You’ve spent months working over your sheetmetal until it was razor straight. Countless hours were spent getting every gap and detail just right in preparation for paint. But once the paint is laid down another step is required to get the big payoff from all your hard work: the cut and buff.
The cut and buff procedure, also known as color sanding and buffing, is the key to turning an average paintjob into a showstopping, winning work of art. A talented painter can lay down the paint nice enough to please many people, but to get that mile-deep mirror finish requires more work.
Color sanding, if done correctly, can turn a good paintjob into an amazing one. The idea is to smooth out the tiny waves and bumps in the clearcoat (commonly referred to as orange peel) and get rid of minute imperfections in the finish. Very specialized high-grit papers are used that range from 400 all the way to superfine 3,000-grit varieties.
This is definitely an area where “practice makes perfect”, and if you’re new to this then you might want to spray a few test panels to practice on first. For some professional guidance on how to do this we cruised over to Best of Show Coach Works in Escondido, California, to watch Jon Lindstrom work over Dick Kvamme’s freshly painted ’61 Corvette. Lindstrom’s been doing this since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and he’s learned what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, he has a keen eye and the patience it takes to spend 40, 50, 60, or more hours to create a show-winning finish.