Buffing to a High Gloss

Advice on a progression of fine grits and buffing compounds to achieve a glasslike glossy finish. November 15, 2011

I've been having to produce high gloss colored finishes for slab doors and shelves. Using automotive products and clear coating, I start with 240 to quickly knock off the dust nibs and then wet-sand through Abralon 4000 using an RO, finishing with two grits of 3M rubbing compound.

All very time consuming, particularly the rubbing out. My best results are using 6" H&L Bosch pads on a small Skil polisher, though it's hard on the little guy. I've a 7" Makita, but the long nap on the larger bonnets actually slows the process down, and you can't get near the edges or you'll chance busting through the clear coat. Can anyone recommend a better approach and equipment?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
I don't have a lot of experience with this, but I had good luck using a Surbuf polishing pad with a Dynabrade RO sander.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. After reading the lit, it sounds like a good tip and I've already ordered from Homestead.

From contributor D:
240 grit is way too coarse for auto clears. Most auto clear coats recommend going no lower than 600 grit. Whenever I spray auto clear coat, I usually start sanding at 800, unless there is a lot of orange peel, in which case I start at 600. Most of the leveling work is done with the first step grit. Subsequent grits are just used to remove the scratches from the previous grit, so they don't take long to do. I usually sand 800, 1000, 2000 grit, then switch to a medium compound, followed by a fine compound. I end up with a glass-smooth finish, with less risk of leaving coarse grit scratch marks or burning through the clear coat. No need to start any lower than 600 grit to get great results.

From contributor W:
The place to look is autogeek.net. They have a very wide choice of tools made specifically for polishing and buffing as well as all the pads and compounds you could possibly want. In fact I just ordered a kit from them to buff out the car I am painting. They also have a CD that shows you how to do things.