The Foundational Four
Mineral Spirits. Good for thinning varnish and enamels, cleaning brushes, wiping up stray polyurethane sealants, and general cleanup.
Xylene. Reduces most topside paints, bottom paint, removes smudges, and is just the thing for removing fender and black heel marks from the topsides and deck.
Acetone. Nothing dries faster, works well with polyester resins.
Vinegar. Don’t use epoxy without it. This is very effective at cleaning up tools and skin. It may take few minutes of soaking to soften the epoxy so it can be cleaned away with scrubbing.
Paint and Solvent Storage
We recently revisited the topic of solvents in search for substitutes to brand name solvents that manufacturers insist to be used with their coatings. As a result of that test, we wound up with more solvents than we’d normally have on hand and a storage problem. A familiar problem, no doubt.
The typical sailor’s garage would give an inspector from the local fire department plenty to recommend. An officer from OSHA (Occupational and Safety Hazards Administration) would also have an ample input of admonishing words . Cans are spread around on open shelving, where they can fall off and spill, are vulnerable to sparks, and can turn a small fire into something deadly in minutes. Clean this mess up.
The expensive solution is an explosion-proof cabinet of the sort required in industry. The price tag will make you faint on the spot. However, any sort of enclosed metal cabinet with a door that latches and a floor that contain some spillage addresses many of our concerns.
The cans cannot fall out and spill, they are protected from sparks, and should a small fire start, it will buy you time to either put the fire out or get out of Dodge, without exploding solvent cans adding to the danger.