The job is never finished. By the time you get to the final section of the airplane, the first section you did is now ready to be re-polished.
Perfection is not possible. Regardless of the quality achieved, you will always have sections of the airplane you believe can and should be improved.
You are your harshest critic. Others will consistently judge the final results to be far better than you do.
At most shows, many who stop by to look at the airplane will tell you they have a friend who has the most beautifully polished airplane in existence. Just smile. Many others will offer suggestions about products and techniques to achieve better or faster results. Again, just smile. However, make a mental note of what they are recommending and if it sounds interesting, put it on your list of things to try.
There are three major, but unequal, components of polishing. They consist of effort, technique and materials. While all are critical components, effort is most important. The real amount of effort required is far more than most people would ever imagine.
Cleanliness during the polishing process is also critical. Once a buffing pad or polishing cloth has been used for a particular product or grade of polish, never use if for something different. If a polishing pad or cloth touches the floor or any other unclean table or surface, do not use it again.
Don’t be cheap. Polishing cloths, buffing pads and quality polishing supplies are expensive. While it is possible to wash certain items, they do not work as good as new materials. If you want the best result possible, use the best materials possible. If you do decide to wash something, don’t use your family washing machine! That mistake will cost you.
You can never have too many buffers. No one buffer will satisfy all of your needs. At a minimum, you will need a dual head Cyclo Buffer and an automotive style disc buffer. Smaller specialty buffers are useful for concave and difficult to reach areas. Having more than one of each type buffer is useful when you are using multiple grades of polish. That will reduce the amount of time associated with frequently changing buffing pads.
Although rare, you might have someone make a sincere offer to help you polish. Don’t do it! At best, you won’t be satisfied with the result, and at worst, they may actually damage the metal. If someone is going to damage your airplane due to a polishing mishap, it needs to be you.
To paraphrase a famous quote – – fingerprints happen. Beautifully polished metal is like a magnet for human hands at airshows, but those fingerprints are also an indication of a quality polish job. Just another reason to smile.
Finally, the job is never finished. Polishing is truly a never-ending task; so in that spirit, go back to the top of this list and start over.