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Nick C

smoothing epoxy fillets

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I have benefitted from lots of good information on technique on this forum so I thought I would share something I have been tinkering with lately. Since sanding is not my favorite task, and getting into the curve of an epoxy fillet can be/is challenging, I have been tinkering with a scraper setup.

 

I have used cabinet scrapers for years in furniture building and have learned that an easier and more ergonomic way to deal with small parts is to use paint and glue scrapers kept sharp. So I was using them on my boat project but working with epoxy means frequent sharpening, so I got a paint scraper with a carbide blade. Works great on flat surfaces and I haven’t had to sharpen it yet.

 

But that doesn’t work on curves so I have tried to grind down scrapers but have come up with nothing satisfactory. I found some carbide scraper blades on Amazon.com and thought I could just put them on my glue scraper. Nope – the hole is too small (can’t make it larger – it’s carbide…). The hole diameter is 5.5mm (0.21in). So I made a test handle by using thickened epoxy to hold a 10-24 screw in an old tool handle. You can see the prototype isn’t too pretty.

 

It works great. I have smoothed the radius of fillets and worked it hard enough it warmed up but haven’t dulled it yet. It is sharp enough and small enough that care is needed on bare wood to avoid gouging. I may turn a smaller diameter handle or try a bent screw to get into corners.

 

I wouldn’t need this if I could make perfect fillets …

 

Photos are of the steel scrapers I use, the carbide paint scraper, and the little carbide set.

 

 

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I like it ... Have to try that out as like you i am not a real fan of sanding :)

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a quite simple way to make epoxy fillets slick and smooth is to dip your gloved finger into regular rubbing alcohol and smooth while still wet

You DO wear gloves don''t you?

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Great idea.  The nice thing about about scraping is no need for a respirator or dust mask (I only wear them when sanding or painting; I'm sure some would advocate wearing them scraping as well, but I have never found it necessary.).

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For me, the best way to sand fillets----is not to have to. I make my fillets with a tool made from a plastic material kinda like a bondo squeegee, but harder. B&B also provides the radius tools they provide in their kits from plywood. Smooth out the sharp edges of these. After running the tool to make the radius, go back with a putty knife and scrape up the ridge the tool leaves on either side of the fillet. Seems like Alan shows how to do this in a video. Making your fillet "putty" the right consistency is important. If it's too wet, the fillet will sag. If it's too dry, the fillet will be rough and "chunky". Charlie's wet glove is a great idea too, but ya still have to deal with those ridges.

 

There are times when ya still gotta sand or scrape the dang things. Looks like Nick has solved that dilemma for us. Sometimes it takes a "newbie" to show us old codgers how it's done!

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I have no problem on a strait run, the issues start with me when going around a sharp curve like were a Carlin meets a frame when under the boat on your back with your face three inch's from the frame. They tend to get a bit messy :)

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Yep, I have several fillet tools and a gloved finger, but still need to sand or scrape before placing tape unless working green. Then after the tape is on and fill coat applied I can still feel bumps and edges that I know will appear through the painted surface. So I like the round scraper better than the sandpaper and dowel approach. The straightedged scrapers work very well for taking the selvage edge off FG tape, but there are still detectable edges so I have been fairing them. The little round scraper is working well for me in final finishing the inside curve.

 

At my skill level, I like tape better than cutting strips, pulling threads, using peel ply, etc. Along with Alan’s videos and others on YouTube, check out Russell Brown’s videos on OffCenterHarbor.com to see a master at work. I am not there yet and probably never will be. The 10-foot Rule applies to my boats…

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