Friday, 31 August 2007 10:00

Quick Cut Sanders Make Paint Finishing a Snap

Written by Rich Evans

When the automobile was first mass produced, it spawned several different industries, including our own auto body industry. No sooner did cars come off the assembly line, then individuals began souping them up and changing their appearance – bringing forth the custom auto body industry as well.

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Rich Evans with his signature Quick Cut Sander 

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Color pads for Evans Quick Cut Sander

        Since that time, some very impressive and memorable hotrods have been created by some very talented builders that have stood out as truly gifted individuals such as George Barris and Gene Winfield. As they raised the bar beyond what the industry could mass produce, they have  developed techniques that are being used today.

        However, one thing that is true about everyone in this business is that we are all constantly looking for quicker, better ways to get the same results. After all, if you can reach the same end in a fraction of the time, that’s more money in your pocket and a step up on the competition.

        Okay, so our goal as painters is to get the best finish possible, but regardless of how good we are, it’s just impossible to get a perfect, smooth, glassy finish straight out of the spray gun. There are always some little nubs, debris, and orange peel that need to be dealt with. Sometimes you can get close enough to pass without a color sand and buff, such as low-level collision jobs.

        But when you’ve spent a lot of man hours on a custom finish or high-end collision project, the color sanding and buffing process is a must.

        Up until now, the tools used to complete the color sanding process involved various grits of wet sand paper and a block. This has all been done by hand for decades and is one of the most time consuming and tedious procedures in the whole industry.

        For my whole career, I’ve preferred the block sanding by hand method as I’ve described in many of my articles. But I’m just like everyone else. If you can show me a method or tool that can give me the same results in a shorter time, then I am on board.

        When I heard about the Quick Cut Sander (which can also be used for prepping), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. It is a wet, pneumatic DA sander that works with a pump to give a constant supply of water. No more stopping every minute for more water. I’ve got to say, I was impressed with the performance of this product and the results I’ve gotten from it.

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Rich Evans' Signature Quick Cut Sander Kit

How it works

Step one is to hook the whole thing up, which is really easy to do. First, connect the filter with the accompanying hose which is then hooked up to the pump. The pump actually goes into the bucket of water and attaches to the bottom of the bucket with suction cups. Fill a five-gallon bucket with water and add a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent to make the sandpaper cut faster and last longer.

        Next, connect the DA to your air line and select the pad density – soft, medium or firm – appropriate for the area you are working on. After you have your pad selected and ready, make sure to wipe down your project with a degreaser.

        Color sanding can be a big job, particularly when working with graphics which can leave an edge, making it easier to burn or go through the clear in these spots. Thus far, in the projects my crew and I have completed, we have not had any burns!


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An added accessory: Evans branded water bucket
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 Water pump with HBBW logo

        Projects with complicated graphics start with color sanding and buffing, I first used the smaller pad recommended by the manufacturer, using some 1000 to knock out all the nubs and dirt. At this point, remember to use a low rpm, because at high speeds the DA can create a hydroplane and result in less cutting by the sandpaper– basically just wasting your time. Throw away this sheet of sandpaper and do not reuse it because it has foreign debris embedded in it that can scratch or contaminate your finish.

        Next, grab your 6" pad and use some 1500 grit sandpaper. From here you can switch to a more aggressive grit sandpaper or finish up with your 2000 grit sandpaper. The situation will depend on the amount of orange peel on the finish.

        With the buffer I used a 3M heavy compound with a #1 pad, then  polished it off with Meguiar’s polish and a gray waffle pad. The compound and the #1 pad will buff your finish to a nice shine, but leave you with a bunch of swirls that the waffle pad and polish will remove. All that’s left is to rub everything down with some Meguiar’s wax on a micro fiber cloth and we are done!

        If you are a seasoned painter with some skills, you can get a pretty good finish straight out of the spray gun, maybe even better than most factory finishes, that won’t require any color sanding and buffing. But when the challenge calls for a really pristine finish that’s going to turn some heads, color sanding and buffing is a must.

        For me there is a great sense of accomplishment doing everything by hand. However, there is nothing wrong with finding a little help where I can. The Quick Cut Sander saved me up to three-quarters of the time and would probably cut the time of a do-it-yourselfer in half.        As a matter of fact, as you can see in the photos, I was so impressed that I developed my own signature line of sanders for the company.

        So if you really want to save some time, cash, and a backache, give the Quick Cut Sander a try and check it out at www.quickcutsanders.com. Good luck and have fun!

        Rich Evans, owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks in Southern California, is an award winning painter and fabricator. Currently he is offering workshops at his facility so he can share his special techniques to other industry professionals. For more information about Evans, visit www.huntingtonbeachbodyworks.com.