Given the rules, my aversion to scraping, and the health risks associated with every stripper I've see (either methylene chloride, NMP, or high pH) I'm not a fan to start with.
So the project before my next bottom job will be to pick out a new vacuum sander. I have a DeWalt 1/4-sheet sander that I use with a HEPA vacuum and a Dust Deputy. The vacuum part works find, and the sander was inexpensive and has been very durable. I don't feel cheated, not at all. But removal rates are slow and it is not random orbit (leaves swirls).
The other motivation is that I did some paint testing for Practical Sailor, including 6 types on my boat. All of the copper paints are doing well, but two of the non-copper paints really suck, so there will be some serious sanding involved.
What are the criteria?
- Speed of removal.
- Appearance and swirls. Within the random orbit class, this is more related to the grit and use than the sander.
- Vibration. Includes ergonomic shape and padding.
- Dust collection.
- Weight. Overhead, it adds up.
- Price. But the older I get that matters less, as I have learned the value or quality tools.
- Durability (all of the candidate brands should outlive most DIYs
- Usability. Includes nimbleness and one-hand operation.
- Size. Still undecided. If the hull is curved, larger does not put that much more sanding surface on the hull.
So who's in the running?
- DeWalt. The RO 5-inch is faster than what I have and only $65.
- Bosch. The dual mode GET75-6 is expensive but leading the wish list. Supposed to be very fast, but it's near $300. But time saved from sanding bottom paint counts triple on your life score.
- Porter Cable. They have a 6-inch RO for $160 that is well regarded.
- Fein. They also make an anti-fouling sanding "fleece" that may fit others.
- Festool. Had to put it on the list. About double the Bosch for the same size.