Sanding Bright Work

There are lots of ways to do most jobs, and the number of materials to choose from grows steadily. The owner or shipwright is left with the decision of employing the right combination of, preparation tools and techniques to complete the job.

Before sanding or stripping wood protect the adjacent area with masking tape. Bright work that is in fair to good condition will show no signs of checking cracking or peeling. The surface should be washed first with mild soap or a teak cleaner, then sand with 320-grit paper. Clean your work and the surrounding area with a vacuum. Removing any remaining dust from the surface wiping lightly with tack rag, a lint free rag dampened with solvent will also work. Replace any masking tape that has been damaged by sanding. You may not be able to tell by looking what type of varnish was used last. Using the wrong type of varnish may cause pealing and blistering of the old varnish. To find out what finish material has been used on the boat, wet a rag with acetone and let it stand on some non-conspicuous area for five to ten minutes. If the finish is two-part epoxy it will remain hard, if the finish has softened you have a single component product.

Bright work showing any discoloration, lifting, cracking or peeling must be removed completely. Here is a way to save some time and money, varnish built up may be softened with a heat gun and removed using a cabinet scraper. Follow up with paint stripper then scrubbing with bronze wool. Sand with 220 then 320-grit papers, clean the area with a vacuum and wipe the surface gently with a tack rag. Replace any masking tape that has been damaged by your work.

Varnish that has penetrated deep into the wood grain can be removed by sanding with 60 or 80 grit paper to remove the initial surface. Then applying a stripper, wrap the area in tinfoil and allowed this to stand in the shade a couple of hours this will slow evaporation. The stripper will pull the varnish up from the wood grain where it may be easily removed. Paint stripper has a tendency to raise the wood grain, so sanding with successively finer grit sandpaper i.e. 120 then 220 finally 320 grit will be necessary to restore a smooth surface to the wood. After completing the stripping and sanding of brightwork., I remove any damaged masking tape and replace it with new tape. Clean the area with a vacuum, then tack rag the surface I intend to varnish.

Preparation of the wood surface is important being the foundation on which your skill is revealed. “It is good to take care in the beginning and near the end. If near the end we rush we risk spoiling our careful work of the beginning” Lao-tzu 500 BC.


copyright2008 Terry Capp

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