Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cutting and buffing part II: Buffing

Buffing is a lot more rewarding than cutting to a degree, but it also makes the cutting rewarding, especially if you took your time and didn't make large jumps between grits.  Since I sanded up to 3000, a shine comes immediately after starting buffing.

For buffing I took the advice of some of the most anal pro's I know and used the same materials they did: Chemical Guys V-series 32, 34, 36, and 38 compounds or polishes.  The 32 and 34 are compounds with more cutting, while the 36 and 38 are polishes that deliver a final intense shine.

I used a rotary buffer, and for the pads I used Hexalogic 6" pads, using the orange pad for cutting and the black pad for polishing.  The orange pad is a much more dense foam with more cutting, while the black pad is a very soft foam.  I used Chemical Guy's pad wash and conditioner.  I also used a flexible backing that I also got from Chemical Guys.

Let me first say the smells of these products will keep you going if nothing else.  The conditioner smells like bubble gum and I take a big whiff every time I use some.  Each of the compounds or polishes smell glorious too, and the pad wash also smells wonderful.

My buffing process went something like this:

  1. Make sure the panel is clean; impeccably clean.  I dusted with  California Duster first, then washed down the panel with soap and water.
  2. Put three to four small drops of compound (starting with the V32) on the orange buffing pad.  Less compound is better than more.  Use too much compound and it glazes the panel and doesn't actually cut.
  3. Spray some pad conditioner on the pad.
  4. Put the buffer on the lowest speed and start running over the panel to work the compound in.
  5. Turn the buffer up just a bit faster and work in a 2x2 foot area, making slow passes back and forth and up and down until the panel starts to clear off.  I found it's not necessary to apply more compound every time you go back to make more passes.  Adding more conditioner brings more compound up out of the pad and this still cuts.
  6. Wipe off the excess with a clean microfiber rag.  I had three designated microfiber rags and I stored each in a separate labeled ziplock baggie: "Dusting" (for wiping the panel off before compounding), "Compound" (for wiping excess compound off), and "Polish" (for wiping extra polish off).  The one thing I tried to do here was keep up with wiping off adjacent panels too, however I did a very poor job at this and now looking back, I wished I would have covered the entire car with soft cotton sheets except for the panel I was working on.
  7. Clean the pad after every three applications of compound.  To clean the pad, I put 4 capfuls of pad cleaner in a garden sprayer then filled the rest up with water, hooked it up to a hose, and sprayed the pad down with this to clean out the compound.  Then I stuck the pad back on the backing pad, stuck the buffer down inside a 5 gallon bucket and turned it on high speed to spin out the water.
  8. Move to the V34 compound next, then change to the black pad and move to the V36 and then the V38.  After some time however, I questioned if I could actually tell the difference between each of these compouds (I didn't think I could), so in the end I started with the V32 to cut and then polished with the V38 and to my eyes, this didn't look any different than the panels I had used all four compounds/polishes on.
Some illustrations:
Rogue scratches like this will haunt you through the entire process.  Time to back up and resand this area.

The roof all buffed out

The 'dollar bill test'.  Unfortunately the metallic cuts down on some of the clarity of the reflection in the picture.

The hood buffed out, sans hood scoop

Buffed quarter panel.  The only bad thing about having a really shiny car is it shows all the other crap you have sitting in the shop.

Ok, so I'm really behind in this blog and have been a bit more busy than buffing, however, this is the entire car buffed out.

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