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Dual Action Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch Removal

Dual Action Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch RemovalDual Action Porter Cable 7424XP Polishing Guide

Dual action polishers like the Porter Cable 7424XP, FLEX XC3401 VRG Orbital Polisher, and Griot's Garage 6 Inch Random Orbital Polisher can provide exceptional results in a reduced amount of time, making them ideal for enthusiasts who want to get the most out of their effort. The main purpose of dual action polishers is to remove paint imperfections more effectively than you can by hand. The built-in safety features of the machine makes it an ideal choice for beginners.

Dual action machines pose less risk of burning the paint than a circular polisher because of the random orbital motion. Dual action polishers are a great tool for removing minor imperfections and swirls without the risk of accidental damage – a perfect selection for the entry-level hobbyist. In the section that follows, we will explain the dual action polisher and its purpose.

What is a dual action polisher?

A dual action polisher spins on a central spindle, like a circular polisher, but this spindle rotates around an eccentric offset. This offset produces an random orbital motion that prevents the machine from burning the paint. The evenness and repetition of this orbital motion makes it possible to level the clear coat around a scratch - rendering it invisible.

Although dual action polishers lack the power to penetrate scratches that have surpassed the clear coat, they can still remove many swirls and scratches and create an impressive finish. There are many different models: Porter Cable 7424XP 6" Variable Speed Polisherand the Flex XC 3401 VRG Dual Action Orbital Polisher to name a few. These names represent the best you can get, and are the efficient tools of the automotive elite. If you want to make a name for yourself with your detailing work, take pride in your work and use these machines.

What accessories do I need?

Our pads are manufactured by Lake Country. Lake Country pads use Velcro brand hook and loop fasteners that stick to a backing plate (listed below).

Lake Country CCS pads are listed below.

Note: The FLEX XC 3401 Orbital Polisher includes its own 6 inch backing plate that works with Lake Country pads.

Lake Country CCS 6.5 inch Pads

The Edge 2000 6 inch Pads

Yellow Cutting Foam - for heavy swirls, oxidation, scratches. Yellow Cutting Foam - for heavy oxidation, swirls, scratches.
Orange Light Cutting Foam - for light to moderate swirls and scratches. Green Medium Cutting - for moderate swirls and scratches.
CCS Dual Action 6.5' Coarse Green Cutting/Polishing PadPink Cutting/Polishing Foam - medium density with the ability to level very fine scratches and very light oxidation. Use light swirl removers with this pad.

Blue Polishing Foam - for shine enhancement using a polish or prewax cleaner.
White Polishing Foam - for shine enhancement using a polish or prewax cleaner. White Finishing Foam - for wax, sealant and glaze application.
Green Polishing/Finishing Foam - for cleaner waxes, one step polishes. Quick Connect Dual Action Adapter
Gray Finishing Foam - for the application of waxes, sealants, prewax cleansers.  
Blue Finessing Foam - for the application of waxes, sealants, glazes.  
Red UltraSoft Wax/Sealant Foam - for the application of waxes, sealants, glazes.  
5 inch Flexible Backing Plate  
6 inch Flexible Backing Plate  

Optional accessories include a lambswool leveling pad and bonnets. Lambswool pads level badly pitted and damaged paint. They also serve as a cushion under a terry or microfiber bonnet. Bonnets are used for final buffing.

How do I polish out swirls and scratches?

You have learned wealth of information regarding dual action polishers, and you’re probably ready to try your hand at restoring a vehicle to its factory-fresh finish.

I. Compounding
  1. Use the cutting pad or light cutting pad when applying a compound. Compounds and swirl removers are both types of polishes. Compounds are the most aggressive polish and swirl removers are often available in different "cuts". Choose a light cutting pad and a fine swirl remover for light to moderate imperfections and a heavier cut swirl remover or compound and cutting pad for moderate to severe blemishes. Always start with the less aggressive option and move up to the cutting pad if necessary.
  2. Apply a bead of compound around the outer edge of the pad. Put the pad onto the surface to be compounded and spread the compound over a 2 x 2 ft. section to avoid splatter. Then turn the polisher on at a slow setting. As it spreads over the section, gradually increase your speed. Work in a slow, side to side pattern no more than 2 feet wide. Work the compound in well and keep the pad moving at all times.
  3. When your compound begins to dry or turns clear, turn off the machine and lift it off the paint. Buff away the residue with a soft, microfiber towel and inspect your results. If you are not satisfied, repeat the process. If you still see no results, upgrade to the cutting pad.
  4. It is not necessary to compound your entire vehicle. Work on the problem areas only and stay away from corners and edges where the paint is thinner.
Compounding may leave a light haze. This is normal. Polishing will remove the haze and restore the shine.

II. Polishing
  1. Use a polishing pad with a finishing polish or a pre-wax cleaner. This step refines your paint after compounding and restores the shine to dull paint.
  2. It may be helpful to mist the pad with water or a quick detailer to make application easier.
  3. Apply polish in a bead around outer edge of pad. Place pad onto surface and turn the machine on a low speed. Gradually increase the speed as you spread the polish in a side to side pattern. Work in 2' x 2' areas. When the polish begins to dry, turn off the machine.
  4. Check your work by wiping the area with a microfiber towel. If it is still hazy, continue polishing. If it is glossy, move on to finishing.
III. Finishing
  1. Use the finishing pad to apply your favorite wax or sealant.
  2. Apply the product to your pad and work at a low speed. Cover the surface evenly. Depending on the product’s instructions, you may apply it to one section at a time or to the whole vehicle before buffing it off by hand or using a bonnet. Check the directions.
With practice, this process becomes much easier. If you find your paint imperfections are more serious than you thought, you may want to consider a circular polisher. Our circular polisher guide will give you helpful tips to get you started.

Porter Cable 7424XP Dual Action Polisher <font color=red><b>With Free How To DVD</font></b>
Remove more paint imperfections with the Porter Cable 7424XP Dual Action Polisher! This polisher has a powerful 4.5 amp motor for enhanced performance. Yet, the Porter Cable 7424XP has the same safe random orbital motion of the original Porter Cable 7424.
List Price: $149.95
Our Price: $129.95
Flex XC 3401 VRG Dual Action Orbital Polisher
Now this is a dual action polisher! The Flex XC3401 VRG Dual Action Orbital Polisher has a true dual action motion with an extra long “stroke”, the distance the machine throws the pad during its orbit. These two features combined with German engineering, make for one impressive dual action polisher.
List Price: $439.99
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