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24 comments on How much product do you put on the pad? Do you prime it?

  1. Jon says:

    Ivan –

    Great post! Thank you very much!

    It was nice you gave your ‘helper’ that slight bit of credit.

    Curiously, how does one identify a diminishing abrasive vs not? Are Menzerna polishes generally considered diminishing abrasives? Are Meguiars generally non-diminshing?


  2. Diego Coppola says:

    Great write up! One question, how do you know if the product you’re using uses diminishing or non-diminishing abrasives?

  3. Ivan Rajic says:

    Thanks Jon and Diego.

    The easy answer to your question is to simply ask the manufacturer what product is diminishing and which is not. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell unless you have extensive experience with all different types of polishes, and even if you do you’d need to do quite a bit of testing with any given polish to check which kind it is.

    Generally, most polishes available are diminishing abrasives, but there’s not really a specific manufacturer, like Meguiar’s, producing one or the other. Meguiar’s, for example, has both types of polishes, so as I said above, best is to simply ask the manufacturer on the type of polish and their recommendation on how to use it.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Diego Coppola says:

    Thanks for your help. Do you think a review of the FLEX 3401 is in the near future? 🙂 I use one and i think a review would show people how great of a machine it is .

    • Ivan Rajic says:

      Funny you mention it since I’m actually working on it right now. Should be done sometime this month, so keep an eye out for it in the near future.

      • Jon says:

        This might be a bit much, but would you consider posting a YouTube video of your Flex 3401 implementation?

        • Ivan Rajic says:


          What exactly did you want to see in a video? A video is definitely not out of the question so I will surely consider it if I’m able to use a good camera at the time, but I’d like to know exactly what you’d like to get out of such a video.


  5. Jack says:

    Great posts Ivan! and in regards to the video question, I think it’s always nice to see how much product you put on the pad, the length and width of the area being polished, how much pressure applied, arm speed, patterns, and of course, before/after.

    I know you covered some of these in past posts, but to incorporate it all into a single video would make a very helpful polishing tutorial, even for a Porter Cable.

    • Ivan Rajic says:

      Makes perfect sense Jack. I’m in the process of learning or trying to learn how to record better quality videos, so that will definitely be on the to do list. Thanks

  6. Ernesto says:

    Hi Ivan,

    thank you for the post, it’s most informative. I just have a bit of question about the diminishing abrasive.
    I started to try and detail my own car recently, and just got a rotary (I practice with my mom’s car – a beater). I found that when I use the Menz SF 4500, it seems that three beads is not enough. When I tried it, the pad kind of squeaks, and I’m a little worried that it’ll do something bad (I tried touching the paint surface, and it’s quite hot).

    I use a Hitachi, and start at 600 RPMs, but the squeaks start when I try to raise the speed (around 900 RPMs). I found that if I primed the pad first, just like the non-diminishing abrasive sample you gave, it doesn’t squeak. The result is kind of good – the car’s metallic gray, so maybe I don’t see the swirls quite well though.

    Am I doing something wrong? For your info, I live in Indonesia, where the temperature is quite high. I don’t have a proper garage, just a carport.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Ivan Rajic says:

      Hi Ernesto,

      Happy to see some international readers!

      To answer your question:

      Since you’re new to a rotary polisher, you have quite a ways to go before figuring out all the little tips and tricks. First of all, I would highly recommend a different polish for a first time rotary user. Menz SF 4500 is a polish that does take a bit of skill and experience to use, because you can easily apply too much or too little and wrestle with the polisher for hours. That said, I would suggest maybe a lighter Meguiar’s polish, something like Meguiar’s Speed Glaze M80. It’s hard to explain how the SF 4500 is harder to use than the M80 until you experiment with both of them with the same machine and pad and at the same speeds. SF 4500 can cause the rotary polisher to pull you around quite easily if you apply too much or too little, whereas the M80 is a bit more user friendly. Hope that makes sense.

      Also, another good idea for a novice rotary operator is to apply just a bit more polish than necessary in order to have more time to work with it and make it easier to learn the machine.

      As for if you’re doing something wrong… well, to be frank you may as well be. You may be moving way too slow so the polish gets “used up” quicker than it would at normal arm speeds, all of which would result in paint getting quite hot. At the same time, you may simply be working in very hot temperatures where any polishing will heat up the paint fairly quickly.

      I will be working on a rotary polishing tutorial in the near future for the blog, but in the meantime I would suggest simply viewing some of the other articles here regarding rotary polishing as well as watching some YouTube videos from trusted sources.

      Hope that helps a bit Ernesto!

      • Ernesto says:

        Hi Ivan,

        thank you so much for the quick reply! I didn’t know that the SF 4500 needs a bit more experience in using – I got it after reading the reviews (including one here at Detailed Image), especially the part where it’s friendly on soft paint.

        My car’s a 2010 Honda with metallic black paint. I tend to think that the paint can get swirls just by looking at it. I used the two bucket method with grit guards to wash it, dried it carefully (or at least I think I did), and yet still got swirls. I want it to look nice, and that’s what made me pick the SF 4500. But if it’s easier, I’ll give the M80 a shot and see how it goes.

        So far, my knowledge for detailing comes mostly from the web, and also from trial and error. Luckily, I got my mom’s car to practice on. 😀

        I really look forward to your rotary tutorial, and again, thank you very much for the great info!

  7. Todd S. says:

    Ivan – Great briefing on pad priming!

    Few questions if you don’t mind.

    1. What is a standard practice for using “ALL” Menzerna compounds or polishes on pads? Should pads be primed using the “KBM” or not for Menzerna products. There can be some confusion on when to prime or NOT to prime with diminishing or non-diminishing products. Or is this really personal preference?

    2. Should one “mist” the pad if no priming is done prior to applying three pea sized product on the pad?

    Thanks for your assistance.

    • Ivan Rajic says:

      Hi Todd,

      Thanks for the great comments. To answer your questions…

      1. From my experience, priming pads with Menzerna polishes really shouldn’t be done, especially with the finer polishes, because most have pretty long work times. This means that if you prime the pad, you’re looking at not only polishing the section for much longer than necessary, but also risk gumming up the pad too quickly, which can results in poor polishing results as well as make the machine very hard to control. I typically prime pads only when doing correction work and only when working with Meguiar’s polishes like M105, D300 and M205. If I’m using M205 as a finishing polish I usually won’t prime it but will put on a bit extra polish on the initial pass. Long story short, I think it can be greatly influenced by personal preference and experience, so I would recommend trying it both ways and seeing what works better for you.

      2. I was never a fan of misting pads but many have had great results, so it may be another thing to try and see for yourself.

      I apologize for the indecisive answers, but the topics in question are definitely quite subjective so I can only tell you my preference.

      Hope that helps bud, thanks!

  8. Tom says:

    Hey Ivan,

    I’m familiar with using the PC 7424XP with Meg’s M105/M205. However, I’m going to tackle my brother’s black car this weekend and bought some SF 4500 polish. I’m glad I came across this article because I was ready to prime the heck out of my pad with the SF 4500. I would have been polishing for hours. =/

    I had a weird thought. Why do we need to use less of diminishing abrasive polishes? It sounds counter-intuitive to use less of something that naturally breaks down. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?


    • Ivan Rajic says:

      Hi Tom,

      Typically, the diminishing abrasives take time to break down from larger to smaller, which is why the work time is quite long (at least compared to non-diminishing abrasives). During this time, the polish needs its own “lube” in order to not marr up the paint with the larger abrasives and also to allow easier application, especially via a rotary polisher.

      So in other words, yes I agree how it may sound counter-intuitive at first, but as you can see, polishes with diminishing abrasives need time to break down and refine the finish, so the more of it you use the longer you need to work at breaking it down. This now becomes counter-intuitive, at least in terms of efficiency, so you must use less.

      You can even do a test on a black car with the SF 4500 polish if you get a chance. Simply put some on the pad (3-4 dime sized drops) and polish a small section by doing only 3 passes (1 to spread it at a slow speed (2-3), and 2 passes at speed 5 or 6. Then, do the same exact thing on a section next to it but do 5-6 passes and compare the finish. If the paint is a typical,soft black paint, you should notice how much better the finish is after 5-6 passes as compared to only 2-3.

      On the other hand, the non-diminishing abrasives kind of follow the rule “it is what it is”. So generally you can do 2 or 6 passes and leave the finish looking just about the same. With the non-dim abrasives you can use pressure and pad abrasiveness to your advantage and be able to get different results with the same polish/pad/speed combo. For both kinds of polishes though, you don’t want to polish for too long as you might end up “dry polishing” and definitely marr the paint.

      Hope that helps!

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  10. j.scarver says:

    What I really like about all of you guys is how detailed and thorough you are with your presentations, leaving nothing to chance or misunderstanding. Even down to the excellent photography which illustrates your points “down to the T.” On top of all that, you are some really nice guys who encourage novices and show a passion for your vocation. Thanks for the good advice and help you give, and keep up the good work.

  11. Larry B. says:

    New here. Have you done the tutorial or video on the Flex 3401 yet?

    • Ivan Rajic says:

      I have yet to do this but will try to find time asap. I am currently booked with detail work until well into June, so time for thorough video tutorials is very tight as you can imagine. I’ll be posting it up here as soon as I get it done.

  12. Chrissy says:

    e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.

  13. Milagro says:

    I like to write a little comment to

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