This past week, I have been involved with renewing the varnish on our 8' sailing pram that was given us by a kind friend as a tender for our H28, "Bright Star". Now, I'm not usualy one who gets snagged by new gadgets that are supposed to make house painting easier for family projects. In fact, I usually hire a painter for that kind of stuff as boats are my forte.
Several years ago a salesman, who was promoting 3M products, gave me a sample of a piece of 120 grit abrasive material that is labled "Sand Blaster". The abrasive pad has a foam waffle back that is a nausiating shade of purple which, should please any home owner who is hell bent on painting his or her kitchen cabinets. After working in the usual manner of first block sanding the exterior of the lap strake pram with 120 grit paper, laying on four coats of varnish using 220 grit between coats, it came time to tackle the interior. Having taken out everything that could come out, I began sanding the interior which is varnish over 1/4" mahogony ply. The few coats that had been put on were showing signs of breaking down and required a lot of work with a Fein Multi Tool sander and a lot of hand work using various felt pads, folded paper and ice cream sticks with paper glued on them in order to get into the nooks and crannies and around the copper roves. It is slow, madenley slow, work and fingers litterly get raw if not protected by tape. On the evening of the fourth day, I was almost half way through the project and went to the sandpaper rack for a new piece of 120. As I pulled out a sheet, a yellow cardboard sleeve with a weird purple waffle pad apeared and I remembered having been given it a few years ago and tossing it in the back of the rack. What the hell, I thought, it can't be any worse than what I have been dealing with the past four days. So I took it out of the wrapper, cut it to half it's length and proceeded to start using it. Wow, what a differece it made! My fingers stayed put where they belonged and that purple foam gripped and padded my fingers giving no indication of allowing me to slip off of the pad as often happens with regular sand paper. Sanding around the copper roves was a snap. And cutting into the planking laps in the hollow side of the hull was easier than attempting to do it with an icecream stick or the Fien sander. In addition, I have already sanded nearly half of the second side of the interior and the pad does not even show any signs of wearing out! It is still as sharp and accurate as it was when I started using it last night. I really don't go out looking for kooky tools to replace my traditional ones but, this purple foam backed abrasive pad by 3M is really a good thing!
No, 3M does not pay me to endorse their products. Next time you are in for a tricky sanding project where you are working in restricted spaces, this weird looking purple pad might save your day.