Revealing the Mahogany


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Some shots of the Mahogany ribs being cleaned up on my Mansfield... Sanding all be hand.


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Has to be a better way... HELP

Can anyone recommend a better way to sand these mahogany ribs other than all by hand? I do not want to harm the fiberglass in between if at all possible. What would you all do?


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But you might try a sponge sander type thing to back up your sandpaper. It's a cense foam and makes a good flexible sanding block.
I use a small pad sander for rib tops, 120 minimum or finer.
Don't use a ROS, it's too "course" and will leave circular scratches.

I'd only sand after I chemically removed all old varnish.

I guess that is my other option. To this point I have been sanding off the old varnish. What would you recommend as a good, low fume varnish remover? I am working in my basement this winter, and would like to avoid any serious fumes...

good low fume stripper.... In my experience the good stuff is high in vapors. The friendly strippers just don't seem to do as well.
Your mileage may vary.
I wouldn't recommend stripper because you really can't isolate the wood from the fiberglass and some stripper is bound to get on the glass between the ribs or on the resin in the bottom. Handsanding, or scraping if the rib surface is smooth enough, will offer the best control. I'd use #150 or #120 so you take away the varnish but not too much wood. Then finish with#220. I take a sheet on sandpaper and cut it into 4 pieces 4.5 x 5.5" inches - Then fold the smaller pieces in half both ways - then cut along the fold on a longer side, from the outside edge to the center. Then fold the paper so you have a small, 4 layer pad. There you go. You can get better control if you wear latex gloves so you aren't sanding your fingerprints off as you work.

That's all I know...


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I've used that "orange" (citris?) stripper in the house with success.
Put in on the "rib" only with a brush and let it sit. After it works for a while, scrap it and the vanish off, carefully, so you don't get the stripper on the glass/resin.

I wouldn't use anything else in the house.

I also found some stuff called Ready-Strip. All natural, almost no fumes. Supposed to be good..???
I did find some called Citristrip - they have it at Home Depot. I'll give it s shot if the Ready-Strip does not work...
We'll see. Thanks.

A good palm sander with a foam contour pad (softer and thicker than the standard felt pad) would easily do the job without leaving swirl marks or chewing up the glass next to the wood. I'd probably start with 100 grit, finish with 120-150 grit and varnish the whole inside once done. That darkening of the fiberglass mat layer over the bottom panels is from UV, so it wouldn't hurt to coat it as well and give it some protection. The best palm sander on the market is this one:
It's worth every penny and mine (purchased around 1975) is still working fine.

Working inside a fiberglass canoe with stripper while trying to apply it on some parts and not get it on others (because it will attack resin) is a big mess just waiting to happen.
Steve, Porter Cable (actually Rockwell back when I bought mine) used to sell the contour pad as an accessory, though I don't see any on their website these days. On the Speedblock model, the normal pad is an aluminum square plate with 1/4"-3/8" felt glued to it, probably pretty similar to your foam pad. It was held to the sander's base by four screws. The contour pad had the same aluminum plate, but with about 3/4" of flexible, fairly soft, closed-cell foam glued to it. To use it, you unscrewed and removed the felt pad and plate and screwed on the contour pad. Since it was thicker, you also needed slightly longer pieces of sandpaper, maybe about 1" longer than the 1/4 sheets that were normally used with the felt plate.

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it's possible to get the same effect by just sticking a square of foam (ethafoam packing foam, ensolite foam, etc.)between your existing pad and the sandpaper with no glue and letting the paper itself and the paper clamps on the sander hold it in place. It could always be glued to the standard pad or attached with double-sided tape, but I doubt it's really needed if you snug the paper down tightly over the extra foam chunk. You're not trying to make a drastic change in the way the sander works, you're just giving it a little more cushion so that the pad can conform a bit better to the curved faces of the ribs in the areas with sharp bends.
Thanks Todd... Mine is actually the 340 Model which I got a few years ago and has been discontinued, but similar none-the-less. I will try that foam idea - should work I would think...
Thanks for your help,