Before you build your fairing boards, let’s cover what it means to make something fair. Fair means to be free from blemish, imperfection, or anything that impairs the appearance, quality, or character. For example, “My wife is beautiful and her skin is fair, without blemish.” (That should score me some points!).
Don’t confuse smoothness with fairness. A door ding in the side of a car might be smooth, but the door would not be fair. The dent is still in the metal even if it’s smooth. Stucco on the side of a building can be fair, because the brick underneath is uniform, but the stucco itself is still rough. Fairness is just one of many characteristics of your boat’s hull. From a distance, something that isn’t fair is easy to notice.
Step 1. Start by gathering all of your supplies. How much plywood you’ll need is determined by the quantity and size of the boards your building. I cut my boards out of scrap marine plywood I had left over from my bulkheads and hull. You can also make the handles out of scrap pine.
In addition to the wood, pick up sandpaper and spray adhesive. Use 4 inch belt sanding paper in either 24 inch or 36 inch lengths (the length of your fairing boards determines which belt length to purchase) Pick up the grit that’s best for your application. Click these links, sandpaper and spray adhesive, to order what you’ll need and to read reviews of both of these products.
2. Using your table saw, cut your fairing boards out of plywood. I built three fairing boards, each with a different length and thickness. The first board was ½ inch thick by 24 inches long. The second, ½ inch thick by 30 inches long, and the third was ¼ inch by 32 long. The thinner ¼ inch board flexes well for the curved areas of the hull, and the ½ inch is more rigid for the flatter areas. All three fairing boards are 4 inches wide.
If you don’t have a table saw, there are several good ones on the market. I’ve used Jet, Delta and Powermatic and found all there to work great. The Powermatic is what’s in my garage now. It was a gift from my father. If you need a good table saw, or want to read some reviews, visit this link.
3. Make your handles. I used some scrap pieces of 2×6 pine that I had left over from my boat stand. I found that handles cut to 5 ¼ inches in length, 2 inches in height and 1 ½ inches wide to be comfortable in your hand – especially when the edges are finished with a ½ inch round over bit. I made these cuts with my table saw. But you can use a miter saw as well. I have a Dewalt 12″ Compound Miter Saw with a laser. It’s a beast.
4. Glue your handles to the boards. I glued three handles to each of the longer fairing boards and two handles to the shorter one. Both outside handles on each board were glued at an angle that was comfortable for my hands. I glued the center handles in the middle (length wise) of the stiffer ½ inch boards to make them even stiffer. For the ¼ inch board I glued in the handle perpendicular to the board to maintain the boards flex. Don’t worry if the handles hang over the edges of the boards, just glue them where it’s comfortable for you hands to grip the handles.
5. Apply your sandpaper. After cutting your sandpaper to the right length, lay it upside down on a drop cloth or a large piece of paper. Set the fairing board, with the bottom facing up, next to the sand paper. Apply spray adhesive to both surfaces and press the paper onto the fairing board. Trim any excess paper and your done.
You can change out your sandpaper grit for each application. When you’re ready to change grits, the sand paper should come off pretty easily. Or, now that you know how to make fairing boards, you can make a handful with various grits and flexes.
Fairing boards come in handy for more than just the fairing process. By using just the corner of a fairing board, you can apply a lot of pressure onto a small area that needs some sanding. Flip one over on its back and use it as a stationary sanding block. I leave mine resting around the boat and am always finding some edge or surface that needs to be sanded. Plan to make more than one, and leave them lying around your shop.
To order spray adhesive click here.
To order sandpaper click here.