Date: Mon Aug 3, 1998
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** How to obtain a really high gloss finish.
This is a single question with a long answer.
[Q] How do I get a really high gloss finish on my model cars?
[A] firstname.lastname@example.org (John Ragone 1/95)
Subject: paint polishing
If things would have gone as planned, this would have been posted days
ago, as promised. But, you know, the best laid plans... As luck would
have it, the damn system crashed just before I was ready to post the
Anyway, somebody asked me the best way to use an LMG Polishing kit. I
shouuld preface this by saying that I have a MSC kit that I bought a
few years ago (whatever happened to them anyway?). Im told that there
is little, if any difference between the two, so hopefully, this wont
be too confusing....
Now then, there are a few factors that you need to be aware of, or
that you need to determine before you begin. They are:
1) Paint type (this should be obvious)
2) Number of paint coats:
This one isnt as obvious as you might guess. You need to know the
number of coats of the topmost color layer. This means, if you used a
clearcoat, then you need to know roughly how many coats you laid down.
3) Coat layer thickness
4) How hard the paint dries
Numbers 2, 3, and 4 actually all go together. These factors tell you
roughly what your margin of error is. For example, if we are using
Testors enamel, we are dealing with a soft paint when completey cured
(unless you airbrushed it), and the paint layer actually dries in a
pretty thick coats (as opposed to lacquer, which is very hard but
dries in micro-thin coats). So, if we shot 2 coats of clear, then we
are dealing with a pretty thick layer of paint here. We can do a fair
amount of polishing before we cut through to the color below. But
because its soft, we'll wind up removing alot pretty quickly. Bottom
line? Go slowly and dont use an aggressive sanding sheet, or youre
gonna work your way into the color or primer layers. Anyway, its alot
simpler than Im making it sound. If I lost ya, mail me, and Ill try
At this point, Ill state the obvious. Your paint job should be as
smooth possible, and allow a week for it to cure in a fairly warm
place. This kit can produce terrific results, but it wont work
Now that we understand what we are dealing with here (I hope), I'll
cover the CORRECT way to use the kit. For starters, if youre following
the instructions, youre doing it wrong. I think the instructions tell
you to start with the coarsest sanding sheet, then use the next
finest, then the next...on down to the finest sheet. That might work
great on a real car, but were dealing with alot less paint here. I
promise youll cut through to the primer...OUCH!
I will describe the process for the aforementioned Testors paint job,
and later on I'll list the basic steps for other types of paint.
While you can sand the surface with a dry sheet, the best way is to
use sandpaper that has been wet with soapy water. This lubricates the
surface and flushes away the excess particles, so they dont dig into
the smooth paint. I like to take an empty bottle of Dawn dishwashing
detergent and either fill it with water to dissolve whatever is left
on the sides, or just mix in a few drops....I should also mention that
the sheets dont clog up and last alot longer. You should also always
work under a bright light source.
Use the sanding block (if you dont youll be sorry...) provided and
start with the 6000 grit sheet. Work slowly, and check your progress
from time to time. What you are looking for is an even sheen- no
shiney spots. Dont worry about the tinyest nooks and crannies. If your
paint is pretty smooth to start with, it wont be a problem. We'll take
some compound to those spots later. Next turn to the 8000 grit sheet,
and repeat step 1.
NOW move on to the LMG compound (one of these days Im gonna find out
what this is and who makes it...If you know, please mail me). I use an
old T-shirt thats has been cut into 3" x 3" squares (I also toss 'em
in some fabric softener, just to be safe). Dampen the rag, put a tiny
drop about the size of a pea. Just work it in a circular motion. It
might take a few times, but it should really shine by now. For those
tough areas, get a *really, really * soft toothbrush that has been
well used. Load it with a drop of compound a gently scrub it into
Now this is where I forget about the kit and move on to some other
great products. Go to the autoparts store, or paint supply house, and
buy 2 products. First is Liquid Ebony. Its a paint swirl remover. This
stuff works really well on softer paints. How well? Ive used it to
polish scratched CD's. It makes 'em look like new and restores the
optical surface :) The second is called Deep Crystal made by
Meguiers. This is better on lacquers. (Dont use this on CD's though,
thats how I found out that the L.E. work s). Between the 2, you should
be able to get the paint looking like its dripping wet...Use it just
like the LMG compound. At this point, you can use wax if you like. I
do on occasion, but most often, I dont.
Here's the list that I promised earlier. This is based on my
4000 or 6000 grit, then 8000 grit, LMG compound, L.E. or Deep Crystal
3600 or 4000, then 6000, LMG compound, Deep Crystal
Acrylics (Pactra, Testors, Tamiya):
6000 or 8000, then 12000, LMG compound, L.E.
Let me conclude by saying this has worked very well for me. You will,
most likely have to experiment. This is *almost* every trick I
know. You should be delighted with the results.
John / RPM (Raging Plastic Maniacs model club)
rec.models.scale FAQ, part 8
FAQ Table of Contents