Building a Fishing Kayak Cooler #12: Sanding and Painting the Cooler

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by DustyMark posted 05-09-2019 03:13 PM 743 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Fitting the Lid Part 12 of Building a Fishing Kayak Cooler series Part 13: Done! »

How Picky?

I’m in the home stretch of the cooler project. I’ve heard that in a quality woodworking project, about a third of the project’s hours are spent on sanding and finishing. Each project warrants a quick analysis of “how good is good enough?” Do you want to simply protect the project from the elements, or do you want it to look “amazing” also? I have quality levels that I refer to as 1’, 5’, or 10’. What distance do I want it to look good at? The epoxy is subject to deterioration from UV light exposure, so it needs to be painted, but I’m okay with it only looking good from 5’.


This is where the 5’ decision comes into play. If I was going for 1’ quality, I’d sand the cooler thoroughly after the second coat of epoxy and then apply a third coat to fill cosmetic defects. The problem with that is that you’ll often sand through the epoxy into bare wood and have to do yet another coat in that area. It’s like a dog chasing its tail!

Using a Mirka sander with an Abranet 220-grit disc to smooth out the epoxy. It doesn’t level out as well as paint, so there’s a lot of sanding to level things out.

The area around the fiberglass tape should be tapered, hopefully without sanding through the adjacent epoxy over bare wood. You can see the streaks left from the squeegee strokes as I had leveled the epoxy during application.

It takes a very slow speed and a light touch to avoid sanding through on the corners and edges. You can always add a spot of epoxy to an area you choked on…

This tape area is almost complete.

With sanding complete, tape up the weather seal.

NOTE: The paint requires scuff sanding between coats with 320-grit sandpaper.


I had materials left over from previous projects paint the cooler.

Interlux Brightsides is a great topsides marine paint. It’s not meant for constant submersion though. At $45/quart, they don’t give it away. This was left from touching up my ski boat before selling it a few years ago. I painted the bottom of the cooler first to make sure it cured…it did.

3-year old paint required straining.

I consistently use enough nasty solvents, that I wear an organic vapor cartridge respirator. No use killing brain cells!

I used to buy special rollers from marine sources, but these high density rollers from Menards work great.

This is the coverage of the bottom after one coat of paint. I made a mistake in using a tack cloth and I think the streaks are where some of its residue might have interfered with the paint…that’s my theory anyways. The second coat covered these areas well.

Roll it on. You could brush it on, but you’ll achieve more even coverage by applying Brightsides with a roller and then tipping it off with a foam brush. This is the second coat applied to the bottom. Two or three thin coats are best. You’ve got to experiment to determine what “thin” is. Adding a very small amount of thinner to the paint will help level it out and sometimes minimizes the bubbles that inevitably form.

Air bubbles after rolling.

Tipping off the bubbles with a high density foam brush from the hardware store.

After tipping out. The brush strokes will level out as the paint cures. I achieved adequate coverage on the second coat of the bottom. This section is done as I choose not to “chase my tail.” Remember the 5’ standard?

The sides/top of the cooler and the lid need a second coat of paint. (Cool! The kayak I built my wife last year photo-bombed me…)

Final Steps

1. Apply second coat of paint.
2. Re-install hardware.
3. Fill the cooler with northern pike!

-- Mark, Minnesota

2 comments so far

View dkgrim's profile


9 posts in 3003 days

#1 posted 05-09-2019 08:09 PM

What’ll ya do if you catch a Muskie?

View DustyMark's profile


508 posts in 3154 days

#2 posted 05-10-2019 07:17 AM

Release it! I’ve got a usable 30” length and I’ll be quite lucky to catch anything over that. Opener this weekend!

-- Mark, Minnesota

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics