Can a Rotary Buffer like a Makita or DeWalt be as Idiot-proof as a PC?
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Thread: Can a Rotary Buffer like a Makita or DeWalt be as Idiot-proof as a PC?

  1. #1
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    Can a Rotary Buffer like a Makita or DeWalt be as Idiot-proof as a PC?

    Can a Rotary Buffer like a Makita or DeWalt be as Idiot-proof as a PC?


    I've been checking out some leading detailing websites like Autogeek and Classic Motoring Accessories etc., which are selling both PC's and rotary buffers.

    Based on the product information, they have stated that a rotary is as safe and easy to use compared to a PC if you keep the speed below 1200 rpm?

    Can I get some opinions on this.


  2. #2
    I am the paint whisperer. Superior Shine's Avatar
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    It is very safe if kept below 0 rpms

    Actually there is no substitute for proper technique and practice.

  3. #3
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    The basic difference between a Rotary and a Dual action is:

    A dual action rotates the pad and at the same time ossiltates (sp) the head. Thus giving it "dual action". It is low torque and does not create a lot of heat/friction.

    A rotary is basically a sander with a pad on it. It is a pad, bolted to the motor at 90°. It has lots of torque and creates lot of heat (which burns your paint).

    From what I understand of it, a dual action like the G-100 or 7424 will get out most defects in paint (if possible), but the rotary is king/ultimate weapon for the job.

    At full RPM's you can grab the pad of a DA and it will stop the pad. Do it with a rotary and you will be called righty for the rest of your life.

  4. #4
    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Their answers are kind of fluffy and feel-good for what it's worth.

    Over the years I have met hundreds of people that want to learn how to machine buff, one of the things I like to share with them is that there is a lot of difference between watching someone demonstrating how to use the rotary and working a small, easy to buff section like an area on the hood, and taking a rotary buffer to the entire car.

    It takes practice to get experience and to actually be good at it and it's this practice, as in buffing out many cars in order to to have the upper body strength including back, shoulders, arms and hands to call buffing with a rotary buffer just as easy as using a dual action polisher.

    There is a tremendous amount of difference between demonstrating a small section on the hood of a car and buffing out the entire car.

    For first timers, if it's you're own car you can always do a section at a time, for example the hood one Saturday, a fender the next Saturday, and so on...

    Remember, depending on the quality you're trying to achieve, a super high quality rotary buff-out, (assuming the finish is in horrible condition to start with and needs compounding), means
    • * Washing the car
      * Claying the car and wiping off the residue
      * Performing a test spot or two to dial in your system and make sure you system will work. (Alway test your product and process in a small area first to make sure you can made a small area look good before tackling the entire car.)

      * Taping off the car if you're so inclined. (Often times because of the number of times you're going to run the buffer over the panels of the car the potential for excess splatter in all the body seam, trim crevices, moldings, etc., you'll find it fast to tape off a car really well instead of going back over the car at the very end and digging any excess splatter out of the cracks with a toothbrush. This in part depends on your personal idea of a quality buff job as some people don't care if they leave splatter in the cracks and crevices, and some guys are so good they don't splatter at all so they don't tape off, everything depends on you)

      * Step 1 - Rotary buffer compounding - Then wipe off
      * Step 2 - Rotary buffer light machine cleaning. Usually with a cleaner/polish - Then wipe off
      * Step 3 - Optional Re-Polish entire car using a dual action polisher to insure all swirls are removed using the previously applied cleaner/polisher.

      * Step 4 - Apply first coat of wax
      * Step 5 - Optional Apply second coat of wax
      * Step 6 - Remove tape and give car a final wipe. (Assuming you taped off any trim or body seams etc...

    The point is, tackling an entire car with the rotary buffer and doing a super high quality job can take the entire day. In the above example, if you did all of the steps, you will have wiped-off each panel 6 times, not including wiping off the water after washing the car), and with each step, you must focus more an more on doing your best to carefully wipe off any residue because after the second and third steps you will have, or should have removed all but the deepest scratches and you don't want to be putting any more back in as you wipe product off.

    Remember, after the first two rotary buffer steps, there's a good chance you wont be as energetic as you were when your first started, that is you may be a little tired, yet you still have a long a number of steps to do.

    If you're buffing out a car for a customer, you have to pretty much do it all in one day, I know a few guys the are able to spread one car out over two days and charge for both days.

    If you're only working on your one car and you don't have to put the car back onto the street any time soon, you can take your time and finish the process at your leisure.

    If you have to put the car back into service that day or the next day, then you can do a section at at time, performing the entire process to the section so that when you put the car back into service, the areas you have buffed are also polished and waxed.

    So it's somewhat true that a rotary buffer is just as safe and easy to use as a dual action polisher in the context of holding the tool and moving it over the panel, but in the context of tackling what I call a complete, that is taking on a car that has a horrible finish and needs a multiple-step process performed starting with the compound process using a rotary buffer with the goal of producing a true show car finish, (I don't know what other full-time Professional Detailers call it), then I would say that the answer is No, a rotary buffer is not as easy to use as a dual action polisher or even an orbital buffer.

    It's a lot of work to take a diamond in the rough and turn it into a glistening gemstone starting with a rotary buffer.

    Swirls throughout the finish of this 1963 black Corvette Stingray

    After wiping down and claying and before taping off.

    Extensively taped-off. At this stage the finish had been rotary buffed twice and then wiped down in preparation for final polishing with the dual action polisher.

    End results

    And then it's alway nice to have 30 plus Corvette owners on hand to inspect the result in bright sunlight the next day...

    By all means if you're interested in learning how to use a rotary buffer, do investigate the subject, (like you're doing here on Meguiar's' Online ), then either rent, borrow or invest in one and find a practice car to learn on!

    Don't try to learn how to use a rotary buffer on a black Viper, (or insert your favorite type of car in place of the Viper). In other words, don't try to learn how to use the rotary buffer on anything that's important to you.

    One more comment. The above outlined way of buffing out a car is to guarantee a 100% swirl free flawless finish in any light. This is not the norm. Most detailers and most detail shops will do a one-step rotary buff with a cleaner/wax and move on. This is because for the prices they charge, they cannot spend anymore time than necessary to make the paint shiny. Of course this means the car will be completely swirled out when viewed in bright lights. You get what you pay for and sometimes you don't even get that.

    Also, most body shops don't do fancy multiple-step buff-outs let alone follow their rotary work with a dual action polisher, thus the reason you will see shops turning out work like this,

    When it comes to producing or obtaining quality work, you must be educated on the subject and know the value of a dollar.

    Hope this helps...

    (Is this kind of detailed information available on the two websites trying to sell you the rotary buffer? Or any discussion forum for that matter?)
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    "Find something you like and use it often"

  5. #5
    Registered Member RamAirV1's Avatar
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    Lots of great ideas. When machine buffing, I prefer to work my car in sections, such as hood and front fenders on one weekend, roof and doors another weekend, rear fenders trunk and rear bumper another weekend. That way I can be obsessive compulsive and get as many swirls out as possible and use the #81 before waxing.

    I am happy to know I am not the only one that would spend an entire day buffing my car out if I did the whole thing in one day.

    Fortunately, I have no acquired enough swirls on the goat to require machine buffing yet. Having previously owned a black T/A I have a lot of experience in swirl avoidance.


  6. #6
    Registered Member Buellwinkle's Avatar
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    A rotary can be as safe as a PC with the correct pads and product and a little hands on training. I've used a rotary for years and just started using a PC as a result of Mike Phillips's class. I prefer the rotary for polishing as it's considerably quicker and doesn't vibrate/shake like the PC. I use my PC more for light polishing (which is most of the time on my cars as they are regularly maintained) and applying wax like the NXT Tech Wax I put on 2 of my 4 cars this morning. On friend's cars that have harder finishes where the PC couldn't handle it I've use my rotary.

    Your best bet if you want to use a rotary is find a body shop or detailer that you can buddy up to and have them spend some time showing you how it's done. If you agree to buff some cars for them many will let you do it, specially if you don't pose a threat as competition. I learned how to make pizza that way, just for fun I paid for the pizza if they showed me how to make them. Just don't bug them when they are busy.

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    Interesting posts, as always, Mike types stuff up so that it is easily understandable

    Can someone shed some info on this?

    I didnt know that following with the PC, after the roatry, is commonly done.

    I read somewhere someone state to the effect that, nothing produces a deep wet shine like a rotary.

    Not that the PC doesnt produce a deep wet shine, but that it is more pronounced with a rotary polishing.

    If this is true, wouldnt going over the work the rotary has already done, with the pc produce a less wet and deep finish?

    Before i hear this myth either confirmed or busted, i will add that alot of the pics the pros put up of cars that have got the rotary treatment are slightly a step better then anything anyone puts out with just a pc.

    Or it could be why they are pros,
    Last edited by JeffM; Jun 21st, 2005 at 03:01 PM.

  8. #8
    Registered Member Buellwinkle's Avatar
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    I use a PC to apply wax after polishing with a rotary but I wouldn't waste my time polishing with a PC after polishing with a Rotary, what would be the point? The reason I think the PC does a better job at applying wax is that it vibrates the wax into every little variation/nook/cranny/swirl in the paint where the rotary may glide over it, but the main reason is splatter, the PC doesn't splatter anywhere near as bad as a rotary and some waxes are pretty watery.

  9. #9
    Show Car Detail Dragpakmach's Avatar
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    Once again great info Mike.
    2007 Mustang GT/CS white 5sp. named Cali
    Show Car Detail

  10. #10
    Vehicular Narcissism VanityDetailing's Avatar
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    from Scott Clarke, Gulf Atlantic Marketing, Inc.
    There are only a couple variables that can create swirl marks in the finish... whether it's gelcoat on a boat, or a $90K paintjob on a show car...

    1. Technique. If you move too fast, you won't get the heat that you actually need, to make the product work. Move too slow, and you'll burn through it. You have to find your rhythm. It's like making love with a really hot girl... you gotta put your whole body into it... and if you move too fast, she's gonna slap the bejeezus out of you. Move too slow, and she's gonna tell everyone you don't know what you're doing. Get the right rhythm, and she'll tell all of her friends, and then you can get all of her friends, and her friends' friends.

    2. The pad. Seperate pad for seperate compounds. If you mix the pads, it's gonna be screwed up. These compounds are designed to work with certain pads, at certain speeds and pressure. If you're using the 82, with a foam pad, don't you DARE use 81 on that same pad. Change the pad, and while it can be used on a foam pad, don't use it on the same one as the 82. SEPERATE PADS FOR SEPERATE COMPOUNDS.

    3. The pad (pt. 2). Dirt, and contaminants are the easiest way to get scratches and swirls into the finish. Keep the pads meticulously clean. Go to your mom's house, steal a bunch of her 1 gallon ziploc bags, and put one pad in each bag. Keep them all seperate, and keep them open, so that they can dry out. When you're ready to use them again, spray them with the bottle (50% water, 50% rubbing alcohol), clean them out with that stick (piece of fiberglass boat hull, that's been smoothed on the edges, and has rounded off teeth cut into it... drag it along the spinning pad, everything flies off). Ready to go.

    before buffing with a rotary:

    after buffing with MV81 (wool pad), MV82 (foam pad), Flagship Marine (foam finishing pad):

    Needless to say, I'm converted!
    Last edited by VanityDetailing; Jun 26th, 2005 at 06:34 AM.
    Automotive and Marine Detailing
    "Because when you want everyone to look at your car or boat's shine, that's Vanity."

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