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Polishing with a Porter Cable: Hand positioning


So you have been watching the videos online, watched your old detailer move the machine around, but dont quite know how to hold it in specific situations…Here are just a couple positions and tips to use the next time you are using the porter cable 7424xp (pictures are with a different DA machine, very similar to the PCXP)

On a vertical panel, its harder to keep the machine flat and even with the panel.  Sometimes you can tilt the pad too much and lose its effectiveness, or you can get tired rather quickly by the awkward angles you think you have to hold the machine at.  Well, truth be told, the machine is going to spin the same whether its upright, sideways, or upside down!  The polish will break down the same, then speed will stay constant, and the results will still be achieved no matter the position of the machine.

With that said, what can change to make the polishing experience easier on the user?  HAND POSITIONING while holding the machine.  This is a very important issue to be aware of because it can be the difference between being able to move your arms and use your hands later that night, or not being able to move for a day!  The machine will give your arms a work out while using it as it vibrates and you put variable pressure on it.  The more pressure on the machine, the more stress your hands, wrists, arms, core, and back see.  The next couple of photos deal with the wrists and the hands more so.

In this photo, you can see how my hands are not at a 6/12 position, but rather at a 10/4 position.  This is a much more comfortable setting and more natural since my shoulders aren’t in a straight up and down line (that would look pretty funny).  This way, I don’t have to twist my arms and shoulders inward as much, which relieves back pressure.  All the while, my hands are simply more straight and parallel with the machine versus perpendicular and bent.


Keeping my hands in this position the whole time while polishing relieves pressure and reduces hand fatigue.  I used to think you had to keep the machine straight up and down and move up and down, left to right when I first started out (many years ago).

Moving to lower portions of the car, there are a couple of things you can do.  One of them is lay on the ground on your side/back and polish the lower panels.  This way is good for sideskirts and bottoms of the doors if you dont mind getting a little dirty.  Another option is what I am doing in this next photo.  I simply turn the machine upside down and continue to polish.  As I mentioned, the machine will still spins and react the same no matter the angle, so instead of sitting on the ground, or flexing and bending my hands/wrists to hit the bottom portion of the panel, Ill keep my hands in a more parallel position with the machine and continue to polish just like I would an upper portion of the panel.


Keep your hands usable with good polishing technique!

Eric Schuster
Envious Detailing

Eric Schuster Envious Detailing
Eric Schuster
Envious Detailing
Orange County, CA

10 comments on Polishing with a Porter Cable: Hand positioning

  1. Mike says:

    wow. Wish this came out last week. I have been polishing like crazy at work lately and can’t even get to the gym because I messed up my back. Good write up.

  2. Adam B says:

    This is a very helpful article, Keep them coming!

    I’m new to using my PC I have used it for three full details so far and for buffing taillights. I’m getting a lot better with using it but it’s little pointers like this that really help the beginners like me!

  3. Kostas Skourtis says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for the effective and useful write up.

    What about holding the flex 3401?

    Do you prefer/recommend using side handle when available or sticking with the ‘head’ hold?

    Thank you in advance for your feedback.

    Kind regards

  4. Eric says:

    To be honest, I havent used the flex before to any real time. I tried it out, but it wasnt for me…My other detailing friends really like it though with the handle.

    Glad to help the DIY guys out!!!

  5. Kostas Skourtis says:

    Thank you Eric!

  6. Andy says:

    Sort of off-topic, but do you have issues with the compounds and polishes while working in direct sunlight? Or in this picture, does the tree provide enough cover?

  7. Eric says:

    compounding yes, final polishing not really.

    In the direct sun, the compound will flash MUCH too rapidly and you will not get any real working time. With polishing, the oils in the polish aid in preventing the polish from flashing, so you have longer working time, so its less of an issue. With that said, polishing indoors is MUCH preferred obviously all around!

    Also, if its a breezy day, it helps to keep the paint cool and allows better workability compared to blazing hot and dry. If its too hot, save the polishing for a different time/day if shade/indoors is not available.

  8. Ken Scott says:

    I wanted to chime in here. Eric is a fantastic detailer and a great guy. I needed some help with my car and applying compound/polish and hand position. He spent an hour with me and I really learned a lot. He worked with me on amount, speed and technique. I urge anyone in the So Cal area to use him. He is very knowledgeable, professional and a true find. Thanks for the article and contributing to this excellent site.

    Thanks again Eric!!!


  9. Kim Smith says:

    Hi Eric. I read this article a couple of weeks ago and used your hand positioning tips during my first polishing job this past weekend. Since it was my first attempt at polishing it took a REALLY long time to complete, but thanks to your suggestions I felt fine physically the next day. Thanks!

  10. Eric says:

    glad to hear its helped you out! AS you keep working with the machine, it will become second nature to you!

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