By Tom and Kaye Assenmacher  

Posted 7/12/2015
Hit Counter Visits since 7/12/2015

Many times one needs to do a ‘dusty’ sanding job on or around one’s 'good old boat', in this case, the good old boat is SHEARWATER, our 1975 MK-II Yawl.  

Years ago (we’ve owned SHEARWATER since 1982)  we needed to do some major sanding work inside our boat, and also, we occasionally needed to do some ‘bottom sanding’ in close proximity to other boats in our local boatyard.  In either case, sanding is REALLY MESSY, and in the case of exterior sanding, very UN-NEIGHBORLY (as sanding bottom paint can really make a ‘mess’ on boats in close proximity in addition of getting ones own boat covered with various colored sanding dust)!!  

We (sort of) solved this problem by ‘inventing’ our own ‘dustless’ sanding system using a ‘wet/dry’ shop vacuum, a ‘dry-wall’ 5 gallon bucket, some PVC pipe fittings, and some flexible (and inexpensive) bilge pump hose, along with an orbital disc sander with a vacuum (or dust-bag) attachment.



True, one could simply use the ‘wet/dry’ vacuum connected directly to the orbital sander, but that would require a lot of vacuum bags, or filters for a large sanding job, and ‘being cheap’, we like to use this system.

 The following is basically how we put this system together:


Parts Required  

- A 'shop vac' (wet and/or dry - wet preferred).


-         A good/clean ‘dry-wall’ 5 gallon bucket (can be purchased at most hardware stores) which has a good lid and lid gasket.


-        Approximately 30’ of 1.5” ‘Bilgeflex’ bilge pump hose.


-         PVC pipe fittings for inlet and outlet hoses.



Dry Wall Bucket Modified
With Connector to Vacuum (Front) and Connector to Sander (Rear)


Inside of Lid with Connector to Vacuum (Left)
Connector to Sander (Right)


With Hoses Connected


The dry-wall bucket is used to keep the ‘sanding dust’ confined to the bucket by immersing the ‘sanding connector’ (shown at bottom of the photo above) in about 5” of water in the bucket. With the vacuum cleaner drawing air (along with the sanding dust), the sanding dust is ‘bubbled’ in the water, thus removing the dust before it gets to the ‘shop vac’.

 When building the ‘lid with connectors’, make the ‘sanding connector’ long enough so that it is about 4” from the bottom of the dry wall bucket.  Put about 5” or so water in the bucket to ensure the ‘sanding connector’ remains immersed in the water.


Bucket After Doing a Bit of Sanding  


The Compete Setup!


Sanding SHEARWATER’s Companionway Hatch.


We use the Shop Vac in the ‘wet’ mode (we remove the ‘dry’ bag), as occasionally the vac will ‘pick up’ a few drops of water.

 When sanding on the boat, we leave the Shop Vac outside the boat along with the short vacuum cleaner hose (the large hose) and the drywall bucket ‘bubbler’ outside of the boat (in the cockpit, or on the dock).  We use about 25’ of ‘BilgeFlex’ hose, which works well.

 In order to make it easier to turn the Shop Vac On/Off, we often use a long extension cord with an “ON/OFF’ switch located near the ‘operator’ so that the ‘operator’ can control the Shop Vac from a ‘remote’ position.

We’ve used this ‘sanding rig’ quite a bit, including preparing SHEARWATER’s bottom for ‘Barrier Coating’.  It surely keeps the…..


 Page last modified: 07/25/16