Our friend, Carl Brunson, is a master when it comes to paint and body work, so we’re always happy when he wants to share some of his “lessons” with our readers ... and with us.

"Hand Color Sanding & Buffing"    By Carl Brunson

Have you ever told someone you would do something and regretted it later?
Well, I stepped in a mess when I told someone I would color sand and polish the paint on the hood of his ‘32 coupe, without seeing it.  I should have known better.  No painter likes to sand and polish louvers.  It is going to take almost every trick in the book to make this hood look good.  So I am going to pass some of the “tricks” of color sanding by hand and buffing paint along to you guys.

cut n buff MD#1

     After seeing the hood I knew right away I was going to be re-painting it before it would be smooth enough to polish.  Louvers are double tough anytime and there was way too much orange peel texture in the paint.  I could see primer on the edges too.  I taped up the edges with 1/4-inch tape so I wouldn’t sand through to bare metal while sanding the paint smooth with P600 grit; then got my spray gun busy.

cut n buff MD#2

     After painting the hood again, I have a surface that will be level when color sanded.  I break out the 1500 grit.  If there is a lot of dirt or texture in the paint I make my first cut with 1200 grit wrapped around a Meguiar’s E-7200 foam pad and sand the 1200 grit scratches out with the 1500 grit.  Notice that I fold the sandpaper in thirds so it fits my palm better and I can keep re-folding the sandpaper to get a new surface to sand with as the sandpaper dulls.

cut n buff MD#3

     I learned the hard way that not all water is clean so I never sand from a water hose.  I fill a 5-gallon bucket with water, add a squirt of car wash soap and fill an old rubbing compound bottle from the top of the bucket.  That lets any 80-grit calcium, sand or whatever could be in the water settle to the bottom of the bucket.  This gives me clean water from a neat squirt bottle keeping the water mess somewhat controllable.  The soap not only helps lubricate the sandpaper … it helps make cleaning up any sanding sludge a breeze later.  Notice too, I am soaking the sandpaper to make the paper backing more flexible.  The sandpaper will not only last longer after soaking … I feel it cuts better and faster too.

cut n buff MD#4

     After sanding with 1500 grit, I sanded with a piece of old 3000 grit (3000 is used in the 3M machine color sanding system) to take out the 1500 grit scratches.  3000 is pricey stuff.  If you can’t bum a used piece of 3000 from a paint shop, you are stuck with using 2000 grit to get the 1500 grit scratches out.  When color sanding by hand, I try to keep my sanding direction lengthwise of the car, never up and down.  A missed 1500 scratch in a hood going lengthwise is hardly seen for some reason … while a 1500 scratch going sideways looks like the Grand Canyon.

cut n buff MD#5

     Back to the 1/4-inch tape to protect the edges.  No matter how nice and even the paint is … it only takes a millisecond for the buffer to destroy it on the edges!  Louvers have lots of edges.  Setting my buffer at about 2000 RPM I buff the easy parts first.  Then use the edge of the wool pad to pick up some compound from a glob I have poured on the hood and buff as much as I can inside the louvers.  close attention to what is happening.  That tape protecting the edges won’t last long at 2000 RPM.

cut n buff MD#6

This photo shows the direction you MUST polish all edges.  Always have the buffing pad turning off the edge and never turning in at the edge.  Remember the paint on the edge won’t last milliseconds before all the work you have done is gone and you are painting that part over.

cut n buff MD#7

One of the bad things about wool pads is that they collect compound and can scratch the paint.  Wool pads must be “raked” clean fairly often.  Lots of guys just use an old flat screwdriver to break up the clogged wool instead of the rake I use.

cut n buff MD#8

Here is the part of the job that nobody likes.  Hand rubbing urethane enamel.  There is just no way I have found to get around hand rubbing when it comes to louvers.  I used “3M Prefect It 3000” compound both machine buffing and hand rubbing.  A soft cloth … a little compound … a little pressure and when it starts to shine ease up on the pressure.  Hand rubbing hasn’t changed much since the lacquer days.  Be ready to spend quite a bit of time hand rubbing

cut n buff MD#9

After all of the rubbing is done it is time to gloss the paint up more with a foam pad and 3M foam pad glaze.  Once again … be careful on the edges and figure on destroying a foam pad.  A gentle touch with the buffer here

cut n buff MD#10

Ok!  Not too bad!  Only one more hood top and two sides to go!

cut n buff MD#11

I hope it will be a while before another louvered hood shows up around here

Back to  Paint and Body Menu

Be sure to check out Carl’s other articles

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All content in the articles in this section are the property of the author of the article and all advice and instructions are intended to be just basic guidelines for the undertaking of any project, and not intended for use by individuals who are not experienced in the particular field. We advise that you contact the manufacturer of any product or tool you are using for complete instructions. We also advise you to always use the appropriate safety equipment for the tools and products you are using. and its contributors disclaim any responsibility for the consequences of using the articles or procedures described in any of the articles in this section and by using this site you agree to these terms. No portion of any of these articles may be used without the written permission of and the Author.

Copyright 2007-2011   All Rights Reserved
No Portion may be used without our written permission
Contact Us:    877-700-2468   or   208-562-0470
230 S. Cole Rd, Boise, ID  83709