I’m at the stage in my wherry building project where it is now, for the most part, all about sanding. And because I’m not only interested in building a wherry that is functional, but something that is also beautiful to look at and a joy to row, I’m taking extra care.
Up to this point, using my orbital sander has helped speed along the process, but it hasn’t improved the experience. They’re noisy, generate a lot of dust, and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to remove too much material, something I’ve inadvertently done on more than one occasion.
So now I’m back to sanding by hand. I use a sanding block, or wrap the sandpaper around a dowel for the seams in between the planks. It’s time consuming, tedious, and not “fun” or “entertaining” in a way that would appeal to most people, but I kind of like it nonetheless. It must be something about the focused attention. The 2 or 3 hours I spend sanding between each coat tends to quiet the incessant chatter in my mind and in a strange way provides a wonderful vacation away from myself. There’s also this sensory reward that comes from running the tips of your fingers or the palm of your hand across the surface of something as smooth as whalebone, and knowing that the reason it is so smooth is because of your efforts.
So, here’s what I have left to do: sand the exterior hull and then apply 4 coats of exterior paint with sanding between each coat, apply one more coat of epoxy to the interior and then 4 or 5 coats of varnish with sanding between each of those coats. Let’s say 3 hours of sanding per coat. That gives me about 30 hours of vacation time to look forward to.