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Home > Car Care Products > Swirl Removers & Polishes > Circular Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch Removal

Circular Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch Removal
Click to enlargeCircular Polishing Guide

Circular polishers are the professional's choice for paint correction. The main purpose of circular polishers is to remove paint imperfections, and professional detailers will have no problem operating a polisher safely. However, circular (rotary) polishers do emit more heat than a dual action (orbital) polisher and are therefore more likely to cause paint damage in inexperienced hands. If you are a beginner – try using a dual action polisher first. Dual action machines are easier to operate and they’re a good practice tool before moving on to circular polishing.

As always, we encourage you to watch professionals or experienced hobbyists in your area to learn as much as you can. The circular polisher is a powerful tool that will require skill, but with great products and a steady hand, you can achieve the results of your dreams. In the section that follows, we will explain the circular polisher and its purposes.

What is a circular polisher?

A circular polisher can go by many names. Don’t be confused by references like ‘rotary polisher’ or ‘high-speed polisher.’ They are one and the same. The words ‘rotary’ and ‘circular’ refer to the spinning movement of the device itself. The evenness and repetition of this circular motion makes it possible to level the clear coat around a scratch - rendering it invisible.

Improper use of a circular machine polisher can actually burn the paint through overheating. This can be avoided by keeping the polisher moving at all times. The random motion of dual action polishers eliminates the risk of paint burning, so once again, we urge amateurs to look into that section first.

Superior carries several circular polishers: the Makita 9227C, the FLEX L3403 VRG Lightweight Circular Polisher, and the DeWalt DWP849X. 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, use these machines.

Use your polisher at a speed between 1000 and 1500 RPM. You must keep your polisher moving to avoid building up a concentration of heat in one spot. Try to keep the pad completely flush with the paint – this will distribute the heat throughout a larger area. Anyone new to rotary polishers should master the craft on scrap car panels, available at your local salvage yard. Extensive experience with a dual action polisher will also help prepare you for rotary use.

Remember, circular polishers are restoration tools. General polishing and buffing can be done with less risk with a dual action polisher.

What Are Circular Polishers Used For?

Circular polishers can remove scratches, oxidation, and paint swirls. Circular polishers can remove deeper imperfections than a dual action polisher can, which makes circular polishers the choice of more professionals.

The circular polisher can be adapted for different jobs by changing the pad. Our pads are manfactured by Lake Country Manufacturing and The Edge 2000. The primary difference between these two pad styles is that Edge 2000 pads connect to the polisher with an adapter (listed below). Lake Country pads use Velcro brand hook and loop fasteners that stick to a backing plate (listed below). This design difference allows the Edge 2000 pads to be double-sided. The Lake Country pads are single-sided. There are also differences in the foam densities and purposes, which are outlined below.

Lake Country CCS 8.5 Inch Pads

* Also available in 7.5 inch pads.

The Edge 2000 8 Inch Pads

Yellow Cutting Foam - for heavy oxidation, swirls, scratches. Black Heavy Cutting Foam - for severe oxidation and pitted paint.
White Polishing Foam - for shine enhancement using a polish or prewax cleaner. Yellow Cutting Foam - for heavy oxidation, swirls, scratches.
Gray Finishing Foam - for the application of waxes, sealants, prewax cleansers. Green Medium Cutting - for moderate swirls and scratches.

Blue Finessing Foam - for the application of waxes, sealants, glazes.

Blue Polishing Foam - for shine enhancement using a polish or prewax cleaner.
Red UltraSoft Wax/Sealant Foam - for the application of waxes, sealants, glazes. White Finishing Foam - for wax, sealant and glaze application.
6 inch Rotary Flexible Backing Plate Quick Connect Rotary  Adapter
7 inch Flexible Rotary Backing Plate  


Removing Scratches and Swirl Marks.

You have learned a wealth of information regarding circular polishers, and you’re probably ready to try your hand at restoring a vehicle to its original finish. These steps are a guideline to help you get started. As you become more familiar with the machine, you will develop your own techniques.

I. Compounding
  1. Use the cutting pad or light cutting pad when applying a compound. Compounds may be labeled as such, or they may be labeled as swirl removers. Choose a light cutting or polishing pad and a fine swirl remover for light to moderate imperfections and a heavier cut swirl remover and cutting pad for moderate to severe blemishes. Always start with the light cutting or polishing pad and fine swirl remover. Upgrade to the cutting pad if necessary. Apply compound directly to the pad.
  2. Put the pad onto the surface to be compounded and spread the compound with the machine turned off. Set the machine at 1000 RPM and turn it on, gradually increasing speed to 1200-1500 RPM. Work in a horizontal side to side pattern no more than 18” wide. Then make a vertical up and down pattern over the area. Work the compound in well and keep the pad moving at all times.
  3. When your compound begins to dry or turn clear, turn off the machine and lift it off the paint. Mist the surface with a mixture of equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol. Buff away the residue with a soft microfiber towel and inspect your results.
  4. If you are not satisfied, repeat the process with the same compound or a more aggressive compound. If you still see no results, upgrade to the cutting pad.
  5. 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 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.
  1. It may be helpful to mist the pad with water or a quick detailer to make application easier.
  2. Apply polish directly to the surface. Spread the polish with the machine turned off. Press the pad flat on the surface and turn the machine on at 1000-1200 RPM. Spread the polish in a figure eight pattern as above. Turn the machine off as the polish dries.
  3. Check your work by spraying the surface with plain water and wiping the area with a microfiber towel. If it is still hazy, continue polishing. If it is glossy, move on to finishing.
III. Finishing & Wax Application
* Because of the heat produced by a circular polisher, we recommend applying wax or sealant by hand to avoid unnecessary risk to your paint.
    Use the finishing pad to apply your favorite wax or sealant. 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 with a microfiber towel.
The circular polisher should have removed all surface scratches, swirls, and blemishes. If you have some remaining scratches, these will most likely require professional attention.

For general polishing and buffing, you may find it easier to use a dual action polisher. Read our guide on dual action polishing to see which machine best suits your needs and skill level.


Qty FLEX PE14-2-150 Rotary Polisher, circular polisher, FLEX PE142150, bufferFLEX PE14-2-150 Rotary Polisher - FLEX-PE142150
Presenting the user-friendly circular polisher, only from FLEX. Rotary polishers
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Our price: $409.95
Qty Makita 9227C work tirelessly, no matter how often and aggressively you use it. Makita 9227C is a powerful circular polisher for oxidation and scratch removal.Makita 9227C 7" Polisher Includes Makita Bag & Wool Pads! - MK-9227CX3
Includes a heavy duty nylon bag and two wool pads at no extra charge! Eliminate
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Retail Cost: $249.99
Our Price: $199.95
Qty FLEX L3403 VRG Lightweight Circular Polisher, rotary polisher, flex bufferFLEX L3403 VRG Lightweight Circular Polisher - FLEX-L3403VRG
The circular polisher has finally lightened up! The circular/ rotary polisher has
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Our price: $279.95
Qty 6 Inch Professional Polisher Flexible Backing Plate, 6 inch rotary buffer plate6 Inch Professional Polisher Flexible Backing Plate - LC-43-160WH
Prevent cookie-cutting with a balanced, level backing plate just for rotary
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Our price: $19.95
Qty 7 inch Professional Polisher Flexible Backing Plate7" Professional Polisher Flexible Backing Plate - LC-43-175

Prevent cookie-cutting with a balanced, level backing plate just for rotary
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Our price: $22.95
Qty Advance Curved Edge 7.5 Foam Pad Kit, lake country 7 1/2 inch ccs pads, lake country ccs foam padsAdvanced Curved Edge 7.5" CCS Foam Pad Kit - BFPK-300-CCS
For dual action or circular polishers! There are some problems in detailing that can
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Retail Cost: $79.38
Our Price: $69.95
Qty lake country 8 1/2 inch ccs foam pads, 8 1/2 inch ccs foam pad kitAdvanced Curved Edge 8.5 inch CCS Foam Pad Kit - BFPK-400-CCS
The must-have kit for orbital polisher fans. If you want to polish a large SUV or
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Retail Cost: $79.95
Our Price: $69.95
Qty CCS Curved Edge Yellow Cutting Pad 8.5"CCS Curved Edge Yellow Cutting Pad 8.5" - LC-78-54750


Use this pad to apply compounds or polishes to remove severe oxidation, swirls, and scratches. It is the
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Our price: $12.95
Qty CCS Curved Edge Orange Light Cutting Pad 8.5"CCS Curved Edge Orange Light Cutting Pad 8.5" - LC-78-24750



Firm, high density foam for scratch and defect removal. Use this pad with polishes and swirl
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Our price: $12.95
Qty CCS Curved Edge Coarse Green Cutting/Polishing Pad 8.5" CCS Curved Edge Coarse Green Cutting/Polishing Pad 8.5" - LC-78-34750C
This foam is of medium density with the ability to level very fine scratches and very light oxidation. Use light
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Our price: $12.95
Qty CCS Curved Edge White Polishing Pad 8.5"CCS Curved Edge White Polishing Pad 8.5" - LC-78-64750

Our price: $12.95
Qty Lake country padsCCS Curved Edge Gray Finishing Pad 8.5" - LC-78-74750



Composition is firm enough to withstand added pressure during final finishing to remove buffer
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Our price: $12.95
Qty CCS Curved Edge Blue Finessing Pad 8.5CCS Curved Edge Blue Finessing Pad 8.5" - LC-78-94750



Flat pad has soft composition for applying glaze, finishing polish, sealants, and liquid waxes. Flat
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Our price: $12.95
Qty CCS Curved Edge Red UltraSoft Wax/Sealant Pad 8.5"CCS Curved Edge Red UltraSoft Wax/Sealant Pad 8.5" - LC-78-14750
This soft, imported foam is ideal for applying the final coat of wax or sealant. The foam works especially well
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Our price: $12.95
Qty Detailer's Pro Series Polishing Pad Rejuvenator was created to provide detailers with a fast and effective way to clean pads without soapy residue or foamy degreasers. You can also clean all your microfiber products with DP Polishing Pad Rejuvenator.Detailer's Polishing Pad Rejuvenator - DP-730
No more small packets! One pound of concentrated pad cleaning power! Orbital
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Our price: $24.95, 2/$39.95
Sale price: $21.95
Qty CCS Curved Edge Pink Cutting/Polishing Pad 7.5"CCS Curved Edge Pink Cutting/Polishing Pad 7.5" - LC-78-PINK75
This foam is of medium density with the ability to level very fine scratches and very light oxidation. Use light
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Our price: $11.95


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