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Paint Polishing Guide - How To Make Good Paint Great

Cut It, Sand It, Buff It, Polish It

Polish to Perfection
This is where the low-speed polishing pad comes in to gently level out the 2,000-grit scratches into a highly reflective surface. Raoul starts with a wool pad using 3M Rubbing Compound to attack the scratches. With the big scratches gone, he goes back over the same surface with a less-abrasive rubbing compound and a foam pad. Keep the polisher at low speeds using the variable-speed control on the machine. Low speed avoids putting heat into the paint. Never attempt to polish paint that has been in direct sunlight.

Raoul did all the work on this '68 Camaro hood, stopping only for quick photos. The effort for half the hood took a solid two hours, which means it would take three to four hours to cut and polish the entire hood. This is not a job that can be rushed, so plan on spending several days to cut and polish a new paint job. It's all in how you even out the scratches.

When to Sand
Santini has been painting since he was about 10 years old and as a professional since 1977, so he knows a few things about paint. He says some clears cut and polish easier than others. Some paints catalyze very quickly while others take more time. There are also windows during the curing process when it is very easy to cut and polish. Later, the paint will become very hard and difficult to work. The key is to know when to cut and when to lay off.

He also mentions that it's possible to do a great cut and polish job only to have the clearcoat shrink after it has cured. This will require an additional light sand and polish to bring back that ultimate finish. All these critical time factors are determined specifically by the paint manufacturer, which can supply a schedule of when the paint can safely be sanded and polished.

St. Paul, MNIrvine, CA
877/ 666-2277949/752-8000
Auto Body StoreMothers Polish Co
Southampton, NJHuntington Beach, CA
Classic Motoring AccessoriesSantini's Paint & Body Werkes
Tampa, FLWestminster, CA
Max ToolsSystem One Products
San Dimas, CA714/533-0802
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