Two Quick Tips  
By Donald Freix - Fish Creek, Wiscousin - USA

Cheap 4 x 24 Orbital Sander

Thanks so very much to you and all of those who have contributed so much with ideas, processes and expertise to help all of us attain better quality results with our boat work. Perhaps the photos of my orbital sander conversion will help ease the chore and improve results for some of your readers while performing initial hull fairing on their boat projects. Hopefully these photos will inspire variations on this theme. This particular unit works best on convex curves and larger surfaces.

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Using a $2 (yard sale) Craftsman Orbital sander whose felt pad had nearly disintegrated and the wing-nut sandpaper fasteners from a discarded drywall hand sanding block, I fashioned the 4 mm plywood platen extension shown on the old sander, removed the metal base originally holding the felt, and using contact cement, attached the plywood to the sander. It has held up for over 5 years and probably 100 hours of use on various projects. This plywood base was sized to use standard 4" x 24" sanding belts. I have made several versions of this set-up, both powered and manually operated, using different widths and lengths and thickness of sanding block material and different sander motors. I have found that scraps of the 2 mm think, dense, foam underlayment used for, "Pergo," type floor installations makes a good backer between the sandpaper and the sanding block.

My Small Job Paint Sprayer

Recently needing to do a small spray finishing job, I initially hesitated to begin the job because of the work and effort needed to clean my regular spray finishing equipment so thoroughly after each use, for such a very small project. Being a person who recycles and who hates to throw anything away, I remembered the household cleaner, spray bottle that I had just emptied the day before in the process of scrubbing the bath tub and thought to myself that I might have the answer to my dilemma. With a simple dish detergent wash, clean water rinse and thorough drying , I had in hand my new low pressure, spray finishing equipment for this project. I thinned a small quantity of varnish and tried the sprayer in a cardboard box. With very little overspray, I could vary the spray with this particular nozzle by squeezing faster or slower as I swept the nozzle across the work surface. With a couple of coats of finish (allowing for proper drying time), I completed my original project with my new sprayer, with very little fuss and no need for extensive cleaning of any equipment.

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Being so very pleased with my new tool, and having small amounts of varnish in a couple of different cans that needed to be used up, I thinned, strained and mixed the dregs of these compatible finishes, filled my spray bottle and proceeded to make short work of revarnishing some wood spars, two pairs of oars and the wooden handles of my arsenal of garden tools. All this work was done over the period of a couple of days. The bottle and sprayer seem to be in good condition and the nozzle has yet to clog. I simply turn the nozzle to the Off position and wiped the surface of it with a clean rag when I am finished with it.

Refilling containers with substances other than what they were originally intended for is not recommended. Carefully and clearly label all your shop materials, and as always, keep finishes and cleaners in a safe place and away from children and pets.

Don Freix
Northeast Wisconsin