I had one summer stint as an interior house painter. I lasted about a month - the job was done on a piecework basis and if you couldn't beat the boss's low ball estimate, you couldn't make money. It was the start of the summer painting season, and to get jobs, the boss gave really LOW quotes to homeowners. I didn't make much money but I did learn a lot about painting quickly.
But this post isn't really about painting - it's mostly about the prep work. Boats are much harder to paint than a house. If you're painting the inside there's wood trim everywhere or very tight spots and odd angles or funny bits of hardware you have to mask off. You (or people who visit your boat) are also likely to be a lot closer to the painted surface than the inside of a house. And you probably are using gloss paint or varnish because it's more scrubbable. So flaws are more readily apparent.
The truism in painting is that prep work is 90% of the job. It doesn't quite take 90% of the time but tge importance is quite true. So here a few thoughts from somebody who has painted more than his fair share of this boat and our last one. Neither boat was a production boat with a molded fiberglass liner. So interior bulkheads and cabinetry were mostly varnished wood (last boat) or painted (this boat).
A lot of the prep work is cleaning the surface before the paint is applied. I often start with spraying the surfaces with an all purpose cleaner and wipe it down well with lots of rags. I'm trying to get off dirt, mold, kitchen grease, and dust. Then I sand to roughen up the surface so the paint will stick better.
We have 3 sanders and an angle grinder on Ceilydh and they all serve different purposes.
#2: The Beast
#3: The Present
The red one with triangular pad. This was a present (I can't recall if it was birthday or Christmas) When we were living in Annapolis on our last boat Di did a bit of ahem casual work, varnishing on other boats. Varnishing always means sanding, and this little Milwaukee detail sander is great on trim and in tight corners. It's about 90% as good a sander as the Fein multitool without the cost or versatility of the Fein. It's a 'nice to have' sander but unless you own a Taiwanese made teak forest interior it may not be required. Unlike the Fein you can also hook it up to a vacuum.
#4 Angle Grinder
Power tools - final thoughts
The tool companies are now making special "big box store edition tools". They look like the regular models but are often cheaper (both in terms of price and what is on the inside). Check the model numbers on the internet and maybe buy from specialist online tool stores. I tend to buy 'contractor grade tools'. They last forever if treated well. I won't buy Ryobi or Black and Decker or Sears. Don't buy 1/4 sheet sanders. They do a good job of vibrating your hand but are seldom useful for decent production. Buy corded tools, not cordless. While a bit more inconvenient to find an extension cord I'm never stopped in a project with a flat battery. The batteries do die and are costly over the life of the tool. Just make sure you have an extension cord that will reach the top of the mast so you can drill that hole up there. You're going to need a long extension cord in whatever boatyard you end up in someday anyway.
Questions or comments as always are welcome.