For an in depth discussion on tools to use during a fiberglass boat restoration, go to Tim Lackey's website http://triton381.com/resources/tools.htm Tim's site is the best I have seen dealing with sailboat restoration. This link goes to his excellent page about the tools he uses and provides a relative rating system. If you are interested in boat restoration or major projects I recommend spending some time reviewing his site.
Tools of Note
So far the tools I have been using are related to destruction and disassembly. Nonetheless, the axiom "The right tool for the right job" applies equally to destruction as to construction.
These are the tools I used to remove the through hulls. You can buy a very expensive "easy out" or just make your own. I bought 1/4 inch steel bar at Lowes and hack-sawed it to the length I needed. I bought two widths. One for the smaller 3/4 inch through-hulls and 1 1/2 inch for the larger. I gently tapped the steel bars up into the through-hulls then used the pipe wrench to twist them off.
Update: on 10 November 09 I saw that Jamestown Distributors sells a through hull removal tool called a "Step Up" tool used to remove through hulls. It looks like one tool will fit many different size through-hulls. But it cost $40.00.
Edited 29 April 09. I broke the head on one of the extractors this week. I think what happened is after I reamed out the head of the screw (on high speed), I flipped the bit around to extract the screw. But, I forgot to change the speed of the drill from high to low. The sudden grabbing of the screw head by the extractor at high speed snapped the tip of the extractor bit off. fortunately Lowe's sells individual bits so I'll just buy a replacement.
The "Grab-It" is a special bit for extracting stripped (cammed-out) screws and screws/bolts with broken heads. Though I have not used it to remove a screw with a broken head yet, I have used it to remove dozens of stripped screws. It is an amazing tool. I found it at Lowe's. This one is a set of three for different size screws. These are double headed bits. One side is used to ream a hole and the other has reverse cut threads to back the screw out. Both ends are used in "reverse." This tool has not failed so far to remove a screw.
Hardwood Wedges. Hardwood wedges are essential to removing wood that has been fastened to the boat with adhesive. A good example is the toe rail. After removing all the screws and bolts that fastened the toe rail to the deck I used hardwood wedges to drive under the lip to lift it up. I used a plastic mallet to drive the wedges in alternating style, one after the other leap-frogging down the rail. I used a Dremel Multi-Max tool slipped into the gap created by the wedges to cut the adhesive. I built a tapering jig and I cut the hardwood wedges on my table saw.
Dremel Multi-Max. I have not used this tool very much so I don't know how well it will hold up. I believe it is fairly new on the market and is designed to compete with the Fein Multi Multi-Master. Though I have not used the Multi-Master and expect it is a great tool, it is very expensive--about $400. The Dremel Multi-Max looks the same and seems to have most of the same attachments. But the Dremel cost $100 from Lowe's. So far the "flexible scraper blade" has proven invaluable.
Stubborn Screw Removal System
Some of the screws and bolts have been very tough to remove. The toe-rail screw fasteners are big--about #14. They have adhesive on the threads and so they don't easily back out of the nuts. Some I could not budge with my power drill and a special slotted bit. Working alone mostly I used vise grips to clamp on the nut below deck and a large Craftsman 3/8 screw driver with a pipe wrench to get the leverage to back the screw out. It was the only combination I could come up with and did the job fine.
Custom made slotted bit
Modified slotted bit driver and a 3/8 variable speed power drill. I needed a bigger slotted bit to back out the long machine screws that hold the toe rail down--as well as the winch bases. I checked Lowe's and the local hardware stores but I couldn't find anything. So, I took an old Snap-On slotted flat head screw driver (about 5/16) and cut the shaft off with a hack saw. Then I filed it a little fatter on my combination belt/disk sander and inserted into my power drill. Unless the screw/bolt was so stubborn I had to go to the Craftsman/pipe wrench technique, this work well.
In the past I have used a Dremel with a small wedge shaped grinding stone to grind back the gelcoat and prepare the surface to be filled with epoxy. But this time I used a technique I learned from Tim Lackey. Tim says that the Dremel technique does not make a wide enough cut for the epoxy filler to have the strength to prevent the gelcoat crack from reemerging. Instead he recommends using a Roloc grinder which is essentially a 2 inch round sanding disk that fits into the end of a drill. I bought mine at Lowe's. It cost about $12.00. It worked like a champ. The grove is a shallow "U" shape and about one inch wide from side to side at the top end. The drill was easy to control and in less than an hour I ground out several dozen stress cracks on the side decks and around the holes that were drilled to fasten the "eye-brow" strip to the side of the cabin top.
The Roloc style grinder attachement--perfect for grinding out stress cracks.
I bought this right angle drill adapter made by Milescraft at Lowes. It cost about $20.00. It was very useful drilling the holes in the seacock flanges that I could not reach with a regular drill. I also used it to install the dynaplate and expect I will use it in other places that are too confined for a standard drill. It seems to be well made. It has steel drive gears. There have been plenty of time in the past when I wished I had something like this.
Milescraft right angle drill adapter
Routers are indespensible for wood work. It's an amazing tool that, with a few jigs and special bits, can be used for all kinds of things. The bit in this picture is a pattern cutting bit. It is straight fluked, carbide tipped, with the bearing between the router and the cutting edge. Just as useful is a straight bit with the bearing on the end of the cutting edge. This is also an excellent technique to make an exact copy of a pre-cut pattern usually make out of thin plywood, e.g. 1/4" thick MDF, tacked or screwed to the wood being cut.
While milling the African Mahogany for the cabinet door rails and stiles, it was apparent the time had come to change the joiner blades. The blades on the planer can be flipped as they are two sided and I performed that task a couple of months ago. However, the jointer blades only have one cutting edge per blade. I could sharpen them and at some point I probably will and keep them as a back up set. In the mean time, I decided to buy new set of blades. I also needed to replace a small part on the blade guard so I ordered it at the same time. Changing the blades and setting the height was not difficult and took a couple of hours. Once completed the jointer was cutting like new. This is part of boat work. As much as I hate to stop working on the Far Reach (every day I don't work on the boat I have to add a day to the other end), you have to perform maintenance on the tools, the shop, and sometimes take time to practice a new skill before you are ready to perform it at the required level of proficiency.
Changing blades on the jointer. Sometimes work has to stop to perform maintenance on the tools and equipment.
I have never done any real scarfing. I have read about experienced wood workers and shipwrights making them with hand planes and a straight edge. I think I could do it that way if I was going to use gap filling epoxy as an adhesive. But, I'd like a more durable joint and if I am to use a plastic resin glue or resorcinol then I will need very tight joints. At my present skill level that will require a machine cut joint. So, today I made a jig I read about in Fred Bingham's book, Boat Joinery and Cabinetmaking Simplified." I have seen this jig on other sites and to be honest I don't know how well it works. I think the feather edges are questionable. I would rather learn how to make a nibbed scarf but I'll try this first. I'll make some practice joints and then mill them to try to override the feather edges. It took several hours to make the jig accurately using the best materials I had on hand. It will be interesting to see how it works. I need to master scarf making as I need to build the long planks for the bulwarks.
I built a 12:1 scarfing jig. It remains to be seen how well it works.
I made the matching base for the router. It scews in the the base via existing holes.
Extracting a Broken Bronze Screw
The mission was to mortise three small bronze plates into the edge of the folding table top. The inserts are secured into the wood with 7/8" #8 bronze FH screws. Between the two FH's is a tapped hole for a 10-24 round head machine screw that secures the removable fiddle to the edge of the table top. I cut the 1/8" thick x 1/2" wide x 1" long plates from my bronze sheet stock and shaped them by filing, grinding, etc. It was nerve racking mortising out the small square for the bronze insert. But I got it done and it looked good. But, (oh how I hate those buts . . . .) when I went to install them, one of the screws broke off in the edge grain for the ash--very hard wood. Not good. John not happy. I have tools to remove stripped heads but not screws broken off below the surface of the wood. I went into the house, made some coffee, and searched the woodenboat forum (WoodenBoat is one of only two magazine I subscribe to with Practical Sailor being the other) and hidden in one of the threads was a great discussion about the very problem I was facing. I found a post by Peter Sibley of NSW Australia that described, with pictures, a technique for removing a broken screw. Other folks contributed to the discussion and I ended up kludging several techniques together. I used a split pin I had in a collection of loose bolts. I used a hacksaw to cut a notch in the end of the pin, chucked it into my drill and drilled down around the screw. I only had to go down about 7/8". Then, I used a tiny screwdriver to break off the wood column and fished it out with the screw embedded inside. I filled the hole with G Flex epoxy into which you can install a screw after it cures. Later today, I applied the second coat of varnish to one side of the table top.
I used a hacksaw to cut a notch into the end of a split pin and chucked it into my cordless drill. It's a good technique to remove a screw when the shaft breaks off below the surface.