"Made a lot of sense" is right!
This thread should be made a sticky, this thread has provided some GREAT information from everyone, if there is one thing that pops up over and over and is one of those frightening steps for a newbe it's cutting and buffing that paper thin layer of gold! The information gotten from this thread is VERY valuable information indeed!
I am with you Mike on the "urethane wave" too much being applied too soon is generally the culprit if you ask me.
First let me say that I LOVE cutting and polishing a show quality paint job, one that I shot of course, cutting and polishing someone else's work is scary to me even after all these years. But doing that final touch on a car, after a million and a half hours of welding and bare metal and blocking and all the hard work
you get to take your time and cut that micro thick film down to perfection and make it SHINE, I LOVE it!
And my real "color sanding" experience started nearly 35 years ago doing complete show quality lacquer paint jobs where they got fully color sanded after every five coats (for a total of 15 usually) and I am talking every single square inch, EVERY single spec of orange peel or texture, even in the jambs! Like I say, I LOVE this stuff!
Anyway, as Mike said there are many ways to do this and many will get the job done well. If you have five different guys there may be five different ways that will exist simply because of five different talents. We all have had different lessons that have taught us to go down a slightly different road to get to the same end result.
The one thing I have always done is try to apply a perfect layer of product (be it primer, paint or clear) in that I have the most consistent film thickness. Then when color sanding I sand it the same way, with the most consistent removal of film leaving the most consistent film in the end. Sounds pretty much common sense and that is what most of us do, but I can't emphasize enough how important it is to cut evenly.
The coarser the paper, the faster this can get out of control, so walk softly when using the 800. And remember when I started doing this we didn't even have the 800! We did it with 600 and when that "ultra fine" (the first paper finer than 600) came out it was a GOD SENT!
Ok, my method in a nut shell. I don't remove ALL the texture with the first paper (typically 1200, depending on what it needs, some times 1000 or even that 800 in areas). This is one of the mistakes I feel guys will make. They cut it perfectly flat and then move on to the next grit, in my opinion that is removing too much material, and unnecessarily I might add. If you are going to have to be sanding out sand scratches from the 800, removing material, why on earth would you need to cut the texture completely off with the 800? Why not cut it down to where you have learned the next step (being 1000) is going to cut the texture anyway when cutting down thru the 800 scratches?
So basically I cut the texture down to where the next grit is going to remove the previous grit and the remaining texture, this is at least for the first couple of steps 1000-1200 but maybe even going to the next, 1500. Then leaving zero texture for the 2000. With this method you are removing the minimum of that paper thin film of gold.
I make sure that the panel is PERFECTLY clean before each step. The bucket is PERFECTLY CLEAN
. We are talking clean enough to drink out of, and I am not exaggerating, clean enough to drink out of. The paper is again, perfectly clean. If a piece ever falls on the ground it is NOT reused without a trip to the faucet or sink to wash and get a very close inspection. Any rag to wipe the surface is kept clean like I was using it to wash my face. If the rag were to drop on the floor it would NOT be reused no matter what, a replacement is gotten. We are talking operation room clean here, there is nothing like picking up some microscopic piece of trash under the 2000 grit paper requiring you to cut that layer of gold more!
So keeping things clean is of the UPMOST
And on products, I use Mequiars products Click here
I have not used any paper that even comes close to the "Unigrit" paper they sell, it blows away 3m by leaps and bounds. The "Power cleaner" compound is the best I have found. click here
It doesn't take nearly as much as other brands which means you don't have your walls and the rest of the car covered in splatter. It is amazing stuff if you ask me.
But honestly, I have said for years if Mequiars starts making televisions or opens a restaurant I will be there, they are THAT good of a company.