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What Machine Should I Purchase As My First Polisher?


The photo above is a great selection of polishers.  These tools play a major role in helping me achieve professional results when I am detailing.  Purchasing several Rupes polishers however is not a realistic option for most people starting out into the realm of polishing cars.  With that said, that does not mean you cannot achieve great results with a more cost-effective option!

Many of my first details were done with a Porter Cable 7424XP, using a 5inch and 3inch backing plate.  One of the reasons I mentioned this is if you budgeted for the polisher but not for the pads you are going to have a bad time detailing your car.  Not only are more powerful polishers more expensive but the pads that work with them are as well. Many times I see people starting off and picking up a more expensive polisher, but only using 1-2 pads on the entire car when they would be much better off with a more budget-friendly polisher and many, many more pads. I personally like to keep at least 4-6 pads per polishing step on hand.

In essence, you getting two polishers in one when you are picking up the Porter Cable with the 5″ and 3″ backing plates. Along with keeping a large enough budget to pick up lots of pads which will increase your end polishing results greatly. There is also a 6inch option with the Porter Cable, but it is not an option that I believe will give you good optimal control (stalling) of the machine.  It also takes away from its corrective power, negating the added size.

Below are some photos from when I performed a two-stage paint correction on a Prius using a Porter Cable.  I started with Menzerna FG400 with an Orange Lake Country CCS pad for compounding.  This was followed by Menzerna 3500 and a White Lake Country CCS pad for refinement. When using a standard dual action polisher, it is even more important to keep your working area small especially when compounding.  Map out an 11 x 14 space and do not stray from that area.  When refining you can extend your polishing area out somewhat further.

Also, the Gtechniq AP2 Ultra Soft Foam Filled Microfiber Applicator is great for polishing small hard to reach areas. I have found these applicators to do a quite admirable job correcting paint in hard to reach areas. You can use it for very tight/small areas, or if you want to avoid picking up a second smaller unit or a smaller backing plate/pad combo.

Here is a good first time machine polishing shopping list:

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Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
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2 comments on What Machine Should I Purchase As My First Polisher?

  1. rlmccarty2000 says:

    My first polisher was a Porter Cable too. Now I would suggest a Griots entry level polisher that is close to the same price (as the PC) but has much more power to keep pad stalling to a minimum. If you don’t mind buying used there are tons of Rupes polishers on eBay at a big discount, just choose wisely. Look at pictures of the backing plate for signs of wear and that should help you choose a polisher that has been lightly used. Many people buy a polisher and only use it once or twice before deciding detailing is not for them.

  2. John says:

    I started with a Porter Cable, too. I sold it to a buddy just recently. Even after upgrading, I used it for product removal with a microfiber bonnet over a big wool pad.
    Hindsight, I would recommend a Rupes 15. It would be a tool you would not need to replace. It is far more powerful and desirable to use. This would keep the hobbyist from dreading a long and arduous day of polishing. You will stay in the hobby and even do a neighbor’s car for fun(spoken from experience).
    It costs more, but I would have delved deeper into this hobby(for me) sooner if I had this one first. I agree with rlmccarty2000, so maybe try it with a buddy’s machine, first.
    Now, I have a Nano, Mini, 21, and a Mille.

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