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Technical Paint: Quick guide to buffing.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by GaryC, May 22, 2007.

  1. GaryC
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Chicago, IL

    GaryC Member

    This here is the subject at hand. A '40 ford. Seen better days with the paint. Swirl marks, scratches, scrapes, nicks, etc. Unfortunately I have no 100% completed pics, but use your imagination.

    Anyway.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Subject at hand, you can tell the paint needs some love.

    Materials needed for just buffing & polishing are simple. Get yourself a rotary buffer / polisher. (if you haven't done it before, maybe stay with a PC whatever oribital buffer...don't expect it to cut like a rotary does, however it IS harder to zip through your paint with an orbital) I use a Milwaukee myself - variable speed setup. I set mine up with 3M's hookit system - works awesome. The pads & backing plate are a "velcro" like system which allows super fast pad changes and quick changes whenusing a variety of pads for different purposes, like a wool (or even a coarse foam) rough cut with rubbing compound up through a fine foam pad with the final polish & machine glaze. I do use different pads with each step, and wash my pads frequently. It helps being OCD with the stuff as far as washing / maintence is concerned.


    From there, get yourself setup with your materials of choice. Personally I use 3M's Pefect It, I've also used meguires, Finesse It from 3m, etc. and they work about the same, just I now stick with 3M exclusively. They do work differently as far as cutting and such - some work better for some people than others, personally I found 3M to work awesome with HOK's clear as well as on older lacquer jobs, which is why I like 3M, everybody likes different suppliers, use what you like / can get a hold of.

    Aside from that I like to keep at least a half dozen micro fibre towels on hand. Unfortunately I dont have pictures of all the steps at this point, apologies. I also recommend having at least one if not TWO buckets on hand with 2 sponges, a hose, and some tunes worth a shit cranking on the radio.

    Tools needed -
    [​IMG]
    Milwaukee 7/9" polisher. 0-1750 rpm.
    my weapon of choice.
    [​IMG]
    3m hook-it backing plate.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Foam polish pad.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    wool compounding pad. rough cut.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Glaze for light colors. The glaze for dark colors I don't have a pic of, but the PN on the bottle is 05996.

    I will warn you, to get yourself set up like this (and I haven't even covered the bottles of machine glaze / hand glaze) budget about $375-$400 if you buy it all new and are starting from scratch. It's not cheap, but when you use it often it pays for itself using high quality pieces.

    Step 1. Wash the vehicular implement. I use one sponge for the first wash after wetting & giving it a good blast to knock the loose crap off the car. Keep the first sponge in it's own bucket filled with soapy water. I do a first "initial" scrub down with that sponge AFTER giving it a good hose down to remove any loose crud from the top down. From there I hose it off. Then I grab my second bucket and second sponge (clean one) and wash the vehicle more thoroughly now that the chance for draging crap across the surface has been greatly reduced. yes, it's redundant and shows signs of being OCD, but such is life.

    Step 2. Dry off vehicle. I again use microfibre towels. If a towel hits the ground, throw it to the side and grab a clean one. seriously.

    Step 3. Get your wool buff out and your rubbing / machine compound. Put enough compound on the panel (dry by now) to cover about a 2' x 2' are ( I actually tend to do about a foot and a half by a foot and a half, although sometimes i'll work up to a 3' x 3'ish area). From there I like to swirl the buffer (without the pad spinning, make sure the pad is cleaned and prepped. I use a wheel sold for that purpose on wool pads. It's a little spikey looking thing that you run the buffer into while holding the tool against the spinning pad and working it back and forth. It pulls the compound in the pad out, and kinda "works" the pad in if you will as wool pads when new (even when used) should be worked in. Anyway, from there spread it across the area you will be buffing.

    Step 4. Start the bugger. I like to start slow and speed the thing up as the compound gets into the pad and spread around the panel to keep from flinging crap *everywhere*. Just my personal preference. Be careful to keep the pad flat to the surface rather than tilting the bugger at an extreme angle. That's how burns happen. burn through are *bad* mkay. Also when coming to an edge, sharp edges I'll mask off with 1/4-1/2 sometimes 3/4" masking tape. Rather not burn an edge and have to go back in and touch it up. Not good. I do sharp creases / edges by hand. It's worth the extra time. That said you can work edges a certain way.. by buffing OFF edge, NOT into. Into the edge WILL *very* quickly eat away the paint and leave you a nice burn through. not good.

    I personally start my buffer off slow and work it up to about 1500-1700 rpm with the first compound. I tend to apply light-medium pressure at first, and as the compound starts to dry (you'll be able to see it easily and if i remember i'll snap a pic of "wet" and "drying" compounds next week) I lighten up the pressure and let the buffer lightly glide across turning a higher rpm to more polish than "cut" if you will. You'll be able to see it bringing out the shine and removing the dullness of the paint, light scratches, etc. That said it WILL leave swirl marks. Relax. That's what the polish is for. It also might take you a time or two of buffing with the compound to get it to where it should be, which is a glossy finish, free of defects save for the swirl marks that chances are damn high will be there from buffing. If you wetsanded the paint, make sure the sand scratches are gone. In conclusion - buffer swirl marks = OK. Other marks - sand scratches, scratches in general, etc. = not ok.
    Once that is done wipe that area down thoroughly with a microfibre towel, also being sure to remove any compound for adjacent panels that may have found it's way onto them and check again.

    Step 5.
    I switch to a *fine*foam pad for the polish once the whole car has been buffed with the wool pad and compound. They do have rough cut foam pads.. but i like wool pads. I do the same kinda thing starting slow and working up with the rpm as it starts to dry and lighten up the pressure. you'll see it polishing out the swirl marks as you go. careful with edges again. More on this step later.

    Step 6 machine glaze - same thing as the polish procedure wise with a fine foam pad, just using machine glaze as a last step.

    [​IMG]
    note the door.

    [​IMG]
    fender compounded, polished and still needing to be hit with machine glaze and then hand glaze.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    That was only about 1/3-1/2 way through the process I go through. At that point the thing still needed the final polishing, machine glaze and hand glaze. I didnt touch the right side on purpose. It's been washed down, cleaned up, etc. but not touched with the buffer.

    I realize threads like this have probably been done, and not everybody likes shiny or should even consider getting close to their paint with a rotary buffer..but use at your own risk, and remember everybody does it differently. What works for me, you may hate / disagree with.
  2. KutThrtKustms
    Joined:
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    SO.CAL.

    KutThrtKustms BANNED

    I'm aprofessional Detailer by trade and you pretty much covered it all and hit the Nail right on the Head!
  3. guthriesmith
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    guthriesmith Member

    Agreed. I have been painting/buffing cars for about 20 years and use basically all the same methods/supplies. One more word of caution is that if someone is trying this for the first time, they might want to practice on something that doesn't really matter if they screw it up. I have seen a few paint jobs that had to be redone because of inexperienced buffers. Also, the adjustable speed buffer is a must. I use a Flex brand buffer that has 6 speeds and I can buff areas that shouldn't probably be machine buffed using low. Too high of speed or buffing onto an edge instead of off it is how paint typically gets burned off.

    Anyway, thanks for posting such a detailed explanation.
  4. SlowandLow63
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    SlowandLow63 Member

    Nice tech, covered alot of unclear subjects on rubbing. 3M Perfect IT is my choice but to each his own. They seam to be pretty close anyway. Maybe I'll try the finesse it just to be well rounded haha.
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  5. GaryC
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    Chicago, IL

    GaryC Member

    I definitely agree with your statement about starting out with a 'yard fender or piece you don't care about. It's not really an if you burn through, but a when. It happens, better to do it on a scrap piece than on your ride.

    As far as the Perfect vs Finesse it, that was my mix-up. I now use Perfect It for the polish / glazes / compound. I previously used Finesse it, but got hooked on the Perfect It system.

    I will say it's pretty funny the only people in the thread are guys that do it for a living... at least I find it fairly humorous.
  6. SlowandLow63
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    SlowandLow63 Member

    I guess its because we always want to learn more about our trade. I sure as hell do, I'm no expert.

    Either that or because we're the only ones who care about getting a good finish.
  7. GaryC
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    GaryC Member

    I agree on - both counts. I'll be the first to admit I don't know anything in the grand scheme. The day I think I know or stop learning is the last day I pick up a paint gun, long board, whatever. If you are not always learning as you go, why bother? Just my opinion but one that's shared by a few other body guys I know as well. I think you may be onto something witht he good finish... oh well. Next week I might add to it with touching on wetsanding and buffing out a new finish as I've got a '49 Ford I shot that needs it's final wetsand / buff.
  8. one37tudor
    Joined:
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    Austin, Texas

    one37tudor Member

    One question - I have a black car that has been repainted sometime in the past and will need to be repainted again when the money is there. But. for now I would just like to make it look some better and was planning to wet sand with 1500 then 2500 paper then follow about what you outlined from there. So, to my question, are there different procedures used for different types of paint? I have no idea what this paint is but suspect it is a single stage type paint.

    Thanks, and good post.

    Scott...
  9. GaryC
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    GaryC Member

    Is it a metallic or a pearl? If so I would hesitate to wet sand it - personally.

    Aside from that on a solid color, I would gently knock it down with 1500 , then even 2000 or 2500 (2500 will buff easier than 2K, but usually I personally stop with 2K, though sometimes hitting the entire surface with 3K on a DA with a 'softpad does happen, makes buffing it go like a hot knife through butter, the paper is expensive though!). If you are doing it wet use a few drops of dish wash detergent in your bucket and use a new sponge to keep the area and paper wet to prevent clogging after washing the vehicle. Once that's done clean the vehicle off completely, dry it and then buff it out as normal. The difference is a single stage will leave color on your pad (you'll know right away when you sand, take a swipe with your paper dry, if it's black - it's a single stage, if it's white it's a base / clear system). Buff as usual! Use a *dark* polish formula after you compound it, as black is a pain in the butt to get swirl free, but when you do it's definitely worth it! The dark polishes are a finer grit IIRC compared to the "light color" polish. From there if it's not new paint I'd personally topcoat it using S100 and a few new clean microfibre towels. S100 doesn't have excellent holdout, but leaves a killer really deep finish, and it's stupid easy to apply! Don't even have to wait for it to haze and kill yourself 'buffing' it off! Wipe it on, let it sit a bit and buff it out. Easy as pie - and it's like $16 for a decent sized tub at most motorcycle shops (same thing as P21S IIRC, but cheaper).
    That how I would personally do it, these other guys may have different advice.. that's the strange thing about paint/body. Everybody does it different. Hope that helps and best of luck! Remeber - stay away from the edges, personally if you haven't done it before I'd recommend taping them off and not even sanding your edges, just lightly hit 'em if they are bad, otherwise just hand compound / polish them - if needed.
  10. AHotRod
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    AHotRod Member

    Beautiful results, excellant tech post.
  11. Stude-sled
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    WILLARD MO.

    Stude-sled Member

    3-M has a new final glaze called ultra -finna, best final glaze that I've used. You use it as you would any other glaze, but this has it's own blue 3-M foam pad, and micro fibre towels. Buff but don't take it all off the car, leave it a little wet and use the micro fiber towels to finish with. You'll love the look.
  12. PinHead
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    PinHead Member

    Good post, pretty much everything was the same that we learned in my Autobody class. We used both Meguire's and 3M but i preferred the 3M, as well. The Meguire's stuff has that cool "break down" feature that causes it to become finer and finer as you work it, so it leaves alot less swirl marks, but the problem we had is that it broke down too fast, so it wasn't taking out all of the sanding scratches. Works very well for a general buffing job that hasn't been wet-sanded, though.

    One thing I want to ask about, that you didn't include, is whether you wash the car between coarse/fine compounds? I've seen several people who recommend this, to keep from contaminating their fine pads with the coarser compounds.
  13. SlowandLow63
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    SlowandLow63 Member

    I wash very often and always between changing products. It helps me to see the "damage" I've done, not that I'm damaging it at all. But you know what I mean. Not only does it keep you from contaminating your pads, but it helps you to see your problem areas, or areas that need more attention. Almost like wiping the slate clean.
  14. SinisterCustom
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    SinisterCustom Member

    Good tech....
    Quick question guys.....how soon after a fresh clearcoat paintjob can I start polishing???
  15. Stude-sled
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    Stude-sled Member

    All paints and clear have different cure times. I have some clears that can be buffef in less than an hour, and some I wait at least 24 hours. The longer you can wait to buff the better the result, less dieback etc. but the longer you wait the harder it is to buff. As the clear cures it becomes harder and harder to buff, but the final result is worth it. When I do collision work I always buff as sone as poss., but on custom stuff I always wait.
  16. Turbo26T
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    Turbo26T Member

    I have heard that the 3M Perfectit system was pricey but worth it...I'm prepared to pony up for the system ,however ,the only autobody supply house in town is run by a little prick & his equally a..hole mother...Not only do you have to endure their bulls..t ,they then charge way over list ...So, is there an online site that sells 3M at a decent price ?..We're 35 clicks from a large town & with $3.00/gal gas ,the Brown Truck shipping is a bargain..
    Stan
  17. SlowandLow63
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    SlowandLow63 Member

    Check autobodydepot.com and ebay. Both have the kits you speak of. Autobodydepot is about the cheapest, but I'm not sure if eBay can beat it. They are def on eBay as wel though.

    Ditto for that, I try to wait at least a week on custom stuff as long as I have the time and the space. I'd rather not talk about collision work...

    Just like Stude said, everything is different, check the tech sheets on the type of clear you used, it'll tell ya everything you need to know. Recoat times, sand times, buff times, everything.
  18. ricknroll
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    ricknroll Member

    I'd have to second the "Longer You Wait" theory.
    I'm finishing up a resto on a Bimmer that I've had to repaint a few spots from burning though with the buffer.
    Also to note: Its single stage black so when you're though, you're screwed. No warning like with a BC/CC.
    The guy at the paint shop said 24 hours max for sanding and buffing. But I've seen better results the longer I wait. I'd say wait time is even more critical with a single stage system, as there is no room for error if you accidentally sand or buff through it.

    Great tech!
  19. 39 lives
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    39 lives Member

    This really is a good tech. I've heard from different detailers that I've worked with, in the past, that there is actually about 6 or 7 steps to a complete buff/polish/ wax job. In my experiences of working in collision shops, alot of guys just use 2 or 3 of these steps. I suppose it's to get 'em out the door. But I've never really gotten the opportunity to learn all of the correct steps, from cutting w/ wool pad & compound to final glaze to hand wax.
    This thread helps a little & hopefully will finish up on the last installment, if there is one.
    Everything I shoot now is BC/CC, with the exception of a SS blend every so often, so I would like to know exactly how to make it the best as possible. I'll be keeping up with it.
    Thanks for an awesome tech.
  20. 39 lives
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    39 lives Member

    BTW, now that I work in a great Hot Rod shop, I would most definitely like to put the best of the best on every finish that leaves here.
    And, the Perfect-It system is the one to go with. Along with the clean pads, micro-fibre towels & the seperate wash buckets/wash mits.

    Once more, great tech.

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