to but the right tools for the job.
 

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I just posted this in another area, but it bears repeating. A drywall sanding screen is the best method I've ever used. The sanding screens cost about $1 each, they last forever, they are attached to a cushioned, flat pad on the end of a long handle. You dip the pad into a bucket of water and essentially scrub the paint away. No dust at all. I had a friend just sanded a nasty looking bottom of his Catalina 30 using this technique, and he was able to make the bottom as smooth as a baby's butt in less than two hours. No high spots, no low spots, just slick as a whistle. After a couple hours of drying time, he masked the waterline and applied the bottom paint. The bottom was smooth as silk.

You can purchase the Drywall sanding screens at Home Depot, Lowes, and many larger hardware stores.

Cheers,

Gary 8)
 

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I don't get using a flat sanding pad for drywall on a round bottom boat? Never have I seen or heard of using this type of equipment to sand the bottom of a boat? It just doesn't make sense to me?

Maybe for a light sanding I suppose, but if your taking down a significant amount of paint I cant see using anything but a power tool? or of course soda blasting if you really need to get rid of some build up. :)
 

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Keep in mind the pad at the end of the pole swivels, and the area you are sanding is relatively small, therefore it's nearly flat. Same as if you were using an orbital sander that has a flat pad beneath the sandpaper. I learned of this technique about 6 years ago when my sailing instructor saw me battling an orbital sander on the bottom of my Catalina 27. Not only do you not have to crawl beneath the boat, but it's also a lot easier on the arms and hands.



Keep in mind the sanding surface is just 4-3/8 X 11.5 inches, and each time you dip the screen into the bucket of water the screen is washed clean, whereas sandpaper just plugs up. This alone makes a huge difference.

Last week I sanded the sides of the boat above the rub-rail. Now, my boat is just a few feet from boats on either side of me, therefore instead of using my orbital sander I used a 3-M sanding sponge. It did a fabulous job, the finish is quite similar to what I would have achieved using D400 wet/dry sandpaper, I sanded the boat wet, rinsed the sponge frequently in a bucket of warm water and absolutely no dust problem. The sanding sponge is flexible, allowed me to get into some really tight places I could not have accessed with the orbital sander and after rinsing it's just as good as the day I bought it.

Sometimes unconventional tools can be used for jobs other than which they were intended--this is just a few examples.

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks to everyone who offered advice and assistance. I'll have a lot of options for next spring.

RichardM
S/V Raven
Cal 33
 
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