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 sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. Darrell is booking speaking engagements in Colorado, Idaho, California, the Pacific Northwest, and British Colombia this summer. You can reach him by email at practicalsailor@belvoir.com.