Wednesday 18 May 2011

Low-Buck Tools: Sandpaper Cutter

     "I got eight little fingers and only two thumbs..."
                                                               -Chris Rea

     One thing that goes hand in hand with boat ownership is sanding.  In the spring you have to sand the hull before you slap on bottom paint, the brightwork always needs sanding,  the rough edges of the hole you just cut in your instrument panel that is a) too small and b) 3/4" too far to starboard, and the list goes on.  Sandpaper is tough on scissors, and , if you're like me, no matter how hard you try, it seems like the pieces you cut are never square and never fit the sanding block or the sander properly.
    In Rebecca Wittman's book "The Brightwork Companion"
The Brightwork Companion : Tried-and-True Methods and Strongly Held Opinions in Thirteen and One-Half Chapters

She describes building a sandpaper cutter.  I added a couple of improvements to her original idea, and have found this to be a big timesaver.
Here's what you need:
Scrap of plywood or particle board, at least 11" x 15"
Scrap of 1x2" or lath, or doorstop, or whatever thin narrow scrap you have lying around
A 12" hacksaw blade
#6 screws and washers- 4 of each.
A Sharpie -type pen
A full piece of sandpaper (for measuring.  you can use it to sand the wood too, if you want to get fancy.)

   Screw the hacksaw blade, TOOTH EDGE OUT, along the right side of your scrap ply, about an inch in from the edge, with a washer between the blade and the wood, and another between the head of the screw and the blade-  in other words, the blade is the meat in a washer sandwich, okay?    Cut down your scrap lath, and screw to the plywood as a bottom "bumper" for your sandpaper.  End result should look like this:

   Your sandpaper should be 9" wide x 11" long.  1/2 of 9" is 4 1/2", right?  So, mark a line down the middle of the ply, measuring from the TOOTH edge of the hacksaw blade. Mark 1/3 sheet measurement as well if you want.  This is where the edge of your sandpaper should line up to be trimmed to size.  If you want ot get fancy, use your piece of sandpaper to sand off all of the old pencil marks, paint, and smudges on your scraps.
As you can see, I didn't get fancy.

       To cut your sandpaper, simply slide the sheet grit side down under the blade, and with  a couple of fingers of your left hand apply pressure to the blade while pulling the paper up with your right hand. Turn your paper 90 degrees to cut your 1/2 sheet down to 1/4 sheets.

      This sandpaper cutter takes about 10 minutes to build.  Optionally, you can drill a hole to hang the cutter from your low-buck sanding station, along with your low-buck fairing boards.

(Sorry about the blurry pics-  minor camera malfunction.)

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