A lot of detailers and weekend warriors own a Porter Cable 7424xp. For many of us, it is the main buffer that we use. I am going to discuss the usage of the side handle, or as the instruction manual calls it, an auxiliary handle:
“An auxiliary handle is furnished with the tool. You can install the auxiliary handle on either side of the front housing to facilitate either right-handed or left-handed operation.
Grasp the polisher firmly with both hands – one hand on auxiliary handle and one hand on motor housing.”
Having a second polisher, I have designated my PC for 4″ polishing. I use it for awkward curves on a body panel, and for tighter areas. If I installed the side handle it would most certainly get in the way many times.
In fact, I have never used the side handle while using the PC, even when I was using it with 5.5″ pads. The main issue is that while light pressure is needed on the pad, using the side handle could cause uneven pressure on the pad. This means you would “tilt” the pad to which ever side you have installed the handle. Although, I did find my side handle, still in the bag and never opened.
I opened up the bag and installed the side handle to demonstrate why I never have used it. As you can see in the photo below, the natural tendency with the side handle is to bias whichever side the handle is installed on. I tried to keep even pressure on the pad and this was a candid shot that shows even while trying to keep even pressure, it wasn’t. This uneven pressure was causing the pad to stop spinning, not what I wanted.
Instead, I just use the top of the machine for one hand and my other hand on the motor housing. It allows for proper pressure directly on the pad. Here is DJ Mayo showing this technique.
Without the side handle installed, the top plastic housing is just clipped on and can come off rather easily.
In order to prevent this, I added two bolts with rubber washers to either side of the machine where the side handle would go. I went to a local “box store” with my machine and found these.
These bolts ensure the cover is secured to the body. In addition to the housing being secured, I have found that with the rubber washers and bolts installed, vibrations in the machine are reduced.
I think the reasons that many manufacturers are changing to a D style handle are fairly clear. They allow for more even pressure on pads and are not as intrusive as a side handle. Personally, I do not use the D handle on my second machine. Instead, I have installed the washers and bolts in that machine, gaining the reduction in vibrations and allowing for direct top pressure on pads.