Video: The Rule of Thumb - Sanding techniques by Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips

Global Director of Training
Staff member
Video: The Rule of Thumb - Sanding techniques by Mike Phillips

Something I practice myself and show in all my classes.

In this video, Mike Phillips shares his personal technique for avoiding mistakes, (burn-throughs), by staying about a thumbnail distance away from edges and raised body lines.

Wherever Mike goes, he always takes his thumb with him, thus it's easy for him to hold his thumb next to an edge or raised body line and then visually gauge how far to stay away from edges and body lines when hand or machine sanding.


There's 2 reasons why Mike practices this and teaches this in his sanding classes.

1: First rule of sanding is NEVER put sanding marks into the paint where you cannot SAFELY buff. By the word BUFF he means running the edge of a wool pad on a rotary polisher over the sanding marks to remove them. If you sand all the way up to and edge or a raised body line you now have to run the spinning wool pad next to the edge or the raised body line and you put yourself at RISK for buffing through the paint. The paint is thinnest on edges and raised body lines. Thus it's SUPER easy to buff or BURN through the paint in these areas and this will emotionally crush you when you discover you've buffed or burned through the paint on someone else's project. So practice The Rule of Thumb and avoid making mistakes.

2: No profit. When detailing or in this case sanding and buffing custom paint jobs on your clients cool project cars, if you truly wanted to be a PERFECTIONIST and remove ALL the ORANGE PEEL right up to the edges and raised body lines, I'm not saying it can't be done - what I'm saying is you'll end up working for pennies. The reason why is because of the TIME FACTOR

Sure you can sand next to and edge or raised body lines and with a enough TIME you can carefully massage out the sanding marks for a finish worthy of Dave Kendig, Wayne Carine or Chip Foose. And if these guys are paying you by the HOUR at a minimum of $100.00 per hour then GO FOR IT.

But the above is not reality.

So instead of working your way to the poor house, although your intentions are NOBEL - just use some common sense and use Mike's technique to stay safe and stay profitable.

Educate your customer
When talking to a customer about the sanding process to remove the orange peel and surface texture on their custom painted project - educate them. Explain you're HAPPY to sand and buff right up to the edges and raised body lines but the only way you can do it is via an hourly rate because it's both risky and time consuming. Once you EXPLAIN this to Jim - Jim is going to figure out right away that,

A: You're correct (and being honest)

B: Having you work by the hour to do this type of PERFECTIONIST sanding and buffing is going to cost him a ton of money and this is where he's going to agree with you to do your best and stay about a thumbnail distance away from edges and body lines.

Here's a quote by Mike Phillips, (based upon his experience)

"Words cannot describe the heart-sinking feeling that overcomes you with grief when you discover you've burned through the edge of some other person's custom paint job"

Questions? Call Mike during normal business hours EASTERN time at 772-312-9712

_Mike Phillips