Wet Sanding Master Class by Jason Killmer – The Phantom Polisher
By Christopher Brown of OCDCarCare.com – 25 March 2014
In Mid December of 2013, I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle and train with Jason Killmer in what came to be known as the “Seattle Shine Bonanza.” This was an intensive 4 1/2 day clinic on all things wet sanding, focusing primarily on wet sanding hand techniques– inside a non-heated 39 degree garage on a rainy long weekend. There was never a lack of varying defects, paint types, and surfaces to sand or polish. Nor was there any shortage of detailed instruction packaged in easily digestible pieces from a passionate instructor.
For those of you who don’t know of Jason Killmer.. well, You SHOULD!!
Jason has quietly racked up an extremely impressive resume of work, including some of the biggest award-winning and show stopping vehicles in the last ten years. While many of these vehicles have not displayed his name upon on the winner’s awards; they all have one unmistakable thing in common — his signature of shine has touched them all before their biggest moments. Most recently he sanded (completely by hand) and buffed out the Pirelli Great 8 Finalist, and eventual 2013 Rilder Award Winning Ford, named “Checkered Past.”
Jason is renowned in hot rod circles for his ability to leave show car paint looking like colored glass upon finishing his processes. He is notoriously meticulous and is well-known for taking up to 10 hours to wet sand and finish each panel! To TRULY put this in perspective, this means that a hood, from start to finish, could take between 30-40 hours to complete. Most detailers don’t spend 10 hours on a two-step paint correction of an entire car!
Admittedly, these time amounts per panel seem utterly ridiculous in the context of an article. However, the finished results often inspire admirers to feel as if they are looking at King Arthur’s Excalibur, basking in the warm embraces of depth and brilliance of color, gloss, clarity, and definition of image which emanate from a vehicle Jason has finished.
While there were many highlights to the extended weekend of training, one stood head and shoulders above the rest. And, it is something that anyone who speaks with Jason can detect after a few sentences– his passion for discussion and teaching the intricacies of perfecting painted surfaces. Jason’s finely honed sanding and polishing skills, coupled with knowledge as a former painter, and an unrelenting pursuit for paint glowing perfection, have put him in VERY elite company. It is his drive, patience, and enthusiasm to teach that is Jason greatest calling, beyond the work he does on the rarest of vehicles.
Before any teaching occurs Jason spends some time speaking with and getting to know his students, one on one, to explore their sanding and polishing backgrounds as well as their personalities. This allows him to identify his student’s skills, what they wish to gain out of instruction. Positive interaction and understanding of a student’s personality and background can be quite important when training 10-14 hours straight with someone for 1-4 days.
Topics and Procedures covered (but not limited to):
An introduction and explanation of the need, processes, and applications of sanding automotive paint.
Block Selection Theory – Explanation of how differing block compositions, shapes, and sizes affect the sanding process especially pertaining to different panel shapes. Paper Grit Theory – Covers the use of grits in conjunction with the specific defects and paint types being worked on.
Paint Theory – Covers how to effectively sand and buff by A] leaving factory texture in the surface or B] possibly removing the texture with the least invasive procedures. Show Car Paint Theory – Covers how to effectively and efficiently wet sand paint to the desired level of perfection based on paint factors. How to determine when coarse grit sanding marks have been completely refined by finer grit paper. Demonstrations and explanations of time-tested techniques for minimally removing defects on OEM paint. Removing sanding marks with a Rotary or DA polisher.
Process of selecting the correct compounds and polishes.
When speaking to Jason about this past work, he is completely humble and overly modest. He prefers the results of his work to speak for him. To the annoyance of his peers and admirers, he does not even have much of a web presence for displaying his work as one might assume. (We ALL hope he changes that soon!) However, he keeps MANY binders brimming over with photos, magazine covers, and articles of most of the past work he has finished. He has dedicated most of his life to color sanding some of the most spectacular custom cars in the world. Unfortunately, most of these pictures cannot be found on the internet.
Because he has touched so many award-winning and one of a kind automotive beauties, with little to no fanfare; I began to call Jason Killmer: The Phantom Polisher.
However, Jason does have a little wall of his work that he takes great pride in. The following are only a few of the many vehicles he has worked on. These vehicles have been a cut above the rest in some of the most prestigious car shows and events in the world. Please take a few moments to admire these distinctive beauties for their flawless and complex surfaces; just as the judges did at their respective events:
Ferrambo 1960 Nash rambler Ridler Award Winner: 2008
1953 Siata 208 CS Spyder Pebble Beach Class Winner and Runner-up best in Show: 2009
Absolute Madness 1934 Ford Pirelli Great 8 Finalist: 2010 And many best paint and engine awards.
Checkered Past 1940 Ford Coupe Pirelli Great 8 Finalist & Ridler Award Winner: 2013
Jason designs and handcrafts custom sanding blocks for all color sanding needs. Sanding blocks are the basis for all wet sanding work, since they help the paper to fully engage the surface no matter the curvature of shape of the panel. That being said, Jason’s unofficial hobby of ALWAYS finding & making sanding blocks out of off the wall materials has turned into an industry leading product line. JK Sanding Blocks are offered in a few sets of standardized sizes which cover the majority of typical sanding needs. However, Jason designs custom blocks for all needs. Chances are, whatever the space, no matter how big or small, Jason has sanded it and can design a block to effectively tackle that space!
© Christopher Brown of OCDCarCare Los Angeles – OCDCarCare.com – 2014
For more informative articles regarding: auto detailing, paint correction, detailing training, technique discussions, and many other things car care related please browse: OCDCarCare Los Angeles’s Detailing Article Archive.
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