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    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips



    Should have written this years ago.... I'm going to try to keep the below as simple as possible so please read through it because it's important that you know what you're getting into when you make the jump from working by hand to working by machine.




    First - You need and want an orbital polisher

    if you're new to car detailing, perhaps you just purchased your first car or at least the first car you had any desire to take care of, then youj're going to need and want an orbital polisher.

    Why?

    Because the clearcoat finish on your car is hard enough that >you< with your hand and arm muscle are NOT going to be able to rub a compound, polish or cleaner/wax hard enough, fast enough and long enough to a SMALL area to effectively remove the swirls and scratches while at the same time leaving the paint looking great.

    Clearcoats are scratch-sensitive. This means even though they are hard, they scratch very easily. So if you're a strong person with a lot of energy and you could rub a compound, polish or cleaner/wax hard enough, fast enough and long enough to a SMALL area to remove the swirls and scratches without at the same time putting in swrils and scratches due to a lack of experience and technique, you still wouldn't be able to do en entire car. It's simply too overwhelming.


    I've been typing out articles on how-to remove swirls and scratches documented since 1994. That's 23 years. And that's just typing how to do. Been teaching people in person even longer. So please take my word for it... you need at a minimum what I call as simple or entry level orbital polisher.

    My recommendation?

    Get the Griot's Garage 6" DA Orbital Polisher. This one,

    Griot's Garage 6" ROP - Standard cord

    Griots Garage 6 Inch Heavy Duty Random Orbital Polisher - HD Cord - 25' Heavy Duty Cord already pre-wired






    Why?

    Because it's the best bang for the buck. There are cheaper polishers on the market but not better polishers for the value of your dollar plus Griot's backs this tool with a lifetime warranty. It also has all the power you'll need to take care of your own car or cars and for some of you, you could even detail cars for money with this tool.




    Second - You're going to need a 5" backing plate and some 5.5" buffing pads.

    The Griot's polisher comes with a 6" backing plate and you can get 6.5" pads and use it if you want. But again, from experience what works better unless you're buffing out big flat RVs is a 5" backing plate and 5.5" buffing pads.

    I'm not going to try to convise you on this point you can take my word for it or not. If you want to simpmly trust me, then here's the links to two great backing plates, both will bolt on to the free floating spindle bearing on this tool.



    purchase your polisher from Autogeek or not, here's what you'll need to buff out a car....


    5" Backing plates


    Lake Country 5" Backing Plate

    Griots Garage 5 Inch Vented Orbital Backing Plate



    Third - You're going to need some buffing pads

    Most our kits or any kit you purchase anywhere only comes with a few pads. That's to get you STARTED. That is NOT how many pads it takes to buff out a car.

    As a rule of thumb if you need to remove swirls and scratches and you're going to use a compound or a one-step cleaner/wax over the entire car, then you want 1 pad per panel

    An example of a pane is a hood, or a door or a fender.

    So the average 2-dor car has 9 panels.

    1. Hood
    2. Roof
    3. Trunk lid
    4. Driver's side front fender
    5. Driver's side door
    6. Driver's side rear fender
    7. Passenger side front fender
    8. Passenger side door
    9. Passenger side rear fender



    Of course you can purchase less pads and still get the job done but here's the deal. As you work around the car a foam buffing pad is going to become soggy as it becomes saturated with the liquid compound or liquid cleaner/wax. As the foam becomes soggy or wet, it stops working good. Heck it stops working great. You can keep going though if that's what your budget allows for and push through the job and punish the pad.

    That said, a clean DRY pads works best. Works fastest and enables you to do your best work faster. So what is your time worth?

    At a minimum, figure

    5-6 foam cutting pads for the compounding step
    3-4 pads for the polishing step
    1 pad if you want to machine wax after compounding and polishing


    If you're going to use a one-step cleaner/wax you don't normally want to use a foam cutting pad as the sharpness of the foam can leave a shadow effect which is actually micro-marring. Micro-marring is a nice way to say scratching. You can use foam cutting pads and I know some detailers do but I'm typing this article for newbies and I want to keep you safe.

    So for a one-step cleaner/wax, I'd recommend getting a minimum of 5-6 foam polishing pads. And of course when using a one-step cleaner/wax you're done after the first and only step so you don't need more pads.




    Foam pads versus microfiber pads

    Below is a list of 5.5" foam pads and 5.5" microfiber pads. Here's the primary difference if you're new to machine polishing and don't know which style of pad to go with.

    You can quote me on this statement,

    When comparing foam pads to microfiber pads, foam pads will finish out nicer and more consistently on a wider spectrum of paint systems - Mike Phillips


    What this means is, cars have paint on them. The paint comes from a paint manufacturer. There are about a dozen paint manufacturers that provide paint to car manufacturers and the re-finishing industry. (re-finishing industry is the local body shop or dealership that fixes the dents in your car and sprays fresh paint on the repaired area so it matches the rest of the car.

    Paint systems are not only different in their hardness and softness, or what I like to call polishability, but paints are ALWAYS changing. So there's no simple way to know if the paint you're buffing on is hard or soft without testing and experience, (I cover this in my how to book on page 7)

    So when I say, that foam pads will finish out nicer and more consistently on a wide spectrum of paint systems that means

    A: For the finishing step, not the compounding step. (look at what I wrote)

    B: I used the words wide spectrum because thousands of people will read this and then be buffing on a car somewhere and it will have a "paint system" on it and none of us except the person buffing on this car will know if the paint is hard, soft or somewhere in-between.


    Fibers are a form of abrasive
    Just like the headline reads, fibers are form of abrasive. A gentle abrasive in most cases but an abrasive all the same. If you put a wool cutting pad on a rotary buffer and then buff on some black paint with some baby oil, after you strip the paint of the baby oil and look at the paint there will be hologram swirl scratches in the paint. They will not have come from the baby oil or the tool, so what put the scratches into the paint? Answer. The fibers that make up the wool pad.

    You can extrapolate this out to microfiber pads for orbital polishers. While for some paints, (harder paints), you can both compound and finish out with a fiber/microfiber pad, for other paints, (softer paints), you can compound with a microfiber pad and remove defects but the fibers that make up the pad can and will leave a scratch pattern called micro-marring. That's okay if you do a follow-up step after compounding and re-polish the paint but if you're seeing micro-marring from a microfiber pad then you'll have a high chance of finishing out without micro-marring if you switch over to a foam pad.

    And the above explanation is what I mean when I say,


    "When comparing foam pads to microfiber pads, foam pads will finish out nicer and more consistently on a sider spectrum of paint systems"


    Of course, you never know what you can do until you try.... and then inspect the results. And when inspecting, to measure the true and accurate results you'll need to chemically strip the paint and inspect with a quality swirl finder light or bright overhead sunlight.



    Car Detailing History 101

    To help understand the history of microfiber pads and when and why they were introduced into the car detailing world, I like to use the Meguiar's Microfiber DA Correction System as an analogy.


    Meguiar's introduced this system to change the production detailing industry by getting rid of the universally abused rotary buffer. The production detailing industry uses the rotary buffer for SPEED, not quality. The problem with the rotary buffer is that all to often it leaves the paint filled with holograms.

    Holograms = a circular scratch pattern IN the paint caused by the single rotating action of the buffing pad on a rotary buffer.

    Holograms mimic the pattern a rotary buffer is moved over the paint. Holograms is a SPECFIC type of scratch pattern only inflicted into paint by rotary buffers, not orbital polishers. Orbital polishers can instill micro-marring and a visible pattern of how an orbital buffer was moved over the paint can be seen on darker colors but this pattern is NOT called holograms. You can call it buffer trails, or buffer haze or buffer shadows, or buffer patterns but it is NOT called holograms.

    The idea was to replace the rotary buffer with a free spinning orbital polisher from Meguiar's called the G100 which was a copy of the Porter Cable 7424 orbital polisher, and then later the MT300, which offers the same 8mm orbit stroke length has the G100 (or the Porter Cable), but has a longer body than the G100. (same 8mm free spinning orbital polishing action)

    To make up for the loss of direct drive power and speed offered by the rotary buffer, Meguiar's incorporated a microfiber pad or a FIBER pad to assist in faster defect removal. Or you could say this as faster PAINT REMOVAL as removing defects is actually removing paint to level the surface, that is level the surface with the lowest depths of the defects you're trying to remove to create a visually flat and also visually perfect finish. The fibers act as a form of abrasives and aid the actual abrasives in compounds and polishes.


    The downside of increasing the aggressiveness or cutting ability of an orbital polisher by introducing a microfiber pad is the risk of introducing micro-marring when the fibers instill their own scratch pattern into some paints, typically softer paints. This tradeoff is considered a net gain as compared to having the detailing industry inflict every car buffed out with a rotary buffer with hologram scratches.


    The above is an attempt to explain not only why there are microfiber pads on the market but where they fit into the car detailing or car buffing processes.


    Foam pads reduce the risk of micro-marring because they offer a uniform texture of the entire face of the pad, not individual fibers, or loops of fibers in the case of some brands of microfiber pads.

    You won't know if a microfiber pad will induce micro-marring into the paint of any car you are going to buff out until you do a Test Spot. One option for detailers that want increased cutting from any free spinning orbital polishers is to START with microfiber pads for the compounding or cutting step but finish with foam pad.


    Besides pads, abrasive technology is a HUGE factor as to whether you will see micro-marring or not no matter what type of pad you use. This is why I believe the most important factor when buffing out a car is the abrasive technology, not a person's technique, not the tool or the pad. It all starts with the substance TOUCHING the paint and in the car detailing world this would include,


    1. Compounds
    2. Polishes
    3. Cleaner/waxes --> most cleaner/waxes, or cleaner/sealants contain some form of abrasive technology like compounds and polishes and this is why I include them in this group of substances that touch the paint.





    Pad options on Autogeek.com



    Foam pads

    Here is a list of foam pad options available on Autogeek.com that will fit the above listed 5" backing plates


    Foam pads

    Here is a list of foam pad options available on Autogeek.com that will fit the above listed 5" backing plates



    Lake Country Pad Manufacturing

    Lake Country 5.5" Flat pads <-- Simplest pads available, makes these bubba-proof

    CCS Smart Pads™ Dual Action 5.5 Inch Foam Pads by Lake Country

    Lake Country ThinPro Foam Pad System 5.5 Inch

    Lake Country 5.5 Inch HDO Foam Pads




    Buff and Shine Pad Manufacturing

    6 inch Buff and Shine Uro-Cell Pads

    6 Inch Buff & Shine Uro-Tec Foam Pads

    Buff and Shine 5.5 Inch Flat Foam Pads

    Buff & Shine Low-Pro Large Throw Foam Pads 5.5 Inch



    Griot's Garage foam pad options

    5.5 Inch BOSS Pads

    Griots Garage 5.5 inch Orange Foam Correcting Pad

    Griots Garage 5.5 inch Black Foam Finishing Pad

    Griots Garage 5.5 inch Red Foam Waxing Pad



    Meguiar's foam pad options

    Meguiars 5 Inch DA Foam Discs



    RUPES foam pad options

    RUPES 150 mm (6 inch) Foam Pads

    RUPES 150mm (6 Inch) UHS Foam Pad





    Microfiber pads

    Here is a list of microfiber pad options available on Autogeek.com that will fit the above listed 5" backing plates


    Lake Country

    5 1/4 Inch Microfiber Cutting Pads - 2 Pack

    5 1/2 Inch Microfiber Polishing Pad - 2 Pack



    Buff and Shine

    5 inch Buff and Shine Uro-Fiber Pads



    Meguiar's

    Meguiars DMC5 DA Microfiber Cutting Discs - 5 inches

    Meguiars DMF5 DA Microfiber Finishing Discs - 5 Inches



    Griot's

    Griots Garage 5 inch Micro Fiber FAST Cutting Pad

    Griots Garage 5.5 Inch Micro Fiber FAST Finishing Pad



    RUPES

    RUPES 150mm (6 Inch) Blue Microfiber Cutting Pad - 2 Pack

    RUPES 150 mm (6 Inch) Yellow Microfiber Finishing Pad - 2 Pack






    Fourth - You're going to need some products

    By the word products I mean you're going to need some products to buff on and over the paint. Here's the normal types of products used to buff on car paint.


    Compound - Aggressive product that will remove deeper swirls, scratches and water spots as well as severe oxidation.


    Polish - There are three categories of polishes, but the key thing is, polishes are not as aggressive as true compounds. There are Medium Cut, Fine Cut and Ultra Fine Cut polishes on the market today. Having these options lets you choose and use the right level of cut for what you're working on. Some companies are REALLY GOOD at labeling their products to tell you which category they are in and some company's kind of let you figure it out on your own. That's where this forum can come in handy as myself or one of our great forum members can always answer your questions about compounds and polishes.


    Cleaner/wax - This is a product that will do three things in one step.

    1. Clean or compound
    2. Polish
    3. Protect



    There are some amazing cleaner/waxes on the market today and also a boat load of really lousy products.


    AIO - An AIO is simply a cleaner/wax with the name AIO. I have no idea why some people like to call a cleaner/wax an AIO it's all just silliness to me but have at it.



    Non-cleaning wax
    A non-cleaning wax is what I call a true show car wax. A non-cleaning wax is just that, it does NOT contain any chemical cleaners or abrasives in it to abrade the paint and remove defects. It is solely for the purpose of providing protection and beauty to paint that is ALREADY in great condition.


    For example,

    If you purchased the above polisher, some pads and a quality compound and a quality polish, AFTER you compound and polish the paint you would NOT want to use a cleaner/wax as that's called working backwards, you're kind of going back to the compounding or polishing step since a quality cleaner/wax is able to remove defects using abrasives.

    Instead, what you want is a NON-cleaning wax. The cleaning or abrading process has already been performed by the compounding and polishing step, now you just want pure protection and beauty. And of course there are also non-cleaning synthetic paint sealants and also non-cleaning ceramic coatings. Pick your poison but the big picture is to choose something besides a cleaner/wax.





    Fifth - You're going to need lots of high quality microfiber towels.

    Hey - after you machine apply a compound, polish, wax or cleaner/wax you're going to need some towels to wipe off the residue. Use good towels and take care of them and they are like tools, invest in good tools. Use crappy towels and don't take care of them then each time you wipe your car's paint with the crappy towel you'll put scratches back in.


    Click the link below and watch the video, look at the pictures and read the text...


    How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars


    Then order at least a 12 pack of these and do like I say in the above article to take care of them and inspect them before use.



    Gold Plush Jr. Microfiber Towels - 12 Pack


    That will be a good start. They key is to wash and dry them correctly and just as important, have a DEDICATED laundry hamper in your garage THAT'S CLEAN (on the inside) to throw your dirty towels as you work around your car and then after washing and drying have a CLEAN place to store your towels so they don't become contaminated.



    The above is a really the minimum of what I call head knowledge that you need to know to make the transition from working by hand to working by machine SAFELY on your new car.


    Below I'll post a video that will show how even a newbie can get professional results their very first time.


    Also, if you're reading this thread and you're a lurker, that means you're not a member, then do yourself a HUGE favor and click the link below and join this forum. This forum will always be your most powerful tool in your car detailing arsenal or tool chest.



    Click here to join the AutogeekOnline Detailing Discussion Forum





    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member
    CD-SV, RT
    Mike Phillips Facebook Page
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  3. #2
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Sit back, relax and watch this video. This video will explain all the concepts and techniques you need to know in order to safely and correctly buff uot your car.

    The video shows the Porter Cable 7424XP but the Griot's 6" DA is basically a more powerful version of the Porter Cable tool.







    Then read these articles. I'd highly recommend reading the first one before starting and avoid all the common mistakes most people make when first starting out by getting HEAD KNOWLEDGE FIRST.



    DA Polisher Trouble Shooting Guide


    Video: Mark your backing plate to make it easy to see pad rotation


    Downward Pressure....What is "Moderate"? --> another guy started this thread by the actual "how-to" information is something I wrote back in 2004 --> original source

    How to divide larger body panels into smaller sections for machine buffing


    How To Do a Test Spot





    Mike Phillips
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  5. #3
    Senior Member Aaryn NZ's Avatar
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Really nice article Mike.

    A fantastic read whilst I have my breakfast on a chilly -3c morning, & one (of many) I know will come in handy as I have started the search for staff at the shop.

    Articles like this can only help me, & whomever I put my faith in.

    Great work Mike, thank you.

    Aaryn NZ.
    a DETAILS Blenheim New Zealand - IDA Member - C.Quartz Finest Authorized Installer

  6. #4
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaryn NZ View Post
    Really nice article Mike.

    A fantastic read whilst I have my breakfast on a chilly -3c morning, & one (of many) I know will come in handy as I have started the search for staff at the shop.

    Articles like this can only help me, & whomever I put my faith in.

    Great work Mike, thank you.

    Aaryn NZ.

    Thanks bud...

    Hope all is well in New Zealand!



    Mike Phillips
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  7. #5
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Hey Mike,

    I've been a lurker for a while. Thanks for everything you do and sharing your many years of experience with us. I've learned a lot about what I have been doing wrong these past 10 years and learned some new tips and tricks.

    Quick question, what would be a good starter compound, polish and wax for someone just starting off? Meguiar's Ultimate? Griot's garage system?

  8. #6
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by maclifton1126 View Post

    Hey Mike,

    I've been a lurker for a while.

    Thanks for everything you do and sharing your many years of experience with us.

    I've learned a lot about what I have been doing wrong these past 10 years and learned some new tips and tricks.

    Thank you for joining our forum and thank you for the kind words.

    Without even trying I've ended up making a career out of helping other people learn how to detail cars... for whatever that's worth?




    Quote Originally Posted by maclifton1126 View Post

    Quick question, what would be a good starter compound, polish and wax for someone just starting off?

    Meguiar's Ultimate? Griot's garage system?
    Both are good. The Meguiar's Ultimate Compound and Ultimate Polish are great products, I have an article on their history here,


    Meguiar's Ultimate Compound History


    Meguiar's Ultimate Compound and SwirlX








    Jeff Brown is the key Griot's guy behind the development of the Griot's BOSS System. I worked with Jeff when we were both working for Meguiar's. So now days, when you buy Griot's you can be assured the products in the bottle are going to perform as advertised because Jeff Brown is the real deal.


    I usually find out if a person is already a "Meguiar's Guy" or a "Griot's Guys" and then steer them in that direction but seriously, you can go wrong with either of the lines you listed. I find M205 to be a tick to finicky on softer paints to feel comfortable recommending it to newbies when there are so many other fine cut polishes that simply don't care what kind of paint you use them on and the results are great as well as consisten across paint system.


    Hope the above helps... sorry for any delay in finding your post and then replying to it... there's always more to do here at Autogeek than there is time to do it. That's a good problem to have...


    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  9. #7
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Mike, i have a PC and Uro-cell pads, is this a good combo???

    Sent from my B1-750 using Autogeekonline mobile app

  10. #8
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by Detallado Faraon View Post
    Mike, i have a PC and Uro-cell pads, is this a good combo???

    Sent from my B1-750 using Autogeekonline mobile app
    As long as you can maintain pad rotation while,

    Compounding

    Polishing

    Using a one-step cleaner/wax.

    Put a mark on the backing plate to make it easy for your eyes to monitor pad rotation.

    When it comes to free-spinning Orbital Polishers - it's all about pad rotation.

    No pad rotation = no defect removal.

    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  11. #9
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    ***Bump***


    Bump for anyone new to car detailing and still working by hand. The first article is loaded with info to help you make the jump from working by hand to working by machine.



    These are good reads too...

    How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars


    Clearcoats are thin by Mike Phillips



    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member
    CD-SV, RT
    Mike Phillips Facebook Page
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  13. #10
    Senior Member Aaryn NZ's Avatar
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    Re: Here's what you need to get into machine polishing - Recommendations for a beginner by Mike Phillips

    Two very useful & informative articles, thank you Mike.

    I especially like the Clearcoats are thin by Mike Phillips Article & am always referring to information learnt from this thread & relaying this to my customers.

    The truth shocks people, period. I know we know but for Joe Bloggs who doesn't know alot about cars, paint etc, being told how little paint/clear coat we have to work with is an eye opener for most. I guess it shouldn't shock me all that much but I swear some people believe that the paint on their vehicle is infinite. I have even had a principal of a car dealership tell me once that buffing a car numerous times won't affect the integrity of the paintwork . . . yeah, I don't do work for him.

    Great articles Mike & good for sure.

    Aaryn NZ.
    a DETAILS Blenheim New Zealand - IDA Member - C.Quartz Finest Authorized Installer

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