Q-talk 92 - Kurt's Corner - Finishing - JUST PLANE TOOLS

Kurt Van Dyke Coco, FL

This month's Q-tips are about finishing tools and time saving techniques. These apply to all finishing processes. One tip, for example, from fellow Q1 builder, Roy Shannon, is to do a "pre-finish" of the wing and canard surfaces on saw horses before attaching them to the fuselage. Finish only within 5" of where the mounting tapes will be installed. Access is much easier at this stage, not to mention a big savings in back fatigue.

The finishing tools listed in the Quickie plans leave a lot to be desired when considering practicality. From an industrial engineering ergonomics (human use) analysis, there is much room for improvement. No information is given about good filling tools and the sanding tools mentioned, do not take into consideration their long-term use and effect. There is no way to hold the tool without introducing pressure points in the hand, pinch points in the fingers and wrist stress (contributing factor to carpal-tunnel syndrome). Luckily, the fix is easy.

First, for filling tools, I selected tools readily available from the hardware store in the drywall-finishing department. I found three "v-notched" slurry spreaders of different depths; 1/8", 3/16" and 1/4" deep. These allowed the flexibility to match various situations. I used them only to distribute slurry across the surface. Next, I used a plastic squeegee-type spreader to push the slurry into and smooth across the surface. This blade is about 12" wide. All the tools can be purchased for under $10.00.

The design of the sanding blocks in the plans will cause painful hands. I decided they needed handles for a firm, but comfortable, grip. I created them using several steps.

1)1 started with a 22-inch belt from a power belt sander (3 or 4 inch width - your choice) and cut it across the seam. You can select the grit. I used 40, 60 and 100 grit and made three different sanding tools for micro + epoxy filler.

2) After measuring the length and allowing 2 inches on each end for clamping, I cut two pieces of 3/4-inch thick wood to 17 inches long.

3) I rounded the ends of the bottom piece with the router (or power sander) to prevent cutting the belt

4) I cut two sections of 1-1/4" diameter pipe into 5-inch lengths and used two 6-inch bolts with wing nuts and washers (2 fender and 4 normal). Carriage bolts will work well. I drilled and mounted the pipes about 11 inches apart through the top piece with the bolts (countersink the heads so you can clamp it to the bottom piece).

5) I used double stick carpet tape to secure the cut belt to the bottom piece of wood and wrapped the ends over the top.

6) Final assembly was to join the top piece of wood with the handles to the bottom piece of wood (over the belt ends) and secure with screws. I used 1-1/4 inch galvanized "deck-screws" because of their incredible strength and inexpensive price. Walla! You can also add some cushion under the belt, like the thin rubber pad for toolboxes, to allow the belt to conform just a little when sanding compound surfaces. So far, these have worked well. Keep in mind, there is a danger in using power tools to sand. You could damage the foam substrate from the heat. All surfaces must be finished by hand. Good luck and don't hesitate to try a new tool if you can't find one specifically made for the job.


You can order a printed copy of Q-talk #92 by using the Q-talk Back Issue Order Page.