How to Use Orbital Polisher

Written by larry simmons
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How to Use Orbital Polisher
An orbital polisher can restore your car's paint job to a glossy finish. (Car headlamp image by Christopher Dodge from

Orbital polishers are dual-action cleaners that mimic the action of hand polishing. They operate by rotating a centrally spinning head, creating a jiggling motion that keeps the polishing pad moving constantly. This constant movement prevents many of the burn-through problems encountered with other mechanical polishers. Other mechanical polishers can sometimes scrub straight through the protective layer of clear-coat contained on your car's painted surface, quickly stripping away the layer of paint beneath. Using an orbital polisher correctly avoids this problem, giving you the polish you want instead of the need to repaint a surface.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Multi-speed orbital polisher
  • Cutting pad
  • Swirl remover compound
  • Polishing pad
  • Polishing liquid
  • Finishing pad
  • Wax

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  1. 1

    Attach a light cutting pad to the orbital polisher.

  2. 2

    Apply a thin line of the swirl remover compound around the edge of the cutting pad. The swirl remover is an abrasive intended to remove flaws in your paint's surface by levelling scratches.

  3. 3

    Apply the swirl remover to the paint surface with the orbital polisher turned off. Cover an area 2 feet by 2 feet in size. Turn the orbital polisher on and buff the swirl remover onto the paint. Move the polisher in a side-to-side motion to buff the remover evenly. Work the pad across the surface, overlapping the applied polish by about an inch until all of the remover turns a light transparent colour, signifying that the abrasives in the remover have become inert. Repeat the process until the entire surface has been treated.

  4. 4

    Buff the surface of the paint with a microfiber cloth to remove any residue from the swirl remover. The small scratches in the paint should be levelled out and unobtrusive.

  5. 5

    Change to a polishing pad on the orbital polisher. Apply a polishing liquid to the pad and repeat the same process used in Step 3. Burnish the paint until you gain a glossy shine. Use a microfiber towel to buff any residue away.

  6. 6

    Attach a finishing pad to the polisher and apply a wax or sealant to cover and protect the glossy shine. Set the polisher to a speed about 60 per cent of that used with the polisher and then cover the surface of the paint with the wax, using the same process from Step 3. Buff the surface of the paint a final time with a microfiber towel.

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