Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Oviedo, Florida
Bikes: 2009 Bianchi Roadie,1977 Columbia Roadie, Marin Muirwoods 29er, Trek 830, Centurion LeMans, Rans V-Rex
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Carbon Fiber is a composite material. That means two or more different things put together to get something better than any of the individual components. Most carbon fiber has an outer layer of epoxy resin, which encases the carbon fiber cloth. When you sand down to the cloth, you are not removing a finish, you are removing a layer of the structure itself. This layer may also have a clear coat of extra coat of resin on it to give a nicer looking finish, but once you hit cloth, you are into the structure itself for sure. Removing material down to the cloth, and then simply painting with a clear coat compromises the structural integrity of the part.
I've spent the last year on the build team of a racing aircraft, doing a fair amount of carbon fiber and fiberglass modifications to it. Once we hit cloth, it is time to do a repair, not a refinish to the area where the cloth was damaged. You didn't state why you wanted to strip the part...if it's for a finish, then handsanding to avoid getting into the cloth. In my world, we lay another layer of resin on top of a light sanding to give more to work with if we need to level a surface. We also use an epoxy two part paint or clear on top of the finished piece to create a display surface. Whatever you do, don't go down to the cloth unless you plan to repair the structural matrix of the part itself.