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Old 11-22-2004, 07:07 PM   #1
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sanding for Monokote

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hey guys,

I'm trying to get the best ever monokote finish on my new plane. No switch to utrakote type stuff please

What grade do you usually sand the wood down to, to get that mirror glass look?

I was told by a pro carden builder once in Toledo tthat he only sands to 220 grit, then mists on a coat of hairspray to get a perfect finish.

So, what's your secret?

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Old 11-22-2004, 07:49 PM   #2
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Its a fact that the better you sand a surface, the better the covering will stick. I do my sanding jobs in little steps. Start off with a course, 80 - 100 sandpaper to get rid of any bumps and surface defects, using a filling compound for large scratches and dents if necessary.

My second sanding is at 120 Grit. Sand lightly so as not to cause more scratches than your trying to get out. Then I step to 220 - 320 - 400 for a final polishing. It may seem like a lot of work but the results speak for themselves. Be sure to use a tac cloth or any soft cloth to wipe off the dust between steps.

Take a couple of pieces of balsa and do a quick test. Sand both pieces to 220. Set one piece aside and sand the other up to 400 in the steps shown above and check the results of the 400 vs the 220 and see the difference. The 400 grit sanded piece will look and feel like glass!

Make sure your surfaces are completely wiped clean before you start covering. Its amazing how even a small speck of dust will show up under the covering! Use a good quality sock on your covering iron and take your time to seal all the edges and use a heat gun and a soft glove to go over the whole area of the covering, heating and wiping down with the glove.

You'll amaze yourself at how nice the covering will be when your finished!

Oh, and I don't use ordinary sandpaper. I use the black paper that has a sort of cloth material imbedded into it. It works the best! Does not tear easily and conforms better to curves and such!
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Old 11-23-2004, 03:19 AM   #3
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Gary has a lot of useful information there.

Sometimes I will use my sealing iron and a wet papertowel to steam out some of the dings and dents. ( this won't work for any gouges) It is surprising what you can remove doing this.

My method:
I start with 150 grit, then vacuum and then spackle any low spots. 150grit again, vacuum and then final sand with 320grit. Everything is gone over with the vacuum and then tacked clothed to remove any specks that the vacuum missed.
You might want to hold the tack cloth in a sandwich bag while using it as the sticky substance on the cloth will get on your hand and you can't wash it off. You will end up having to wear it off and stick to everything while you wait.
I think 80-100 grit is a little too course for balsa wood unless Gary is using it to take off massive amounts of wood as when you are shaping balsa blocks to a contoured surface.


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Old 11-23-2004, 06:47 AM   #4
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I sand the structure basically the same as Gary but I also use my compressor on low about 30 psi before using a tack cloth. I always have problems with the small nooks and crannys that have some residue left that come loose just when you don't want it. Also before you start covering and after sanding do a good cleanup and wipe down your table with a damp cloth to keep the dust off. I also have to turn off my overhead furnace in the garage for the same reason.
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Old 11-23-2004, 07:42 AM   #5
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What I usually do is start with 80- 120 grit to get the major () imperfections off the surface. Then I move up to a 220 grit sandpaper to get a nice smooth surface.

The finishing step is the most important, so I start with a 400 grit sandpaper. After I like the result, I take my shop vac with the brush attachment and clean the surface. After this, I use my blue shop towels to take off any remaining dust. I stopped using a tack cloth because I didn't really like the waxy surface it had. I'm sure that doesn't matter though.

I usually end right there, but lately I have been sanding down to 600 grit. It may not seem like it makes a difference, but the finish after that is spectacular. Once that sanding period is done, I repeat the cleaning method mentioned above.

Do whatever works for you. These guys have a lot of experience so I will probably try using some of their suggestions too!
Brandon Webber
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Old 11-24-2004, 03:20 AM   #6
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I have a question. I happen to look at the instructions for using Ultracote covering today and noticed they suggest a pro tip called "raising the grain".
I was wondering if anyone does this?

It involves after finishing sanding with 320-400 grit paper you use a damp cloth to wipe down the model or use a fine mist squirt bottle to dampen the surfaces to be covered. As the surface dries, imbedded wood fibers stand up and when completely dry you sand the surface again with 320-400 grit. This prevents the fibers from raising up after the covering is on and creating a bumpy finish.


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Old 11-24-2004, 10:47 AM   #7
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Gee, if I did all the above, I would never fly anything. I would be too afraid of the inevitable to take the planes to the field.

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Old 11-24-2004, 12:47 PM   #8
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In My Control Line days we used to seal the balsa surface using a mixture of buytrate dope and talcum powder. If you wanted to help cancel out the dope smell you could use scented baby powder but that cost more.

The consistancy of the mixture should be such that you can brush it on and it flows out a bit. It should not be like paste. Course this is going to add some weight. We did this on the bare balsa and silkspan area as well.

Gary, I believe the sandpaper you are talking about is the wet/dry type that will not breakdown when wet. Yes it is more durable and I find that the silicate tends to sty more on the cloth then end up inbeded i your balsa.
Jim Daly
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