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Bernard Kron

Getting rid of the haze after using polishing cloths

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I've just revived an old project and I'm basing it on doing as near flawless a paint job as I can muster. As part of the challenge I've decided to do it in jet black. The good news is so far everything is working out. I'm using the approach used by my friend Raul Perez which has produced some superb results. Raul wet sands between coats, starting with 400 grit at the primer and initial color coat stages, then working his way up to 2000 grit as he adds color and clear coats. He lets the paint cure thoroughly between wet sandings, generally for several days between coats. Then at the end, depending on the result, he may skip a final pass with polishing cloths if his clear coats are smooth enough. I've done the primer, color and clear coats and everything is pretty smooth, but there is the slightest bit of waviness or micro-orange peal, too minor to show up in photographs, but visible to my eye when the surfaces are viewed at an angle to the light source.

My question is this: If I use polishing cloths. 3200 through 12000 grit, it will get rid of any final irregularities, but it will leave a slight haziness. Is there a way to restore the final deep gloss, for example with liquid polishes? Or am I better off leaving the freshly applied clear coat gloss in your opinion?

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The only solution I have found is to do a final, flawless clear coat. Going to 12,000 will give you a flat flawless surface but it will  unfortunately have that apparent haze. Shoot your clear over that 12,000. Compounds or polish, even cornstarch will only reintroduce 'scratches' in the surface. The trick is to shoot that perfect, medium to wet last clear coat. I like Testors Wet Look  lacquer clear for that. It also makes the color more vivid than the hazed last sanding.

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I'm not understanding exactly what you're referring to as "polishing cloths".

EDIT: OK. A product I haven't used, but everything that follows is 100% pertinent.

Final color-sanding runs up through 12.000 grit sandpaper, or abrasive-coated foam pads (or "cloths") used wet. Put a couple of drops of dishwashing detergent in your water to enhance 'wetting' and help keep the paper clear from 'loading up' with sanding residue. Rinse frequently, and change your water every time you change sanding grits.

After that, an abrasive polish is used to remove the remainder of the sanding scratches, which at 12.000, will appear as a slight "haze".

If you polish correctly, the haze will all but disappear completely.

If you still have a "haze" after sanding and polishing, you simply haven't done enough work.

Anything still just barely noticeable on very careful inspection can be removed with either a finer grit polish, or for show-quality work, a "filling glaze".

This is the procedure on real cars as well as models.

NOTE: Many modelers and real-car painters seem to think that a quick rub with the abrasive of choice is somehow magically going to do the trick. It won't. Color-sanding and polishing is a royal PITA, especially on little models where you're trying to flatten orange peel and not go through thin paint on ridges and high spots. Each successive grit HAS TO REMOVE THE SCRATCHES LEFT BY THE PREVIOUS GRIT ENTIRELY, and this can be hard to see. But if you don't get rid of the previous sanding scratches, you're just wasting your time.

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Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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MicroMesh makes those cloths in grits to 12.000 and they are literally cloths not paper-backed grit such as normal Wet or Dry papers. Used wet with Dawn they are excellent.

I agree with everything that Bill says as he does this professionally and has for decades. I too have done what he describes on 1:1 custom paint. But I have found that in model work, my outlined system works best for me. 3M Finesse-it and Perfect-it have been more problematic for me (on models) than a final clear coat - on lacquer and in 1/8 scale as shown. But they are excellent in 1:1 use with the proper preparatory color sanding work.

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I've simply never been able to achieve a mirror gloss, haze-free, without polishing AFTER going to the 12,000 grit...whatever said grit is attached to...paper, foam pad, or cloth.

The grit of liquid abrasive polish is much finer than even 12,000.

One thing that's imperative when trying to get that scratch-free, haze-free shine is to use a very soft cloth to rub your polish (we're talking models here...I machine polish real cars, but the mechanics of the process are the same), and turn it frequently to keep a clean surface towards the work. Polish buildup on the cloth will result in diminished cutting action, and can make it impossible to "bring the gloss all the way up". Sometimes you have to rub pretty hard and long too, and this can be scary if your paint film is as thin as it is on a model.

I've tried a lot of things, and to date, the fuzzy side of old-school sweatshirts works best (it's also superior for polishing Testors "metalizers").

I simply cannot imaging trying to get a final gloss just by spraying a "perfect" clear coat, and I'm somewhat envious of anyone who is capable of doing so.

In close to 50 years now of polishing paint, sometimes to world-class show levels, any difficulty I've had achieving a hard, no-haze gloss has been traced every time to improper technique, or just not working hard enough.

This is el-cheapo hardware store black lacquer, hand sanded to 12,000 and hand polished with 3M machine polish, on a 1/25 scale model.

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This shot shows that there is still a divot left from sanding out orange-peel on the rear cowl panel, and the gloss is still hazy too. All that means is that more concentrated sanding and polishing remains to be done. Far as I know, there's just no easy way out.

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Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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NOTE: There's also much confusion as to what is meant by "polish" and "wax", etc.

"Polish" generally comes in two main forms...rubbing compound, which is usually too coarse for model car work, and polishing compound, which contains a finer abrasive. Both of these products are fine abrasives, and actually "cut" the surface of paint, smoothing out sanding scratches in the process (rubbing compound is generally coarse enough to remove minor orange peel on real cars, and as such, is usually way too aggressive for model work). Polish a color that has no clear coat, and you will see color transferred to your polishing cloth. That's actually paint. When you polish a clear-coated color, the clear builds up the same way (though you can't see it) and hampers the cutting action of the polish. This is why frequent turning of the cloth to clean areas, with fresh polish applied, is imperative if you want that hard, haze-free gloss (on real cars, the buffing pads are cleared of paint and built-up polish very frequently, and it's not uncommon to use several in the course of doing one car).

"Wax" is a coating applied over a previously polished surface that fills microscopic imperfections, and provides a somewhat softer surface on top of the paint that can be buffed to a high gloss. Products called "cleaner wax" also contain polish (abrasive), and may or may not work well on models.

"Filling glaze" or "hand glaze" is another type of final surface filler, again on top of the paint, that can be buffed, likewise, to a high gloss.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Yup. Gotta have some compound. I like the Tamiya stuff myself.

Gonna need a couple more cases for my latest project though. ;):D

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Bill's got it pretty much down.

Polishing is a PITA, but in my opinion, it's the only way that you are going to get as close to a flawless paint job as possible.

In my opinion, in most cases, you will get a much more realistic looking finish on a model by polishing rather than not.

I see a lot of very nice shiny paint jobs on kits that don't have a realistic look because the builder relied on a finish clear coat to do the work for them.

To me, more often than not, an unpolished paint job looks "toy like" or almost like a piece of hard candy......too shiny.

If you look at any 1:1 car that's been around for any period of time there will be minor swirl marks, etc, that give a very slight "hazy" appearance.

To my eye, this is what you will accomplish with polishing.

I start with as smooth of a paint job as I can get, with as many clear coats as I possibly can without hiding detail.

This will help prevent any burn through during the polishing process.

Then, starting with the finest grit that I can get away with, usually around 3600, I remove all of the orange peel.

Then I work my way up to 12000 grit.

It takes a lot of elbow grease and time to do it properly, but I guess if you're not willing to put forth the effort, you're probably not real serious about achieving the best results possible.

In my opinion, there are no short cuts.

Then I work my way through a few successively finer liquid polishes.

I usually use some Novus "Heavy Scratch Remover", but rather sparingly, because by this time there shouldn't be much left for heavy scratches.

Then some Novus "Light Scratch Remover".

This will pretty much give you a nice shine, but from there, I usually give it a good polishing with something like Turtle Wax "Scratch & Swirl Remover".

This usually will give me a very nice reflective shine & will take out any leftover microscopic swirls & scratches.

After assembly, a light once over with Novus "Clean & Shine" will remove any finger prints & smudges & give you a very nice finish.

 

Steve

 

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Thanks to all for a thorough and inspiring discussion. I am struck by how many of the important points being made are ones that I "already knew" - so many of these points are ones I've experienced in the course of developing a final finish. In the final analysis,

I must agree with what Steve said about the scale realism of a polish surface as contrasted to the spectacular gleam of a perfectly applied and unmolested clear coat. Whenever I've admired the finish on a model it's been either for its especially appropriate realism in terms of the subject matter and style of the car, or, a a particularly impactful "mile deep" glowingly rich and shiny show paint job. If the builder is around I will usually ask if they polished the final coats. In virtually every instance the show paint builders have proudly said that they had not, so Cato's point that, in his experience, one path to the "surrealistic" impact of of a perfect shine is to do a perfect application of a virgin clear coat.

But as I said, my prejudices lean toward the realism side of the discussion. Paradoxically, realism in modeling is an illusion, the sum of many subtle interplays of color, shadow and texture. A literal representation of the 1:1 rendered in miniature can often look busy, over-detailed and,yes, "toy-like". But it's a style of modeling in its own right, and very impressive when done at the highest level. And sometimes magic happens, and the high-detail model transcends its intensity of detail and sublime realism occurs.

At the other extreme sometimes the sublime occurs when the most simple and minimalist of renderings results in a perfectly integrated expression of the soul of the subject. Think, for example, of a curbside model where choice of rolling stock, color, finish and the few details the modeler has allowed himself come together in the most efficient manner possible, utterly devoid of any flaws that would distract the eye. In fine art painting it would be like comparing Impressionism to Photo-Realism; both of them are in fact inaccurate renditions of the infinite complexity of the Real World, but the strategy to achieve a successful expression of what the artist wishes to put across could not be more different.

So I was reminded that only if I contributed the necessary "elbow grease" at every stage of applying the finish would I get the desired result. No final finish will ever be better than the substrate you start with, so impeccable execution of the surface preparation will carry you a long way in the process. But each layer of the finish is a new beginning, in effect a new substrate. My friend Raul Perez takes this reality to its ultimate extreme in doing his finishes. Raul allows each step of the finish, from primer forward, to cure thoroughly before wet sanding. He treats his initial color coats as, effectively, a filler for any imperfections, contending that color coats have a hardness and uniformity that is especially stable and lends itself to protecting against the possibility of "ghosting" of prior bodywork repairs and modifications, and ensures a depth and smoothness of subsequent layers. He "color sands" every coat, and only after an extended cure time, often as much as 10 days to 2 weeks between layers or more. This may seem extreme but he's not a particularly prolific or rapid builder so the approach suits him, and the results undeniable.

I have adopted some of Raul's approach in my better paint jobs, but the discipline and "elbow grease" it requires is a challenge, to put it lightly. As Bill points out, if you still have haze chances are you haven't polished enough. Similarly, all that polishing will never achieve the necessary depth of appearance if your substrate competes with the surface smoothness and traps the reflections on to the outer layers. So if I haven't kept my eye on the ball I can never recover from prior half-measures and "good-enoughs". The depth and uniformity starts very early in the game. The opposite is true as well, with enough application to renewing the surface as you polish even the final layers of clear can work miracles. But, in agreement with you all, this is only if you have the patience to keep polisihing until the finish comes back to you. If you tire early of the work involved it won't come to you on its own.

Thanks to you all for the discussion. I have my marching orders. The paint is curing and hardening and I will most likely choose to polish rather than roll the dice on a virgin clear coat. But both approaches have they're points.

Edited by Bernard Kron

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Yes the topic has been well covered but I didn't articulate my answer to Bernard's question as I meant it. He asked about the problem of haze after wet sanding to the finest grits. I relayed that my chosen method on this model was to get to the 12,000 grit stage and then clear with no further sanding or polishing. This is how I chose to rectify the haze problem.

The other responders all say that polishing after either color or clear will give a more 'natural' 1:1 finish. I do not contest this, merely state that my solution to haze was clear.

Certainly the entire process of color sanding with fine grits at every stage and thorough dry times is part of a flawless substrate. Once the final coat is applied (either clear or color) polishing is always an option. I have done it both ways in model and 1:1 form. A correctly applied last clear coat eliminates the additional steps of polishing with multiple products. And if done correctly avoids the lollypop, thick gloss look.

I do not think my result looks like the latter example; in person the model has a distinct premium 1930's finish. On the other hand my 1:1 project has the complete custom paint finish with sanding at each stage, (as does the model, except for polishes) primer, base color, two candy colors, stripe color and overall clear and 3M products by wheel and hand glaze. In spite of the number of finishes, it is not a 'thick' gloss finish - it lays completely flat.

The additional benefit of the clear on models I've found, is the fact that it enriches the color beneath and makes it pop.

I offered that to Bernard to achieve his goal of haze removal in an efficient, easier way.  There are several ways to accomplish the same goal.

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Edited by Cato

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... A correctly applied last clear coat eliminates the additional steps of polishing with multiple products. And if done correctly avoids the lollypop, thick gloss look....

The paint on your Rolls model is gorgeous, looks 'right'...and honestly...I'm rarely capable of shooting so flawless a coat of clear on a model.

If I could, I'd certainly prefer to avoid the tedium of final sanding and polishing. But I can't. Simple as that. :D

On the other hand, every now and then, I can lay down a pretty slick job on something bigger...

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The paint on your Rolls model is gorgeous, looks 'right'...and honestly...I'm rarely capable of shooting so flawless a coat of clear on a model.

 

I agree.

Along with the likelihood that I may still wind up with some sort of slight orange peel, which I can't accept personally, there's also the possibility of  ending up with a speck or two of dirt which would inevitably need to be polished out anyway.

I'll bet that it would be nearly impossible to find two modelers who use exactly the same technique for painting & in the end, it's whatever works best for the individual.

As for me, I prefer to pursue a nice finish after all of the paint is laid down rather than rely on my spraying skills, which are not always 100%.

 

Steve

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If I could, I'd certainly prefer to avoid the tedium of final sanding and polishing. But I can't. Simple as that. :D

On the other hand, every now and then, I can lay down a pretty slick job on something bigger...

 

Bill, undying respect for your experience and skills.B)

Steve, we all do what works best for ourselves and if your method works and pleases you that's the most important thing. This question by Bernard has proved there are many ways to (successfully) skin the cat. :D Practice and time will be the best teachers.

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Steve, we all do what works best for ourselves and if your method works and pleases you that's the most important thing. This question by Bernard has proved there are many ways to (successfully) skin the cat. :D Practice and time will be the best teachers.

Absolutely true.

 

Steve

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Long-standing TRaK member, super0fine modeler, and all around great guy Roger Hayes (Plowboy) responded to my wuestion which I also posted over on TRaK and recommended the Tamiya Polishing Compound system with this excellent description:

Forget the polishing cloths Bernard and get yourself the Tamiya polishing compounds (course,fine and finish). They're a little costly ... (b)ut, they're worth every penny. I used to use the polishing cloths. The problem with those is you have to dump on so much paint to allow for all of the sanding you have to do. Then,you still run the risk of burning through the paint. And then,you still have to polish out the haze which can be hard to get out completely. With the Tamiya compounds, all you have to do is sand with 2000 grit, Polish with the three compounds and you're done. I used to only polish models that I planned to show. But,with the Tamiya compounds, I polish every model now since it's so easy.  ... They leave the paint smooth as glass with no haze left behind. I've done several models with it so far and have barely made a dent in the tubes. I've already got my money's worth out of them.

The Tamiya system Roger recommended intrigued me, since I needed to get some final polishing compound in any case, so I looked it up on eBay. At least on eBay, none of the three grades (Coarse, Fine Finish) are available from a North American supplier, but you can get it from reputable Hong Kong hobby suppliers for less than $16.00 including shipping (see www.ebay.com/itm/222040986717 ), so I went ahead and ordered some. Tamiya stuff, while often pricey, seems to be reliably effective and top drawer virtually without exception,

I received the Tamiya polishing system today (it took 1 week too get here from the time I ordered it) and I have already used it on my project. It's exactly as Roger described it. I had put down three coats of Duplicolor Acrylic Lacquer clear ((my usual practice) with no final wet sanding. It had cured for about 10 days in all. I skipped any further wet sanding and went directly to the Tamiya system because there was virtually no visible orange peel. The Coarse knocked down any waviness, the Fine established a basic glassy smoothness, and the Finish gave it the final gleam I was after with, as I said, no perceivable haze. Thanks Roger! Great stuff! Highly recommended.

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Edited by Bernard Kron

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