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1967 Chevrolet Camaro Paint Detail - Scuffin' And Buffin'
Follow Along As We Detail The Right Way To Cut And Buff Paint To Perfection
Feb 17, 2009
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Best of Show Coachworks
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1967 Chevrolet Camaro Paint Detail - Scuffin' And Buffin'
To get the job done right you need the right materials. What you see here is far more than enough to do a Camaro. Between buffing pads, compounds, and papers, you can expect to use up to about 200 bucks in materials, give or take. For this ’67s cut and polish, we decided to use Meguiar’s line of professional-grade materials.
Jon Lindstrom has been doing this a long time and over the years he’s picked up quite a few tricks. When cutting down over graphics, like these stripes, he uses a different technique compared to regular panels. As Jon told us, “Charlie Hutton, of Foose and Coddington fame, stopped by the shop and said that we should start with a coarser paper and a harder block to knock down the areas over graphics.” This is because, with today’s high-solids clears, a soft pad will just float over the bumps rather than knocking them down. Depending on the condition of the paint, Jon starts with either 400 or 600-grit paper. In this case he chose 600-grit.
The 600-grit paper is wrapped around this 3M rubber squeegee. Jon has found that it’s hard enough to knock down edges yet flexible enough to conform to the contours of the car. Also key to this process is water, lots of water. Jon ads a bit of Ivory dish soap to the water and lets the paper soak for a bit to get soft. The soap helps the paper slide against the paint and Jon has found the Ivory, over other brands, is easier on his hands.
Here’s the result after a little bit of work. If you look close you will notice shiny areas adjacent to the white stripe. These are “valleys” in the paint and the goal is to sand until those areas become level with the rest of the clear.
This is what we’re trying to get rid of, the infamous orange peel. How much you have determines which grit of paper you should start with. Jon never starts with anything more aggressive than 400-grit paper. The idea is to replace the coarse scratches from leveling the paint’s surface with finer and finer scratches that can eventually be hidden with polish. It’s a tedious time-consuming process, but the results are well worth the extra effort.
After some time with 600-grit and the 3M hard pad, it’s pretty easy to see how the finish is going from lumpy to smooth. Soon that orange peel will be a distant memory.
At this point the fender is done with 600-grit and Jon can move to 1200-grit. You can also see that Jon was careful not to sand the sharp edge on the top of the fender. Areas like this can easily be “burned through” and require extra diligence and care. Some guys use pin striping tape to protect edges like this from being accidentally hit with the sanding block, but Jon is skilled enough to know how to stay away from it.
Jon then continues with the 1200-grit paper and a slightly softer pad, this time from Meguiar’s. Did we mention that water is the key? If you’re wondering about the green tape on Jon’s thumb and pinky, that’s another tip that came from Hutton. It keeps Jon’s digits from being worn though as he often spends eight to ten hours-a-day sanding and polishing.
It’s finally time to address that edge. For this Jon uses 1000-grit Meguiar’s Unigrit paper. No pad; just his hand and lots of slightly-soapy water. Patience and care are key since horizontal ridges like this typically have a bit less clear on them compared to larger surfaces.
Jon then goes at the panel with 2000-grit paper and a soft foam pad. He really likes the properties of the Meguiar’s. Its uniform grit doesn’t load up quickly, which means it lasts as well as performs. Jon also feels that cheap paper doesn’t pay off in the long run. He had used this Nikken silicon-carbide paper years ago, but it became impossible to find. He was very happy when it turned up under the Meguiar’s label.
Once the panel’s been gone over with the 2000-grit, Jon gets busy with 3000-grit paper and no pad. While some shops stop at 2000 and start with the buffer, Jon feels going the extra step with the 3000 pays off big in the final finish. After all, his shop is called “Best Of Show” not “Second Best Of Show”.
It’s hard to see, but this is how the panel should look when done. Notice the cross-hatched pattern of the sanding marks. With this done it’s time to move on to some fun with power tools.
The orange peel is history. Now the challenge is to remove the fine scratch-marks left by the sandpaper.
First up is a 100-percent wool eight-inch cutting pad from Meguiar’s. The compound used here is Meguiar’s Ultra-Cut. It’s designed to remove scratches from 1200-grit and finer. The key is not to overload the pad with compound, and to be careful not to burn through the paint with the wool pad. Speed comes with practice, so if you’re new to this, Jon suggests you go slow and get a feel for the process.
The scratches are gone, but they’ve been replaced by even finer swirls. To get rid of these, Jon switches to a Meguiar’s Soft-Buff eight-inch polishing pad and their professional Swirl-Free polish.
Lastly, Jon cleans the panel with Meguiar’s Final-Inspection spray detailer. This cleans the panel, but it doesn’t leave behind any residues so that he can look for any missed areas.
Compare this shot to the earlier one, before Jon started buffing, and you can see that the difference is downright amazing. When you think of the work required on this one section, and then apply that to the entire car, it’s easy to see how a high-end, show-quality job can take well over 40 hours to do right.
Here’s the stash of a guy that’s been doing this for a very long time. Over the years Jon has collected a menagerie of various pads, blocks, and widgets for getting painted surfaces just right. We found sections of radiator hose, metal tubes, and even blocks of wood. There was even a small block of aluminum that Jon says is perfect for sanding out runs.
here is a good look at the before…
…and-after example of the big payoff from doing a proper cut and buff on a car.
Sometimes the larger eight-inch wool pads are just too big to get into the smaller areas around the car. In those cases Jon breaks out this mini wool pad. In areas that are even too tight for this Jon has to finesse the finish by hand.
Jon also has quite a collection of blocks for sanding different shapes and curvatures. This block turned out to be perfect for working over the SS scoop on Tommy’s Camaro. Jon says that some shapes and curves can be challenging, but getting difficult areas done right is one reason he likes the process so much.
When Jon can’t find just the right block he falls back to the flexible pads like the ones shown earlier in the process. Again, extra care is taken with the sharp edges since burning through the clear would mean having to re-paint the hood.
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