Once the boards have been removed from the decks, there are several operations to prepare them for rebuilding the pneumatics – this assumes you are reusing the old boards, as I did.
The old cloth must be removed from the boards. There are “dry” and “wet” options.
Dry involves using a belt sander or manual scraping. Wet involves submersing the boards in simmering water for a short time, until the glue dissolves. Still some others advocate putting the boards in a microwave oven to destroy the glue joint, without scorching the wood.
Each method has its advantages; I opted for the wet method which ensured that the cloth came off with very little manual effort and with zero loss of wood surface. The disadvantage is that this method is rather messy. A critical caveat with using water with wood boards is that the boards must be placed to dry in such a way that the air reaches as much of the surface area as possible.
If the wet boards are placed flat on one side, they will cup or warp, and potentially ruin them for reuse.
Here is what I came up with, using a kitchen grilling rack to hold the boards nearly upright so that the majority of the surface is exposed and the faces dry at an equal rate.
Once clean and dry, the boards must be repaired. In my case there were a fair subset which were cracked along the long grain when they were pried off the deck. These cracks must be repaired with glue to restore the structural integrity of the boards. It does not have to be fancy, just effective. I had a box of binder clamps on hand from the office supply store which served well.
Finally, the boards must be surfaced. Since I used the water method, everything came out rather clean in the end, however I did want to make sure the face of the stationary board was quite smooth in order to form a good joint back onto the deck. And of course the repaired boards may have had residual glue on them as well, so a very light, even and quick pass on the belt sander took care of this nicely. Don’t overdo it with the belt sander!
Once boards are all prepped, it’s time to turn them back into pneumatics!