Theee Fundamentals to Buffing

 Now days, there seems to be countless new brands that offer a huge variety of buffing compounds and polishes and countless different buffing pads, and even plenty of new fancy buffers.   I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried any of them. I still use 3m extra cut compound and their polish, their black foam pad, and just a regular old wool pad, and a Makita rotary buffer.  I’m sure there’s some better products out there,  I have just never seen a need to try them, it’s never been an issue to achieve fantastic results.  

I’m a pretty firm believer that you should depend far more on your ability and skills, rather than jumping to always needing a better buffer or polish or pads, etc. 

 Obviously, the products need to be quality to begin with, the idea is to not use anything as an excuse.

 Here are three things that are crucial to achieving really great results.   This is mostly in the context of ‘high end’ paint work, where the paint is sanded completely flat, and as close to flawless is required.  I’m not talking about ‘paint correcting’ some new stock car, although I’d imagine this is still all true

  •  Lighting. This is absolutely crucial.  You have to be able to see what you are trying to buff out.  The first step with a wool pad needs to be something like fluorescent tube bulbs, and not too much of it. This allows you to see the texture and ‘grain’ in the clear, which needs to be gone with wool.  A more intense direct spot light is needed for polishing. It makes scratches really light up. You can’t see texture and grain with a spot light; and you can’t see scratches under fluorescent light. And not too much light!!
  •  Water based cleaner. Either water borne cleaner for paint prep, or rubbing alcohol. You need to be able to completely remove the compound and polish from the paint so you can actually see what the paint looks like. This needs to be done a lot during the whole buffing process; it stops you from being mislead into thinking the paint looks better than it actually does.
  •  Buff slow!!  Under 900 rpm’s. This is especially true with fresh paint, with fresh body work and primer under it.  There’s a long list of things that can happen from running the buffer too fast, including forcing sand scratches to shrink, solvent pop, die back, etc.   The less heat put into the panel the better, and the clearer the paint will end up looking.  Use the abrasive of the compound and pad to polish the paint, not speed and heat.

 These are things that are extremely important, and trump everything else.  Don’t get caught up in the endless list of new products out there.  Stick with the fundamentals, and get great results.