JBugs Video Series

1971 VW Super Beetle - Wet Sanding:

1971 VW Super Beetle - Wet Sanding

Video Overview:

You know that nice paint job on our 1971 Super Beetle, we’re going to sand it down! Carefully of course, then we’ll polish it back to a mirror like shine. This is all planned and the only way to eliminate the orange peel that all paint jobs have. What’s orange peel? Follow along and see as our tech shows you and covers other small imperfections that will happen with almost every paint job and how wet sanding and polishing the paint will help to eliminate them.


Video Tips:

Tools & chemicals used in this video:
Masking Tape
Bucket of Water
Spray Bottle of Water
1000 Grit Sand Paper
1200 Grit Sand Paper
1500 Grit Sand Paper
Soft Sanding Block
Aluminum Channel
Variable Speed Orbital Polisher
7” Polishing Disc
Cotton & Foam Polishing Pads
Cutting Compound
Polishing Compound
Clean Soft Cotton & Micro-fiber Cloths
Detailing Spray

Video Transcript:

Wax on.
Wax off.

Hi! I'm Sam with JBugs.com, I'm going to show you how to wet sand and polish.

Wax on.
Wax off.

Now that our 1971 Super Beetle has all its windows in place, we're going to wet sand and polish the paint.
Since Glasurit 22 line paint is a single-stage paint, we didn't want to color sand it too soon as it still would have been too soft.
It's been almost exactly a year though and the paint has hardened plenty.
Why do we want to wet sand our paint?
Looking at the overall surface of the paint, from a few feet back, it looks nearly perfect.
The closer and the closer you get though, the more you see the surface of the car isn't exactly smooth.
The texture you see is referred to as "orange peel" accordingly as the surface resembles the skin of an orange.
All automotive paint jobs have some amount of orange peel as it is part of the paint curing.
Orange peel aside, another issue that can occur when painting a car is a run or a sag.
This happens when too much paint accumulates in one spot like when spraying in tight areas or in areas that have to be shot from multiple angles.
The paint gets too heavy and starts to run or sag.
Additionally, dust, dirt, hair, insects, and countless other things can find their way into a paint job, especially if you aren't spraying your car in a paint booth.
Our car was painted in a booth but, despite blowing the car out multiple times beforehand, dirt will inevitably fly out of crevices and into the paint.
To take care of these problems, we're going to sand the paint down smoothly.
This might seem crazy but with very fine sandpaper, we can smooth the paint down then, we can polish it back to a shine.
Wet sanding and detailing experts might start out with paper or file blocks as rough as 600 grit and eventually finish with 3,000 grit.
If you have the time and the experience, it certainly can be done that way.
Myself, and the guys I've worked with find that starting with 1,000 grit and finishing with 1,500 or 2,000 grit sandpaper will do the job just fine.
The paint can then be polished out with cutting and then polishing compound.
Then, I'll come back later and polish once again, after the final assembly, just for good measure.
Since we are not experts and we are not going to polish every nook and cranny of the paint, we tape off areas that are easy to sand through such as the raised edges.
We also tape off hard to polish areas like the edge of the body panels.
We'll concentrate on the large areas that will have the most impact to the look of the car.
Since there is visual distortion at the edges and smaller areas, polishing to the edge of the panel isn't really needed.
We did have some sags in the back edge of the hood, at the fresh air vent, so we'll have to sand here but we'll be extra cautious.
With the hood taped off and wiped clean, we'll do a quick demonstration of the process.
We start with 1,000 grit sandpaper that has been soaking in a clean bucket of water, a soft sanding block, and a squirt bottle filled with water.
We begin sanding with a wet surface and we'll keep the surface wet to keep the sandpaper clean.
Since we have a single-stage paint job with no clear coat, as we sand the blue color we see is the actual paint.
We'll keep away from the taped edges as much as possible as we don't want to see a line from where we've sanded, we want a blend of the smooth areas into the edges.
Once the paint is sanded smooth, we wipe the surface down with a clean soft cloth and now we can begin the polishing process.
When I first learned to polish, there were only two pads available, a cotton pad for cutting compound and a foam pad for polishing compound.
Nowadays though, most autobody suppliers will have a variety of foam pads for various stages of cutting and polishing.
Foam pads are much more forgiving than cotton but I still prefer to start with a cotton pad.
Using a clean pad on a variable speed rotary polisher, along with some cutting compound spread out on the hood, we get to work carefully and slowly polishing the paint.
You can see from the splattered compound, why we waited until the windows were installed.
We don't want to stay in one area too long as the paint can heat up and spraying a little water can help keep the pad and the compound from drying out too much.
Once we polish the hood, we clean it up with a clean rag and water and you can see that our paint had regained most of its shine but still has some swirls.
We swap our cotton pad out for a foam pad and then, using a polishing compound, we repeat the process.
After cleaning up with some detailing spray and a microfiber cloth, the surface of our paint is now just as shiny as it was before sanding but now has a much more smooth surface.
For the sag behind the air vent, we use a small aluminum channel as a flat block for our sandpaper and sand the paint down here in a tight area until the sags are eliminated.
Resist the urge to use a finger or fingers to sand as you'll sand a groove in the paint since your fingers are not flat.
Once the sag has been sanded flat, we can cut and polish the paint here being cautious to polish over the edge not into it with our pad.
Here on our door, with some natural light through a window, you can more clearly see the difference between the smooth sanded surface texture and the edges.
This is what we're looking for, a blended transitioning [area] between the edge and the sanded areas.
There is a little crash course on wet sanding and polishing paint.
We're not experts by any means but this is one area that can really make a difference in the look of a paint job.
We wanted to share the process and demonstrate that it can be done by the average person.
If you care to see the whole process, here's a short time-lapse taken over the two days it took to wet sand and polish our car.

Thanks for watching!

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