Micro-Mesh Kit Review
|Date of First Look||July 2004||Manufacturer||Micro-Surface Finishing Products, Inc.|
|Subject||Micro-Mesh Craft Kits||Primary Media||Special sanding cloths, foam sanding pads|
|Pros||Unbelievable results with little effort||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$10.95|
A few months ago, I happened upon a review of a product called Micro-Mesh in one of the hobby magazines. Many of you, especially the car modelers are no-doubt wondering where I've been hiding, not knowing about Micro-Mesh. I popped over to their website, left my name and address in their guest log, and the next thing I know, I get a sample sanding pad and sanding cloth in the mail.
According to the literature and their website, this stuff was made to polish paint, remove scratches and, best of all, work under water. Those of us who've been using sanding sticks from other manufacturers know that it doesn't take long for the sticks to delaminate after several sessions of wet-sanding. Will this stuff work any better?
I was in the process of painting the AMtech Ju 88H-4 and decided to test the sanding cloth on a painted wing. As you know, if you shoot acrylic or enamel flat paints, you normally have to buff the roughness down and still shoot a coat of Future to get a smooth enough surface to decal without silvering under the dried decals. The grit of the sample sanding cloth was 3600, so I gently wet-sanded the surface and it was as smooth as a gloss coat! There might be something useful here for aircraft modelers too!
I took the liberty of ordering a couple of Micro-Surface's Craft Kits, which include a complete set of their pads, some coarser sanding sticks, and a polishing compound with a flannel polishing cloth. The pads are a few inches square and have sanding sufaces on both sides. Ditto on the sanding sticks.
The three sanding sticks included in the set have different grits on each side. The first stick is 100 grit, the other side 150. The second stick is 180/240 grit, and the third 400/600 grit. The nine sanding pads have the same grit on both sides and the grit steps are 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, and 12000.
Two immediate applications came to mind. One is preparing the surface of a model for Alclad or SNJ (bare metal surfaces) to ensure that no scratches remain after assembly. The other is dealing with those annoying Hasegawa (and others) canopies like the ones in the 1/32 F-16 or F/A-18 kits. In these, there is a mold line right down the middle of the canopy, and I've seen where folks have done their best to buff out the scratches left over from sanding off the mold line, even after dipping the 'finished' canopy in Future.
I decided for this experiment to pull the F-16 canopy from my unassembled kit and use it as a guinea pig. The fact that I'm even admitting this means that there is a happy ending here. I used the 100 grit sanding stick to remove the seam line. This was overkill, but I wanted to see how well this system works. Here is a shot of the canopy after the scratches have been buffed down to the 600 grit sanding sticks.
Next I buffed the scratches with each step of the sanding pads through 12000. The canopy was almost perfectly clear and there were no visible scratches. I applied a little of the liquid polishing compound with the flannel cloth and the results were immediate and striking. You can see in this photo that the canopy is almost perfect. I say almost since I didn't notice that there is a spot next to my thumb that needs a bit more polishing. Nevertheless, if you compare this with the visible seam in the first shot and the degree of sanding abrasions in the second, you can see the difference that this product makes!
If you do this system with your paint jobs as well, you can be certain of never seeing silver under your decals again. Automotive finishes and bare metal subjects won't ever be the headaches we've dreaded in the past. When you factor this with the cost of the polishing kit, you've spent more on just a few sanding sticks elsewhere!
Micro-Surface was also kind enough to send a package of their sanding cloths. These come in the same grit steps of the sanding pads, but for some applications, I find that the sanding cloths are easier to work with than the pads, and they even provide a sanding foam block to give you the best of both worlds.
If you stop by their website (www.micro-surface.com), you can see the varieties of finishing kits they have available. If you register on their site, they'll not only send you a sample cloth and pad like they did for me, they'll also give you access to their instruction and technique library that will show you how to use this stuff on your boat, one-scale aircraft, car, or even furniture!
My sincere thanks to Micro-Surface for the sanding cloth pack!