Power Tools for Restoring Gelcoat

Inexpensive polisher waxes the Waxmaster.


In our test of acrylic-type gelcoat restorers, we polished one panel on a 1972 Oday Javelin with 3M Finesse-It II and waxed it.

Practical Sailor has long prescribed Finesse-It II ($20)for polishing, and the final gloss matched the panel with the best acrylic “miracle cure.”

Waxmaster Power Tool

We also tried various polishing tools fitted with wool buffing pads: the Waxmaster ($30), the drill-mounted 3M Superbuff wheel ($17); and a 7-inch variable-speed polisher from Chicago Electric ($30).

The anemic Waxmaster was a waste of money for this job. The 3M Superbuff worked, but the drill didnt like continuous-duty use. Although its no match for a pro-grade dual-action polisher, the Chicago Electric polisher (made in China) is a bargain for this work. Just be careful not to remove too much gelcoat. For more gelcoat maintenance tips, see “Offshore Log: Gelcoat Maintenance,” at Practical Sailor.

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Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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