Dual Action Orbital Polishing Guide

Are you washing your car, or just damaging the paint?

Welcome to our Dual Action Orbital Polishing Guide. Learn how to remove swirls and scratches, polish away oxidation, and apply wax using your Porter Cable 7424 or Ultimate Detailing Machine. These guides explain proper techniques and suggest what swirl removers, polishes, waxes, and sealants will give you the very best results. The techniques described on these pages will get you started on your way to smooth, shiny paint, regardless of the age of your vehicle.

Examples of a dual action polisher include the Porter Cable 7424 6” Variable Speed Polisher, the Ultimate Detailing Machine and the Makita BO6040 Polisher. (The Makita has a dual action mode and a circular mode.)



 

What is a dual action polisher?

 

Dual Action polishers are characterized by the motion of the head. It spins on a central spindle, and this spindle rotates around an eccentric offset. A good metaphor for a dual action polisher is the earth’s orbit. The earth itself spins and it also orbits around the sun. Dual action polishers are also called orbital polishers for this reason.

To the right is a simplified illustration of the underside of a dual action polisher, like the Porter Cable 7424 or the Ultimate Detailing Machine. You can see how the opening for the backing plate sits off-center. The counterweight sits opposite the backing plate to balance the weight of the pad and plate to prevent wobbling.

The rotating and orbiting of the pad produces what many refer to as a "jiggling" motion. This irregular motion prevents the polisher from burning the paint, which refers to removal of paint below the clear coat surface. Dual action polishers are very USER FRIENDLY because they produce very little heat compared to a rotary polisher.

The same safety feature which reduces the possibility of damage from a dual action polisher also prevents it from removing very deep scratches. While a dual action polisher will improve the appearance of scratches and remove most swirls, it does not produce enough heat to cut deep into the paint.

If you need deeper scratch removal, this will require a rotary or circular polisher. Keep in mind, rotary polishers in inexperienced hands can quickly burn the paint. The pad spins at high speeds and its up to the operator to keep the polisher moving at all times. If the polisher lingers for a second too long on one spot, it can burn through the paint. See our Circular Polishing Guide for more information.

Dual action polishers will improve the texture and luster of automotive paint with virtually no risk. They are the most user-friendly option for beginners and professionals, and they consistently produce beautiful results.

Note: Scratches that extend below the clear coat should be repaired by a professional. Attempting to remove these deep scratches could result in removing too much clear coat and causing the paint system to fail. If your fingernail catches on a scratch, consult a professional.

We carry premium foam pads by two manufacturers: Lake Country and The Edge 2000.  Both have their benefits and unique features. The guides below will outline the pads and how to use them to remove swirls, polish, and apply wax.




 

CCS Smart Pads Dual Action Polishing Guide


Learn how to correct paint flaws, polish out swirls, and wax your vehicle using the Ultimate Detailing Machine Dual Action Polisher or the Porter Cable 7424 Dual Action Polisher and CCS Smart Pads™ Professional Foam Pads by Lake Country. Our Lake Country Dual Action Polishing Guide details the process of swirl removal, polishing, and finishing using the most popular pads by Lake Country.

 

The techniques described here will also work for the Makita BO6040 Polisher, which has a dual action polishing mode. This polisher comes with its own specific backing plate, which can be used with any of the pads you see here.

 


 

What accessories do I need?


The Ultimate Detailing Machine Dual Action Polisher comes with a 5 inch backing plate with Velcro® brand hook and loop fasteners.

 

For the Porter Cable 7424 DA polisher, you will need a backing plate in order to attach the foam pads onto your polisher. The backing plate has a Velcro® brand hook & loop fasteners on the bottom of it to hold foam pads in place as you polish. You will see it described simply as "hook & loop" on pads and backing plates with this feature.

 

Backing plates for the Porter Cable 7424 polisher are available in two sizes:

 

Note: We recommend using a 5 inch backing plate with 6.5 inch pads to leave a larger margin of foam between the plate and the edge of the pad. This bigger margin of error protects the vehicle from unintentional impact with the backing plate.

 


 

CCS Smart Pads ™ Features:

 

Easy on and off. The hook and loop backing allows you to pull off a used pad and replace it with a fresh pad in seconds. The hooks and loops provide a secure connection combined with the ability to change the pad almost instantly.

 

Flat, full contact surface. Lake Country's 6.5 inch pads are perfectly flat to provide maximum pad to paint contact. They have enough give to go over a vehicle's curves but they do encourage the operator to use the pads flat on the surface, as they are intended.

 


 

CCS Technology:

 

CCS stands for closed cell structures, which are the small pockets the dot the front of the pads. These pockets enable the pads to absorb less product and keep it on the work surface. They act like little reservoirs where excess product is stored until its needed on the work surface. This improves operator control and lessens product waste. The pockets also reduce surface tension so flat pads move more easily across flat panels.

 

Smart Foam Pad Varieties:

 

Yellow Cutting Foams 6.5 inch Pad- Use this pad to apply compounds or polishes to remove severe oxidation, swirls, and scratches. It is the most aggressive and should only be used on oxidized and older finishes. Always follow this pad with an orange or white pad and a fine polish to refine the  paint until it is smooth.

 

Orange Light Cutting Foam 6.5 inch Pad- Firm, high density foam for scratch and defect removal. Use this pad with polishes and swirl removers. It’s an all around pad that will work on most light to moderate imperfections.

 

White Polishing Foam 6.5 inch Pad- Less dense foam formula for the application of waxes, micro-fine polishes and sealants. This pad has very light cutting power so its perfect for pre-wax cleaners.

 

Green Polishing/Finishing Foam 6.5 inch Pad- Use this foam to apply one-step cleaner waxes. It is a balance of polishing and finishing that is perfect for all-in-one product application.

 

Gray Finishing Foam 6.5 inch Pad - Composition is firm enough to withstand added pressure during final finishing to remove buffer swirls. It has no cut and will apply thin, even coats of waxes, sealants, and glazes.

 

Blue Finessing Foam 6.5 inch Pad – Flat pad has soft composition for applying glaze, finishing polish, sealants, and liquid waxes. Flat pad provides full contact with paint surface to minimize the pressure applied by the user.

 

 

So many choices! We'll narrow it down for you. Most vehicles with moderate swirls will require these items: an orange light cutting foam pad, a white polishing foam pad, a gray finishing foam pad, the 5 inch Flexible Dual Action Backing Plate and of course, the Porter Cable 7424.

 


 

How do I polish out swirls and scratches?

 

The following is a general guide to polishing. It will take you from compounding to polishing to finishing. If your paint problems do not require compounding, skip to polishing. If you’re not sure, start with polishing. Always take the least aggressive approach first! If you don’t get the desired results from polishing, then use a swirl remover and light cutting pad.

 

The pads pictured at the beginning of each section indicate what pads can be used to perform the job described. The Ultimate Detailing Machine and the Porter Cable 7424 DA polishers have the same speed settings so the following guide applies to both machines.

Please note: Deep scratches and swirls, and severe oxidation will require compounding with a circular polisher. If you are inexperienced with this type of polisher, consult a professional. If your fingernail catches the scratch or swirl, it will require painting and must be repaired by a professional.

 


 

I. Compounding & Swirl Removal

 

Compounding involves using the most aggressive type of swirl remover, called a compound. Swirl removers can range from light to heavy. The application is the same.

 

1

In the picture to the right, this is a serious case of swirls. Choose an orange light cutting pad and a swirl remover such as Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover or XMT Intermediate Swirl Remover #3.

 

2

Apply a circle of swirl remover around the edge of  the pad. Some will say apply a quarter size amount. You can even apply it directly to the paint. Ultimately you're going to spread it around so how the swirl remover gets on the paint is up to you. Spread the swirl remover over a small section  (about 2 x 2 sq. ft.) with the polisher turned off to prevent sling.

 

3

Set the maximum speed on the polisher at 5. Turn the polisher on and work the swirl remover in a side to side, overlapping motion. Move slowly to give the abrasives time to work.

 

NOTE: The Porter Cable tells you if you're applying too much pressure. The pad will stop rotating. Lighten up on the machine and let it do the work for you.

 

4

When the swirl remover turns to a transparent film, the abrasives have broken down. Turn off the machine and lift it off the paint. Buff away the residue with a soft, Cobra Microfiber Towel and inspect your results. If you are not satisfied, repeat the process with the same product or a more aggressive compound (like XMT Heavy Duty Swirl Remover #4). If you still see no results, upgrade to the yellow cutting pad. 

 

* If you used a compound, a light haze or dullness is normal. The next step will restore the gloss.

 


 

II. Polishing

 

Polishing improves the smoothness and gloss of the paint. Use a finishing polish if you’ve just compounded or if the paint just needs a boost.

 

If your vehicle is in great shape and you do not need a finishing polish, use Pinnacle Paintwork Cleansing Lotion or XMT Carnauba Finishing Glaze to enhance the gloss without abrasives.

 

1

Use the white or green polishing pad on your polisher. Apply the polish of your choice to the pad or to the paint and spread it around with the machine turned off.

2

Set the maximum speed to about 4.5. You're not trying to cut. You're just trying to burnish the paint to a high gloss. Work in a side to side, overlapping motion until the polish turns clear.

3

Buff with a Cobra Microfiber Towel and check your results. If you can still see some haze, repeat the process. This time, be sure that the abrasives are fully broken down before you buff.


 

III. Finishing


You're nearing the finish line. Just a couple more steps will make your vehicle glow.

 

To lock in the shine, follow up with a wax or sealant. Application of any of these products will be as follows.

1

Attach a gray or blue pad to your Porter Cable 7424. Apply the product to the paint or to the pad. Spread it around the paint in a 2 x 2 sq. ft. section with the polisher turned off.

 

2

Set the maximum speed to 3 or 4. You do not need speed to apply nonabrasive products. Spread the product over the paint until its sufficiently covered. There are no abrasives to break down. You are just trying to get even coverage.

 

3

Buff off the product with a Cobra Microfiber Towel or slip a Microfiber Bonnet over an unused pad. The bonnet is like having a microfiber towel on your polisher. Just be sure to put the bonnet over a clean pad so no products will seep through the bonnet.

 

Detailing Tips:

    The polisher will do the work for you. There's no need to apply pressure. Pad and product selection is not an exact science. The severity of the imperfections, the cut of the pad, and the aggressiveness of the product all factor into the final results. Don't be afraid to experiment. Start with the least aggressive method first. Go to a more aggressive pad or polish only if necessary.



 

The Edge 2000 Dual Action Polishing Guide

 

This guide explains how to detail by machine with the Porter Cable 7424 or Ultimate Detailing Machine and the Edge 2000 Foam Pads. You'll read what pads to use for specific paint problems and get some suggestions on swirl removers and polishes. You can also print this information as a quick reference guide. There's no more guessing what pads to use - its all outlined right here.

 


 

What accessories do I need?


That's a loaded question! The Edge 200 System offers a lot of options. Here's a rundown of the features and the pads.

 

The Edge 2000 Pads Key Features:


No backing plate! The Edge pads attach to your polisher using a Quick Connect Adapter that pops into the center of the pad. The connection is very secure and, because the adapter is in the center of the pad, the pad is always balanced.

 

Double-sided. Since the pads do not require a backing plate, both sides are usable. Instead of buying two single-sided white pads, you buy one Edge white pad.

 

Versatile. All The Edge pads work with any polisher. You can use 6 inch pads on your rotary polisher; just be sure you have the Edge Rotary Drive Adapter. You can use the same pads on your dual action polisher with the Edge DA Drive Adapter. One set of pads works with both types of polisher. All you have to change is the adapter.

 

Many varieties to choose from: The Edge pads are available in flat and Wave foam, as well as 6 inch and 8 inch.

 

Flat foam: Provides constant contact with the paint. The 6 inch pads have a rounded edge. The 8 inch pads have a beveled edge that polishes easily between and around the vehicle's exterior features.

 

The Edge Wave Foam: The convoluted design allows a constant flow of air through the pad's valleys. This reduces heat and minimizes the risk of burning the paint. This safety feature comes in handy when using a rotary because the high speed, centralized motion of rotary polishers is more likely to burn the paint than a dual action.

 

Beyond just size and wavy or flat, you now have to choose what type of foam will work on the vehicle at hand. Here are your choices:

 

Yellow Cutting DuraFoam 6 Inch Pad- This pad is aggressive, and will cut through deep surface marks and swirls. They work well on heavy oxidation and pitted finishes, and will remove wet sand scratches without causing burning.

 

Green Medium Cutting DuraFoam 6 Inch Pad- This pad is useful for light oxidation and moderate to severe swirls and imperfections. This pad will yield amazing results on older vehicles, and should be used on vehicles with moderate swirls and imperfections. Add a compound or pre-wax cleaner for a flawless finish on base coats.

 

Orange Light Cutting DuraFoam 6 Inch Pad- This pad is highly versatile, as it can be used on cars with light to moderate swirls and imperfections. We recommend you begin with this pad if you are unsure how deep swirls are, moving up to a Green Medium Cut Pad if necessary. Safe on clear coats.

 

Blue Finishing DuraFoam 6 Inch Pad- This pad is great for everyday use. It will leave surface areas scratch-free and smooth while still removing light swirls and imperfections. Use with wax and polish to apply a fine gloss. Safe on clear coats.

 

White Ultrafine Polishing DuraFoam 6 Inch Pad- This ultra-smooth polishing pad contains 80 pores per inch, allowing for fine polishing which creates a bold, crystalline gloss Use this pad to apply waxes, polishes and sealants. Safe on clear coats.

 

Edge 2000 6 Inch Red LSP DuraFoam Pad

Red LSP DuraFoam 6 Inch Pad- The red pad is softer than the white pad, which makes it perfect for new car finishes. Apply last step products, like waxes, sealants and glazes without fear of abrasion. The red pad also makes layering products easier. Apply multiple coats of your favorite wax or sealant with the red lsp foam pad, only from Autogeek.

 

Edge 2K Drive DA Adapter- Precision machined brass quick connect adapter  has a 5/16 inch thread.

 


 

The Edge gives you lots of choices! We'll break it down to the necessities:

 

For most polishing applications, this is the most popular line-up: The Edge2K Drive DA (E-210), an orange or green pad for swirl removal, a blue pad for a finishing polish, and a white pad for wax application. Now you're ready to get started.

 

How do I polish out swirls and scratches?

 

The following is a general guide to polishing. It will take you from compounding to polishing to finishing. If your paint problems do not require compounding, skip to polishing. If you’re not sure, start with polishing. Always take the least aggressive approach first! If you don’t get the desired results from polishing, then use a swirl remover and light cutting pad.

 

The pads pictured at the beginning of each section indicate what pads can be used to perform the job described. The flat pads and the wave pads are interchangeable. The Ultimate Detailing Machine and the Porter Cable 7424 have the same speed settings so the following guide applies to both machines.

Please note: Deep scratches and swirls, and severe oxidation will require compounding with a circular polisher. If you are inexperienced with this type of polisher, consult a professional. If your fingernail catches the scratch or swirl, it will require painting and must be repaired by a professional.

 

I. Compounding & Swirl Removal

 

Compounding involves using the most aggressive type of swirl remover, called a compound. Swirl removers can range from light to heavy. The application is the same.

 

1

In the picture to the right, this is a serious case of swirls. Choose a green medium cutting pad and a swirl remover such as Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover or XMT Intermediate Swirl Remover #3.

 

2

Apply a circle of swirl remover around the edge of  the pad. Some will say apply a quarter size amount. You can even apply it directly to the paint.

 

Ultimately you're going to spread it around so how the swirl remover gets on the paint is up to you. Spread the swirl remover over a small section  (about 2 x 2 sq. ft.) with the polisher turned off to prevent sling.

 

3

Set the maximum speed on the polisher at 5. Turn the polisher on and work the swirl remover in a side to side, overlapping motion. Move slowly to give the abrasives time to work.

 

NOTE: The Porter Cable tells you if you're applying too much pressure. The pad will stop rotating. Lighten up on the machine and let it do the work for you.

 

4

When the swirl remover turns to a transparent film, the abrasives have broken down. Turn off the machine and lift it off the paint. Buff away the residue with a soft, Cobra Microfiber Towel and inspect your results. If you are not satisfied, repeat the process with the same product or a more aggressive compound (like XMT Heavy Duty Swirl Remover #4). If you still see no results, upgrade to the cutting pad. 

 

* If you used a compound, a light haze or dullness is normal. The next step will restore the gloss.

 


 

II. Polishing

 

Polishing improves the smoothness and gloss of the paint. Use a finishing polish if you’ve just compounded or if the paint just needs a boost. Examples are Pinnacle Advanced Finishing Polish or XMT Ultra Fine Swirl Remover #1.

 

If your vehicle is in great shape and you do not need a finishing polish, use Pinnacle Paintwork Cleansing Lotion or XMT Carnauba Finishing Glazeto enhance the gloss without abrasives.

 

1

Use the blue polishing pad on your polisher. Apply the polish of your choice to the pad or to the paint and spread it around with the machine turned off.

 

2

Set the maximum speed to about 4.5. You're not trying to cut. You're just trying to burnish the paint to a high gloss. Work in a side to side, overlapping motion until the polish turns clear.

 

3

Buff with a Cobra Microfiber Towel and check your results. If you can still see some haze, repeat the process. This time, be sure that the abrasives are fully broken down before you buff.

 


 

III. Finishing

 

You're nearing the finish line. Just a couple more steps will make your vehicle glow. Once you've achieved the desired shine, follow up with a wax or sealant to lock in the gloss.  Application of any of these products will be as follows:

 

1

Attach a white ultrafine polishing pad to your Porter Cable 7424 or UDM. Apply the product to the paint or to the pad. Spread it around the paint in a 2 x 2 sq. ft. section with the polisher turned off.

 

2

Set the maximum speed to 3 or 4. You do not need speed to apply nonabrasive products. Spread the product over the paint until its sufficiently covered. There are no abrasives to break down. You are just trying to get even coverage.

 

3

Buff off the product with a Cobra Microfiber Towel or slip a Microfiber Bonnet over an unused pad. The bonnet is like having a microfiber towel on your polisher. Just be sure to put the bonnet over a clean pad so no products will seep through the bonnet.

 

 

Detailing Tips:

    The polisher will do the work for you. There's no need to apply pressure. Pad and product selection is not an exact science. The severity of the imperfections, the cut of the pad, and the aggressiveness of the product all factor into the final results. Don't be afraid to experiment. Start with the least aggressive method first. Go to a more aggressive pad or polish only if necessary.