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Polishing with sandpaper

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  • Member since
    January 2021
  • From: Somewhere near Chicago
Polishing with sandpaper
Posted by Teenage Modeler on Saturday, May 15, 2021 8:11 AM

This technique has always worried me. I am scared that if I sand the top coat too much, it will burn through and scratch the base coat of the model. Does anyone know how to polish a model car correctly?


As far as I know, the top coat should have 3 coats of gloss. Then, wetsand it with 1000 grit for a few minutes, then move on to 3000, then 5000, 6000, 8000, then 10000. After all that has been done, use a polishing compund (such as Tamiya) and polish it using a cotton wheel buffer using a Dremel. Then, wipe out the excess residue from the polishing compund after you're done, and it should be shiny as heck.


But the thing I'm concerning the most, is that I have to use a lot of different grits of sandpaper, which means that I have to sand a lot. Should I be worried that it would burn through the top coat?  

Why do I keep changing my signature?? 


  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, May 15, 2021 8:59 AM

I personally never go below 3000 grit before polishing. Auto rubbing compound or toothpaste seem to be aggresive enough to skip the finer sandpaper and move to polishing compounds.  There are various grits of these but that is never shown on product.  You just need to find out by experience.

Polishing of full size cars seems to be something from a bygone era.  Modern clearcoats are so good the shine lasts for life of car.

In general the polishing procedure is to dip a clean cotton T-shirt in the compound, spread it over the area to be polished and rub till it appears to be shiny.  Wait about two or three minutes for it to dry a bit, and them wipe it off with a clean area of cloth, or a second cloth.  Be aware that many polishing and rubbing compounds may include wax, so I only do polishing after the final paint coat.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, May 15, 2021 10:10 AM

NO Dremel.



 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Saturday, May 15, 2021 10:18 AM

I'll second what Bill said, DEFINITELY NO DREMEL.

For polishing, I have each of the different MicroMesh sets, along with a Novus kit (3 progressively finer polishing compounds).  For application and removal of the Novus polishing compounds, I use cotton finger to apply and rub...the next finger to remove it and do the final polish.  When you're done with a polishing session, you can throw the gloves in with your laundry and they're good to go for next time (albeit a little smaller).

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Saturday, May 15, 2021 12:50 PM


 To be honest with you.I have NEVER heard ,until the last few decqades of Clearcoating a car and then polishing it. The only reason I did it on the TR07 monogram model was the Metallic paint  was not glossy enough to be believeable. Other than that,I let them sit for a week or more and just relax and gas out at their own pace.

   Then when I take a fingernail in a place that will be covered I see if the paint is real hard. If so I polish with a soft cotton cloth and then wax. Set aside and  admire. Many are always Foil chromed BEFORE the wax coat.


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