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The best way to polish spray can paint

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If you're like me, you don't have the money or space for an airbrush setup. So I do all my body paint jobs with basic spray cans. I'm getting tired of getting a lot of orangepeel in the paint, and it ultimately leaving the paint looking unprofessional or unfinished. I want to try and start polishing the paint I work with from now on, but I'm very unsure of the best method. Should I use sandpaper, a buffing wheel with polishing compound, or a combination of the two? I'm also looking for a method that isn't too complicated, I'm not looking for show quality. Just something that can eliminate most of the orangepeel from coats of spray cans. Thanks.

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What type of paint are you using?

That alone can be a large determining factor of how much orange peel you may have to deal with.

 

Steve

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First off, if you're using enamel, you have to let it dry at least a month. If you can still smell any paint, it's not dry/polishable yet. 

Second, forget a "buffing wheel" or any kind of mechanized polishing. Polishing model paint needs to be done with your own sensitive fingers. 

Third, stop by an auto supply store and pick up some 3M WetorDry sandpaper in #1000, #1200, #1500, and #2000 grits. 

More to come....

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We need more info on whether you're using lacquer, enamel, or acrylic paints. Maybe even what brand in order to help you with your painting problems.

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1 hour ago, Snake45 said:

First off, if you're using enamel, you have to let it dry at least a month. If you can still smell any paint, it's not dry/polishable yet. 

Second, forget a "buffing wheel" or any kind of mechanized polishing. Polishing model paint needs to be done with your own sensitive fingers. 

Third, stop by an auto supply store and pick up some 3M WetorDry sandpaper in #1000, #1200, #1500, and #2000 grits. 

More to come....

+1

In addition to the sandpaper, get a set of polishing cloths with 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000 and 12000 grits. They're what a lot of people around here use. Then go to the polishing compounds. I use Novus 1, 2 and 3.

I never use anything mechanical when polishing paint. I have enough trouble polishing through paint on corners using my fingers. I'd really mess something up using a power tool.

One thing I've learned since I've been back in this hobby, there are very few shortcuts. Some things just take time, patience and control. Hard for me to do sometimes.

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8 minutes ago, Miatatom said:

One thing I've learned since I've been back in this hobby, there are very few shortcuts. Some things just take time, patience and control.

And more often than not, those are the things that produce an exceptional model.

 

Steve

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The only polish I use is Wright's Silver Cream, a silver polish available at Walmart and anywhere household cleaning stuff is sold. Been using it for 30+ years. Works great on paint or plastic, even clear plastic, and has NO chemical in it--it's water soluble and washes right out of door lines etc with running water and toothbrush. 

Here's another tip I've learned, and the worse the orange peel is, the more it applies: One minute of wet-sanding is worth five to ten minutes of polishing. In other words, knock your OP surface down to "flat" quickly with the fine sandpaper, and then it doesn't take long to polish it up to fine shine. 

I've never used polishing cloths or pads. Can't buy them locally, and I hate relying on the mail for basic supplies. 

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13070945154de8adf371914.jpg.f61bf02030f4564a6004bbf76598d744.jpg

I use an airbrush for everything except the bodies.... I still like rattle cans to spray the bodies and I am sold on Tamiya spray cans. I always warm up the room I'm spraying in. And I warm up the paint by sitting it in a bowl of very warm water. I hardly ever get orange peel and it dries very glossy . I usually don't need any polishing.

This is the first model I used it on.  I used no primer and I did no polishing... I hope this helps too...

BUICKGN2-vi.jpg.f0bb4991228cbcfd3ffd295184612ee9.jpg

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11 hours ago, Miatatom said:

...there are very few shortcuts. Some things just take time, patience and control...

 

11 hours ago, StevenGuthmiller said:

And more often than not, those are the things that produce an exceptional model.Steve

Exactly.

I would also respectfully suggest you spend time practicing your spray technique...no matter what material and hardware you use (rattlecan or airbrush), to minimize making orange peel in the first place. It is possible to spray your color so slick, it needs very little after-work.

The green hood below is exactly as-shot, with no sanding or polishing afterwards. It's Duplicolor rattlecan green, with Testors rattlecan "wet look" clear as a topcoat.

Image result for ace-garageguy 50 olds

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

It is possible to spray your color so slick, it needs very little after-work.

Yes, it's possible, and I've done it, but you can't count on it IME. There will always be many factors you can't control with "technique," such as the formulation of the paint itself.

It's good to know how to polish/fix a paint job. And then if everything just happens to work out perfectly, that's great and you've had a good day. If not, it's bidness as usual and you drive on with your SOP. 

Truth to tell, I kinda like polishing paint, even if I've got an acceptably smooth job to start with. B)

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3 minutes ago, Snake45 said:

Yes, it's possible, and I've done it, but you can't count on it IME. There will always be many factors you can't control with "technique," such as the formulation of the paint itself...

I'll stand by my experience that it IS possible to control the application of materials, by whatever method is chosen, to get minimal peel every time. It may take more practice and experience than most people are willing to expend the time to amass, and it usually necessitates shooting test panels prior to shooting the model itself...again more effort than most people will put out. It's entirely possible to adjust one's technique to compensate for variations in rattlecan paint viscosity. I do it all the time. And if you're airbrushing, and you understand the tool and the procedures, you can control exactly how your material behaves.

In the real-car world, going into the spray booth is NOT a hit-or-miss proposition. It would be economically untenable to wonder if every paint job or repair was going to "come out good", and have to expend huge amounts of time on the back-end correcting poor application technique.

I personally take this same approach with models. Learn the materials and techniques, practice, test FIRST, and understand fully what you're trying to achieve.

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2 hours ago, Snake45 said:

Yes, it's possible, and I've done it, but you can't count on it IME. There will always be many factors you can't control with "technique," such as the formulation of the paint itself.

It's good to know how to polish/fix a paint job. And then if everything just happens to work out perfectly, that's great and you've had a good day. If not, it's bidness as usual and you drive on with your SOP. 

Truth to tell, I kinda like polishing paint, even if I've got an acceptably smooth job to start with. B)

And in my experience, even if you do get a perfectly smooth shiny finish, it will still benefit from some polishing.

In my opinion, polishing will give a more realistic looking finish than leaving it as is.

To my eye, unpolished finishes look a little too "candy like".

 

Steve

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3 hours ago, StevenGuthmiller said:

And in my experience, even if you do get a perfectly smooth shiny finish, it will still benefit from some polishing.

In my opinion, polishing will give a more realistic looking finish than leaving it as is.

To my eye, unpolished finishes look a little too "candy like".

 

Steve

I couldn't agree with you more. "Wet look" paint just doesn't look real. Or "scale." Or something. Polishing dials it back to a more realistic finish. 

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3 hours ago, StevenGuthmiller said:

And in my experience, even if you do get a perfectly smooth shiny finish, it will still benefit from some polishing.

In my opinion, polishing will give a more realistic looking finish than leaving it as is.

To my eye, unpolished finishes look a little too "candy like".

I agree completely, but actually learning to control the paint process to eliminate as much orange-peel as possible saves a whole heck of a lot of time and effort on the back end.

Having to sand out excessive peel also makes it far more likely you'll go through the finish on high spots, and that opens an entirely new can of worms.

But however you achieve it, Steve, what you're doing works.  :D

 

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49 minutes ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

Having to sand out excessive peel also makes it far more likely you'll go through the finish on high spots, and that opens an entirely new can of worms.

That's a problem with me sometimes. Aggravating.

I know in 1:1 cars, always shoot the wheel openings, corners, etc. Do you do that on models, Bill?

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1 minute ago, Miatatom said:

That's a problem with me sometimes. Aggravating.

I know in 1:1 cars, always shoot the wheel openings, corners, etc. Do you do that on models, Bill?

It can be tricky with spraybombs, but yes, I generally shoot both lower edges, both ends, and then shoot one side, working over the top to the other side.

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52 minutes ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

I agree completely, but actually learning to control the paint process to eliminate as much orange-peel as possible saves a whole heck of a lot of time and effort on the back end.

Having to sand out excessive peel also makes it far more likely you'll go through the finish on high spots, and that opens an entirely new can of worms.

But however you achieve it, Steve, what you're doing works.  :D

 

I agree!

The smoother the better!

I can't remember ever getting a paint job so smooth that I could get away without at least some polishing.

Not since I stopped using enamel anyway.

 

Steve

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14 minutes ago, Pete J. said:

Wrote this article for Tamiya 14 years ago now, but everything in it is still relevant. https://www.tamiyausa.com/articles/painting-with-tamiya-synthetic-lacquers-35?category_id=8&type=article#.W0Kl39JKiMp

Man, that's great. Explains all the whys as well as the hows. This ought to be required reading for anyone getting into the hobby. Sure would save a lot of grief. 

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36 minutes ago, Miatatom said:

That's a problem with me sometimes. Aggravating.

I know in 1:1 cars, always shoot the wheel openings, corners, etc. Do you do that on models, Bill?

When airbrushing, I always do all the sharp edges and door lines first--a couple coats, and then I open up and spray the whole body. Maybe same thing on 2nd coat. By third coat, I can just spray overall. It's very rare I polish through on a sharp edge any more. 

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On 7/8/2018 at 8:54 AM, Snake45 said:

The only polish I use is Wright's Silver Cream, a silver polish available at Walmart and anywhere household cleaning stuff is sold. Been using it for 30+ years. Works great on paint or plastic, even clear plastic, and has NO chemical in it--it's water soluble and washes right out of door lines etc with running water and toothbrush. 

Here's another tip I've learned, and the worse the orange peel is, the more it applies: One minute of wet-sanding is worth five to ten minutes of polishing. In other words, knock your OP surface down to "flat" quickly with the fine sandpaper, and then it doesn't take long to polish it up to fine shine. 

I've never used polishing cloths or pads. Can't buy them locally, and I hate relying on the mail for basic supplies. 

That sounds good, I'll try that next time. I'll try and get some spare bodies and practice on those first. I don't have a lot of experience wet sanding and polishing, so it may take me a few tries to get it right.

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On 7/8/2018 at 9:17 AM, D. Battista said:

13070945154de8adf371914.jpg.f61bf02030f4564a6004bbf76598d744.jpg

I use an airbrush for everything except the bodies.... I still like rattle cans to spray the bodies and I am sold on Tamiya spray cans. I always warm up the room I'm spraying in. And I warm up the paint by sitting it in a bowl of very warm water. I hardly ever get orange peel and it dries very glossy . I usually don't need any polishing.

This is the first model I used it on.  I used no primer and I did no polishing... I hope this helps too...

BUICKGN2-vi.jpg.f0bb4991228cbcfd3ffd295184612ee9.jpg

That's something I have heard about, never tried it though. If I can produce results as good as that Grand National, then I'd be more than happy with that.

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Curious what everyone thinks about this post?  I found it in a search recently:

It is the 6th post by E St. Kruiser50 if you click and it doesn't go straight to it

Edited by jchrisf

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10 hours ago, .Regal said:

That's something I have heard about, never tried it though. If I can produce results as good as that Grand National, then I'd be more than happy with that.

While I do use an airbrush, I do not sand, polish, or wax my models.   This one was painted with Tamiya Fine White primer, and few coats of nail polish.  Stripes are painted using AccuPaint (model railroad paint similar to Tru-Color paint), and there are few coats of Testors Wet Look clear.  All airbrushed with a Badger 200 airbrush.  I have spot sanded/polished boogers on few of my models, but that is rare. Never the entire body.

Bottle01_zps25474a88.jpg.4886191bed40c9c2e3aa112e9c019a91.jpg

Workbench7099_zps97a78a5c.jpg.0e6e5dc134b8ee074a7ec2cf45abc922.jpg

Edited by peteski

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I almost exclusively use tamiya sprays for bodies. My method is usually the following. First and foremost have the body prepared with primer and wetsand most if not all the orange peel down with 2500-3000.

With your color coats, just start with mist coats. 5-10 Minutes apart is fine. Build up the layers with mist coats until the primer is completely covered and opaque and the panel lines have a solid base  coat of paint. 

Then do one-two medium wet coats. Let this dry for a few hours at least. When dry, color sand/wetsand this layer with micro mesh polishing cloths. I usually use 3600 up to 6000. The point of these coats are to provide a smooth a color matched base for the final wet coats, this will also give them depth. Be careful not to burn through the paint. When finished I wash the body off and use a damp paper towel to wipe off excess water. I then use an airbrush to spray compressed air to make sure there is no more debris or water. Then Ill wipe it with a tack cloth and then a few swipes with Tamiya's static display anti dust brush before the final wet coats.

Then lastly spray your final wet coats. You should have a deep and beautiful shine with minimal orange peel. I always clear coat my paints with TS-13 and I usually have very little orange peel. If i do its pretty easily rubbed off. 

A little bit of orange peel is actually somewhat realistic, especially if its a mass produced car.

Edited by DiscoRover007

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