Polishing Clear


Double Actioner
Hi all, I have a lot of different polishing compounds.. I have a grinder and a buffing wheel.. My question is, what is best to polish with? Can I use red jewelers rogue? I also have the blue rouge which is supposed to be finer than jewelers rogue.. Also, I have turtle wax polishing compound as well as meguiars polishing compound..
Also have filtz and a bunch of metal polishing compounds.. What works best on a grinder buffing wheel? Im thinking that the car polish wont stay on the wheel very well.. Thanks in advance!
Are talking about a bench grinder with a buffing wheel?.....If so, my first thought is it probably runs to fast....I don't know about yours, but my bench grinder would be too fast for buffing paint....fine for buffing aluminum and other metals, but not paint.
Oh ok. It runs at 3000 rpm I believe.. I have a car buffer that runs slower and will probably use the car polish.. I also have buffing wheels that fit on a cordless drill for smaller areas..
If you are using a hand held grinder it will be too fast as well. You will just burn the hell out of the paint or clear. You need a hand held buffer preferably variable speed on the trigger.

I all depends on what you are buffing and how much work you need to put into the surface you are trying to polish.

You need to more detailed in what you are doing and show photos. That way we all have a better idea on what you are trying to achieve.

Cheers, Red
Well it's a ps3 controller and another guy posed a topic about clear coating on the other airbrush forum.. Just curious if a bench grinder would be easier and faster than the hand polish he did.
Well it's a ps3 controller and another guy posed a topic about clear coating on the other airbrush forum.. Just curious if a bench grinder would be easier and faster than the hand polish he did.

Nope. A bench grinder runs way to fast. It will burn right through the paint and ruin the work you've already put into it. Being a novice, the size of a PS3 controller and keeping cost down, your best option is to do it by hand. I use a 3 inch buffer for small parts like this.
AT403MCKA, Kit, Polisher, Micro, 3", 5 pcs.

There are other brands that aren't so expensive (search for 3 inch buffer/polisher) if you decide to purchase one of these; however, these tools demand a lot of CFM from your air source. A hobby sized compressor won't be able to run these tools.
I would hand buff. using a high speed buffing wheel will do damage to paint and pastic. Cigartette ash and bees wax mixed are a good super mild buffing compound. Course it is smelly...but a wipe down with pledge after will fix that.
I still have to paint the controller.. I will be posting photos of all my work.. I'm really slow and I like to research and get a lot ideas before starting something.. Trying to decide weather to use wicked pearls on the controller, or enamel testors paint.. I also have liquitex spray paint in some pretty cool colors. Thinking of maybe painting a beach scene controller, a carbon fiber, or a bright blue and neon yellow. Can't decide! Maybe I should quit thinking and just do it!
Wow that snap on kit is nice.. I have a black and decker cordless drill that moves at real slow rpms. I was thinking of using that with some meguiars polishing compound..
old family recipe for polishing. well the ash is. they used oil..I always had beeswax around for water proofing my boots so used that. lol....Now I just throw whatever in my brass tumbler and check it in 4 hours.
Wow that snap on kit is nice.. I have a black and decker cordless drill that moves at real slow rpms. I was thinking of using that with some meguiars polishing compound..

I wouldn't recommend using the drill. Buffing paint is not quite the same as buffing metal or other things. It would be difficult to buff evenly without leaving scratches with a drill. An orbital buffer is better suited for paint.
What kind of clear are you putting on? That can make a difference too. To get that super shiny glass-like finish, you need a super hard finish, like lacquer or a good 2k urethane. If you're using any kind of poly... like polyurethane, they don't take well to buffing and you'll only get a headache. So, assuming you're using a lacquer or 2k, the steps I use would be the same.

If you want a true glass like finish, you need to wet sand between coats. Just a gentle rub down with 800 or 1000 grit will be fine, but don't do to much or you'll go right through the clear and paint, down to plastic. With all those rounded surfaces on a controller, you'll need to take real care not to sand too much.

once you have a few coats built up, you're ready for the final cut and buff. I always start the final cut with 1000 grit to get rid of any orange peel. Then go to 1500 to smooth it out, and finally 2000 grit which will start the actual buffing.

Once everything is sanded to 2000, then I use automotive rubbing compound. You can do it by hand, but a SLOW buffing wheel makes it so much easier. Rubbing compound is still relatively harsh, so you still need to take care not to go to far or your go through the clear.

After the rubbing compound, I use a polishing compound to get rid of the scratches from the rubbing compound. Again, you can do it by hand, but that slow buffing wheel will save you lots and lots of time and sweat.

Finally, I use meguiars scratch x 2.0 to do the final polish. I've tried lots of different things, but this stuff gives me the most consistent glass-like finish.

This is the process I've used on guitars for years, and have never had a complaint.

If you want to go a more traditional route, you could used pumic ash instead of rubbing compound and rotten stone dust in place of the meguiars. That was the what my grandfather used when he finished furniture and wanted a perfect finish, but I've had trouble finding a good supplier for those in my area.

Good luck, and remember to be VERY gentle on those rounded surfaces.
Thanks forever young! I have all the products mentioned and am using acrylic lacquer.. I also have 2k clear and just perfecting my style with the lacquer..
Acrylic lacquer will give you a good finish, but you do need to take a little care with it. Because it is acrylic and not nitrocellulose, it dries a little different. The nitro will continue to dry until the end of time. No matter how many layers you spray, the solvents will always find a way through... sure it will eventually be at miniscule levels, but the point is, the nitro will dry and harden for its entire lifetime.

The acrylic is different in that the once that top layer cures, it traps the lower solvents. Not completely, but enough that if your bottom layers are not completely dried, then it could take months to get the finish to harden. A lesson learned when I was trying to rush a guitar and sprayed the layers a little to soon. If the label says, let it dry for 2hours between 70 and 85 degrees between coats, for example, then I would count that as the base minimum. Make sure wherever you spray, it is warm and has good air flow too. Spray several light coats. With the acrylics, I might do as many as 10 or 12 light coats on a guitar, where as with the nitro, I would usually do one light dust coat first, then three medium to heavy coats.

I like the acrylics because they are a little less harmful and a lot less likely to explode (They use nitrocellulose in rocket fuel), but you just need to use a little extra care when spraying to get the finish to cure right, but they also tend to be more forgiving, less likely to fish eye and stuff.
What do you use for covering up the holes on the controller? It's quite a challenge to get tape to fit in there right to cover the whole button space.. Thinking of using masking liquid or rubber cement instead..
I've never done a controller, so can't really say. I have done hollow body guitars and had to finagle the tape into the f-holes so they were taped from the inside... there's 90 minutes of my life I will never get back. and I never tape off the holes for the knobs or anything... with a controller, I don't know how close the tolerances are for those holes. If there is some build up from the clear, will it make getting the buttons and joy sticks back in place? you can always take an exacto knife and lightly scrape out any lacquer build up that might be in the way.
A lot of great advice in this thread. One more thing worth mentioning: From my perspective (granted, i've been doing this for a long time), you shouldn't have to cut and buff a small controller like this. Otpowell, if you plan to clear things yourself invest the time required to learn how to set up your gun properly and learn the products you choose to use (all clears do not spray the same). It's very easy to achieve a sprayed glass smooth finish on small parts with practise. I applaud all of the research and questions you've already asked, but a lot of research requires getting your hands dirty too. Carry on and good luck!
Well it's a ps3 controller and another guy posed a topic about clear coating on the other airbrush forum.. Just curious if a bench grinder would be easier and faster than the hand polish he did.
there is another airbrush forum.......huh.....well who knew?!?!
I use this stuff, there are other grades too, and it works great. If you use your drill, make sure you keep it moving, don't stay in one spot, even at slow speeds you can burn. For a small thing like a controller, I would just do it by hand.