This '62 Corvette has been...
This '62 Corvette has been meticulously repainted in a custom tangerine candy color by Brian at Corvettes and Customs, in Upland, California. The final touch will be a cut and polish job to make it flawless.
For the average paint job, the work is done once the paint guns are put away in the booth and the masking tape is pulled off. In the world of custom or show-quality paint, there is still work to do if the goal is to approach perfection. No matter how clean the paint booth might be, and no matter how skillfully the paint is sprayed, there will be flaws. If everything was done to top shelf standards, the texture will be minimal, and the paint surface will have very little contamination, but a glass-smooth surface with a mirror finish demands just that little bit more.
Here's where the cutting and buffing step comes into play. The technique is really not new. In fact, it's a form of burnishing and polishing, which has been around for centuries. What it consists of is fine-sanding the surface until it's perfectly smooth, and then using buffing techniques to polish the paint to a brilliant luster. In the world of automotive refinishing, there are special tools, techniques, and materials designed just for this purpose. A proper cut and polish job is always a part of a custom show-quality paint job.
The equipment and materials...
The equipment and materials used for cutting and polishing are unique to the job, and most technicians have their own favored variations on exact materials and tools. The basics are a paint buffer, cutting and polishing pads, cutting and polishing compounds, and very fine sandpaper, from 1200-3000 grit, depending upon the specifics of the job.
Technicians have their own favored materials and techniques, but the basic process is well established, beginning with sanding the surface. This is normally a wet-sanding process, using water to clean and lubricate the surface while it's sanded smooth. Wet-sanding is done with very fine sandpaper, with the goal of flattening the surface while removing a minimum of material. A break through the clearcoat can be disastrous while sanding, necessitating starting over and repainting the surface to repair the damage. Properly wet-sanding requires plenty of skill.
Once the sanding process is complete, the job is completed by polishing to bring the surface to a beautiful shine. Usually this is done in two steps, with a coarser cutting step to remove the sanding scratches and quickly bring the surface to a shine, followed by a polishing step to take the surface to perfection. We recently visited Corvettes and Customs in Upland, California, where Brian broke out the supplies to demonstrate how a cut and polish is done. Our subject is Rick Stoner's '62, which was recently painted by Corvettes and Customs in a House of Kolor candy.
|Difficulty Index - 3 Wrenches|
|Anyone’s Project: no tools required||1 Wrench|
|Beginner: basic tools||2 Wrenches|
|Experienced: special tools||3 Wrenches|
|Accomplished: special tools and outside help||4 Wrenches|
|Professionals Only: send this work out||5 Wrenches|
A timesaver that has become...
A timesaver that has become popular in recent years is an orbital air sander, which Brian will sometimes use instead of all hand-sanding. In the right hands, this tool produces excellent results, though beginners may be better off sticking to hand sanding pads.
The orbital air sander comes...
The orbital air sander comes with an extra-flexible backing pad, and is equipped to accept a hook and loop (Velcro) sandpaper retention system. The special fine-sanding sheets are available from 3M.
Step one is to sand the paint...
Step one is to sand the paint finish. This will cut any nubs, minor flaws, or fine orange peel from the surface, leaving it glass smooth. Brian uses a wet process, favoring a spray bottle for minimal mess.