Polisher buying guide

Polisher buying guide

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

221 guides

Essential in car bodywork for polishing and buffing paintwork, rotary or orbital polishers can be used to apply polish, wax or sealant. From disc diameter to rotation speed, here's our guide to machine polishers.

Important features

  • Rotary
  • Orbital
  • RPM
  • Power
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Used to polish flat surfaces such as cars or even marble, a polisher is primarily reserved for car bodywork detailers and car enthusiasts. Two main types are used:

Rotary polisher

The rotary polisher, also known as a circular polisher, is used to correct major defects (deep scratches, severe oxidisation). The rotary polisher polishes with a simple circular movement due to the rotation of its plate at high speed. Similar in appearance to a bench grinder, a rotary polisher is powerful and leaves marks on the paintwork after it has been used. It is used with pads and allows the application of different polishing products. Work can also be completed with an orbital polisher to obtain a nice finish. It is not recommended for amateur use or as a first polishing tool because it can cause permanent damage if badly used (it requires a certain level of dexterity). The addition of variable speed is essential

Orbital polisher

The orbital polisher is less powerful and is more suitable for finishing or paints that do not require deep polishing or buffing (paint in good condition and only lightly faded or scratched). The orbital polisher does not correct major defects (deep scratches) but minor defects (spider webs, slight oxidisation). It waxes and polishes through an orbital movement which combines two movements - the axis of rotation is offset to the axis of revolution (orbital movement). It is perfectly suited for applying polish.

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Rotary polishers are distinguished by:

  • The power of their engine, ranging between 1,100 and 1,600 Watts;
  • The speed of rotation, itself relative to the power of the polisher and oscillating between 600 and 4,000 rpm;
  • The diameter of the discs, which can be 150, 180 or 230 mm. The majority of models are equipped with 180 mm discs;
  • The weight, a determining factor, especially when planning on prolonged vertical use. Normally around 2 and 3.5 kg;
  • A variable speed polisher drive allows you to adapt to all kinds of different work;
  • A progressive start to avoid any violent jerking when starting.

For the reasons listed above, this type of machine polisher tends to heat up. Some models are designed with specific cooling vents and reinforced dust protection.

Orbital polishers are more suitable for beginners and are much lighter. Their primary characteristics include:

  • The power, generally between 100 and 600 Watts;
  • The number of revolutions per minute normally ranging from 1,500 to 6,800 rpm;
  • The disc diameter, starting from 150 to 240 mm;
  • The presence of a variable speed drive to adapt to different types of work;
  • The weight is generally 2 kg.

When tackling paint jobs, the orbital polisher is equipped with foam pads. The pads are specific to the product they are used with (pads for polishing, waxing, etc.)

Polishers are fairly simple machines, where power and rotations per minute are often the most important factors. Find out below the other important things to consider when deciding which model of polisher is right for you:

  • An anti-start switch prevents accidental starts;
  • Ergonomic handles are preferred for better comfort;
  • Polishers can accommodate different accessories such as a sanding plate, a sander pad, a polishing pad, a wire brush etc.;
  • Easily accessible rods are an undeniable plus;
  • Thermal override protection is always a safe option;
  • Good thermal protection is highly recommended;
  • The rod's thread should generally be classified M14;
  • For those who have an air compressor and wish to use it, compressed air polishers are also available!
  • Sponges, sheepskin pads and polishing discs etc. are attached according to their type - some are velcro, others are threaded on the disc.

Don't forget to polish and shine!

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Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 221 guides

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!