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Rubbing out a painted finish - anyone else tried it?

1643 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Planeman40
I know some finishes dry hard and bond well enough to previous coats (like shellac) that it's easy to sand and polish them to a high gloss. Except for pianos, I can't find many examples of people doing it with paint, though. I assume lacquer would work fine. Latex…probably not.

I tried a test patch using Meguires rubbing compound gently on a coat of BM Advance only 24 hrs after spraying (so it was dry but not even fully cured/hardened) after light sanding. I was encouraged… I got an almost glass-like smoothness with under 20 seconds of gentle rubbing. It would be a PITA to do an entire cabinet but as a way to repair runs, etc, I think it might work. Seems like the waterborne alkyd will dry hard enough (although I doubt it bonds to prior coats like shellac).

What experiences have you had?
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My experience tell me that any finish that dries to a good hardness can be hand rubbed with an automotive polishing compound to a mirror finish. Even a steel surface. Of course, you have to prep he surface with sanding, scraping, and steel wool using finer and finer fibers and abrasives before the final use of a polishing compound. Polishing compound is nothing but an ultra-fine abrasive. On flat surfaces I have had great success with carefully scraping the surface with a single-edge razor blade followed by 00 grade steel wool and then 0000 grade steel wool. I then use a piece of soft paper towel or a pad of toilet paper to burnish the surface. Scraping on curved surfaces can be done, but ever so delicately. I usually just resort to a little more work with the 00 grade steel wool in place of scraping. I finish up with the polishing compound and after that some Johnson's paste wax. It is a slow and laborious process but it looks great. If you know what you are doing you can power buff with polishing compound, but it is easy to rub through the finish if you are heavy handed. The trick to hand rubbing with polishing compound is to use a small to moderate amount of compound and keep rubbing until the compound is dry. And then keep rubbing and rubbing! And its is better to rub in a straight line rather in circles.

I learned all of this when I was in my teens during the late 1950s when I had my first car. I loved that car and kept it waxed and polished. I went down to the local Cadillac dealership and asked the head of the paint department how to polish. He was kind enough to show me all of the tricks. I think he appreciated a young fellow wanting to know how how to do something right.

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