We recently had a tour guest ask, “How does Van Dam get the finish so mirror like?” Trevor, our Paint Shop Foreman stated, “It all starts with the fairing process.” There is a reason this process is done so thoroughly and the trained eye is the most important tool in the process.
What is Fair?
So now you are going to ask me to define fairing…. well, this can be rather difficult to do. Fairing is a very subjective term, but it basically means that you are making a curved surface smooth. It is the method of freeing curves from lumps and flat spots in all directions. It is the process of making the hull the true, designed shape.
How to Fair?
The next question is how do you make the hull fair? There are many methods one uses to get the desired results. The first step would be to make sure you have an experienced craftsman nearby. It takes time, patience and lots of practice to get an end product that is perfect. The process of sanding is a tedious one and one that must be done correctly.
Most start out with the use of planes. This tool is only one of many used however. There are various sizes of sanding boards used as well, all the way up to a two man long board! Plus we use a 5 step fairing method that gradually works its way up in grit with the sand paper getting finer and finer.
Alright, so how do you measure fairness since it is a subjective term? One of the smartest ways is by using the batten. When the batten is bent around the surface, it will point out where there is any discrepancy, allowing you to see the “wiggles” in the surface. When you can no longer see the “wiggles” you have a pretty fair surface.
Fairing is done throughout the building process, although it may not be done to the same extreme as the final layer. Prior to planking the frames are lightly faired. Once the stringers are placed in they act as guides to get flawless bevels from frame to frame. Corrections can be made to any high stringer or frame by planing it away until it fairs with the others. This allows the planks to lie across the frame evenly. In between each layer of planking the surface is lightly faired.
At Van Dam we have perfected the art of fairing. This allows the paint and varnish to be applied with that well-known mirror like result, showing perfect reflections in every direction.