Top 7 Best Rotary Polishers for Detailing (2019)

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What are the best rotary polishers and buffers for the money?Rotary polishers have been around for years. They are the original electric circular polishers and continue to be popular for their speed, power, and efficiency. This is especially true for professional detailers and dedicated hobbyists.

I typically recommend Dual Action Orbital polishers to beginners because they are stupid safe on your paint whereas rotary polishers can quickly burn paint at worst and leave ugly buffer trails at best in the hands of the inexperienced.

In the hands of a skilled user a rotary polisher can correct much faster than a random orbital. This is because you are in charge of moving the polisher while it spins. This allows you concentrate on the bad areas like deeper rids or bird bomb etches.

The rotating action allows you to employ more downward force which increases friction and heat. With great power comes great responsibility as they say.

To anyone seriously considering a rotary polisher I also recommend a paint thickness gauge so you know how much paint you have to work with and how much you are removing as you go.

Now lets take a look at some of the top rotary car polishers on the market as of today.

Top Rotary Polishers:

DeWalt DWP849

Sale
DEWALT DWP849 7-Inch/9-Inch Variable...
58 Reviews
DEWALT DWP849 7-Inch/9-Inch Variable...
  • Powerful, 12.0-Amp, all ball-bearing construction for long...
  • Electronic control maintains specified speed under load...
  • Conveniently located variable speed dial lets user set...
  • Variable speed trigger allows user to control speed from 0...
  • Heat-treated, precision-cut steel gears for smooth operation

Who is this model for?

Pros who need a rugged tool to cover a lot of ground fast. The long warranty increases confidence in investing in such a tool.

  • Type: Rotary
  • Forced Rotation: Yes
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Throw (mm.): N/A
  • Throw: N/A
  • Min Speed: 0
  • Max Speed: 3500
  • Soft Start: Yes
  • Power (watts): 1250
  • Weight (lbs.): 6.7
  • Backing Plate (in.): 7″
  • Cord (ft.): 10′
  • Warranty: 3 Year

Pros

  • Smooth soft start trigger
  • Powerful
  • Durable
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Runs warm

This a pro quality rotary built for auto detailers, fabricators, painters, and body men and women. It’s ruggedly overbuilt and ergonomically designed to reduce fatigue from long use.

It has a two finger trigger switch, top mounted speed control, and large D shaped handle. All of these make it easy to hang onto and control.

The included backing plate is 7” using a standard 5/8 – 11 inches spindle thread so it’s great for working large areas on large vehicles and watercraft.

On the down side, it’s heavy compared to the Rupes and Flex alternatives. Also, the head of the tool isn’t designed to be very comfortable to use without a handle. If you’re not a handle user you’ll want to look at other tools in this list that are designed with a more comfortable palm grip.

On the upside it has a molded in tool rest allowing you to set it down upside down so you do not contaminate your buffing pad.

What I really like is the 3 year warranty. So many tools only have a 1 year warranty these days. If you’re a pro buying a tool to make money with you want to be guaranteed it’ll be in working order or repairable for a long as possible to increase your return on investment.

 

Makita 9237C

Makita 9237C 10 Amp 7-Inch Variable...
24 Reviews
Makita 9237C 10 Amp 7-Inch Variable...
  • Variable speed dial and trigger enables user to match the...
  • Soft start for smooth start-ups and less fling off of...
  • Rubberized loop handle and gear housing to help protect...
  • Wire mesh intake covers to prevent wool fibers from entering...
  • Lock-on button for continuous use operation

Who is this model for?

Pros and hobbiest that want a good bang for your buck rotary that’s fully capable and feature rich.

  • Type: Rotary
  • Forced Rotation: Yes
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Throw (mm.): N/A
  • Throw: N/A
  • Min Speed: 600
  • Max Speed: 3000
  • Soft Start: Yes
  • Power (watts): 1200
  • Weight (lbs.): 7
  • Backing Plate (in.): 7″
  • Cord (ft.): 2′
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Smooth soft start trigger
  • Smooth motor

Cons

  • Loud
  • Heavy

This polisher includes a 7” backing plate designed for 7.5” and larger buffing/polishing pads to make short work of large projects or jobs. It’s built with speed and consistency in mind.

The motor includes an electronic controller to maintain speed regardless of pressure (“cruise control” if you will) and ensures a soft start when powering on the tool to keep from slinging polish everywhere before spreading it out or losing control of the tool.

The 10amp motor provides more than enough power to complete any project or job you would use a rotary for.

There is also a wire mesh intake cover to reduce wool fiber and polish dust ingestion into the motor, something that the 9227c suffered from.

It has a top mounted D handle like you would find on a DA for those who prefer that over the side handle of the traditional angle grinder style rotary buffers.

It also has a rubber tool rest molded on top to allow setting the tool down without contaminating your pad. I love that feature on every polisher that has it because I use it ALL THE TIME. My Griot’s GG6 does not have a tool rest and it drives me nuts when I use it.

The only real drawback is the short 1 year warranty and slightly hire pitched whine of the motor compared to the 9227c.

 

Milwaukee 5460-6

Sale
Milwaukee 5460-6 7-Inch/9-Inch Polisher...
24 Reviews
Milwaukee 5460-6 7-Inch/9-Inch Polisher...
  • The product is easy to use
  • The product is durable
  • The product is manufactured in China
  • Versatile 7-inch/9-inch heavy-duty polisher
  • 11 Amp motor

Who is this model for?

Any pro or hobbiest looking for a rugged no frills large sized buffer with a long warranty for peace of mind.

  • Type: Rotary
  • Forced Rotation: Yes
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Throw (mm.): N/A
  • Throw: N/A
  • Min Speed: 0
  • Max Speed: 1750
  • Soft Start: Yes
  • Power (watts): 1320
  • Weight (lbs.): 8.8
  • Backing Plate (in.): 7″
  • Cord (ft.): 10′
  • Warranty: 5 Year

Pros

  • Very powerful
  • Long warranty
  • Stays cool
  • Includes soft start

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Low max speed for metal polishing

If you’re looking for a no frills, powerful, extremely well built polisher with a long warranty then you should consider the Milwaukee 5460-6.

It’s built with a ridiculous 11 amp motor and includes a 7” rubberized backing plate that effortlessly runs 8” and larger pads for really fast work on large buffing jobs.

The body is the typical side handle and pistol grip angle grinder setup you’re used to seeing on rotary polishers. It also includes a nice rubberized tool rest on top so you can set the buffer down without worrying about it falling over and contaminating your pad.

On the downside this is a heavy polisher at 8.8lbs. It also lacks the nice doubleshot rubber grips at the pistol like some other polishers.

The max speed is also lower than the average rotary will reduce polishing potential for some metals unless you step up the pad size to increase the surface speed.

The real differentiater with this polisher is the 5 year warranty.

 

Flex PE14-2-150

FLEX (PE 14-2 150) POLISHFLEX Compact...
13 Reviews
FLEX (PE 14-2 150) POLISHFLEX Compact...
  • Powerful 10-Amp motor
  • Step less speed selection between 600 and 2100 RPM
  • Overload protection
  • Highly efficient cooling of gear unit and motor
  • Backing plate and pad not included

Who is this model for?

Pros and hobbiests looking for the most refined and user-friendly full size rotary polisher. Anyone sensitive to noise, vibration, or tool weight will want to opt for this tool.

  • Type: Rotary
  • Forced Rotation: Yes
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Throw (mm.): N/A
  • Throw: N/A
  • Min Speed: 600
  • Max Speed: 2100
  • Soft Start: Yes
  • Trigger Lock: Yes
  • Power (watts): 880
  • Weight (lbs.): 5.6
  • Backing Plate (in.): 6″
  • Cord (ft.): 13′
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Pros

  • Smooth
  • Comparatively Quiet
  • Light
  • Powerful

Cons

  • Short warranty
  • No backing plate included
  • Pricey

If you prefer refinement over ruggedness then the Flex PE14-2-150 is what you’re after. It was engineered and built in Germany and is designed to be as pleasant to use as possible.

The motor uses a combination of planetary and bevel gears to reduce noise and incorporates cooling fins to create a heat extracting fan. This makes the tool very smooth, quiet, and cool to operate.

The trigger switch is a variable speed allowing you to slowly ramp up speed to to the selected speed on the dial. There is also a trigger lock so you don’t have to hold the trigger down to maintain speed.

Like the Makita 9237c this polisher also includes an electronic speed sensor to maintain steady pad speed regardless of pressure allowing for a more even finish which helps to prevent buffer trails and holograms.

The only drawbacks are the comparatively short 1 year warranty and lack of an included backing plate. Reports of failures are rare though so the warranty doesn’t shake my confidence much. I just wish it were longer.

The buffer does accept standard 5/8″ thread backing plates so your options are plentiful. It will also run a backing plate as small as 3″ and as large as 7″.

Overall, if the Milwaukee 5460-6 were a Camaro this thing would be the Corvette.

 

Flex PE8-4-80 Kompakt

FLEX PE8-4 80 3' Lightweight Portable...
4 Reviews
FLEX PE8-4 80 3" Lightweight Portable...
  • VR electronic control: stepless speed selection, overload...
  • Tachogenerator-controlled constant speed
  • Spindle lock does not interfere with grip area
  • 7.6 amp motor
  • Can be used with 1, 2, and 3 inch backing pads - not...

Who is this model for?

Professionals and hobbiests that need to spot correct or polish intricate details on a car, motorcycle, trike, or side-by-side. Would work great on the gel-coat on a pwc like a waverunner as well.

  • Type: Rotary
  • Forced Rotation: Yes
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Throw (mm.): N/A
  • Throw: N/A
  • Min Speed: 1300
  • Max Speed: 3900
  • Soft Start: No
  • Power (watts): 350
  • Weight (lbs.): 4
  • Backing Plate (in.): 3″
  • Cord (ft.): 12′
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Pros

  • Compact
  • Light
  • Smooth

Cons

  • No trigger, uses rocker switch for power
  • No backing plate included

The Flex PE8-4-80 is one of the few compact electric rotary polishers. It is designed for a 3” backing plate to run 3-4” pads meant for intricate detail work and spot correction that would otherwise leave you polishing by hand or using an air tool.

Unfortunately it doesn’t come with the backing plate but there are a few options out there for a few bucks such this one by TCP Global.

It’s great for smaller vehicles with complicated panels like motorcycles, trikes, and side-by-sides. In a production shop this would make a great dedicated headlamp lens restoring polisher.

The polisher also only weighs 4lbs making it one of the lightest electric rotary polishers you can buy.

 

Flex L3403VRG

Flex L3403VRG Light Weight Variable...
3 Reviews
Flex L3403VRG Light Weight Variable...
  • Soft start, accelerator trigger switch, over-load...
  • High powered motor to handle extreme loads, spindle lock for...
  • Quality shut-off carbon brushes: if brushes wear down, the...
  • Bail handle
  • Backing pad and polishing pads sold separately

Who is this model for?

If weight is the most important factor to you or you really like holding your polishers by the head and tail rather than by a large handle I’d recommend this over the PE-14.

  • Type: Rotary
  • Forced Rotation: Yes
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Throw (mm.): N/A
  • Throw: N/A
  • Min Speed: 1100
  • Max Speed: 3700
  • Soft Start: Yes
  • Power (watts): 880
  • Weight (lbs.): 4.8
  • Backing Plate (in.): 6″
  • Cord (ft.): 13′
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Pros

  • Soft start
  • Light
  • Quiet

Cons

  • No backing plate included
  • Runs warm

The 3403 is essentially a lighter version of the PE-14-2-150. It has a higher listed max speed but you’ll never use this speed when polishing. The sweet spot for compounding with this tool is around 1500RPMs. Though if you plan to use edge pads for polishing aluminum you may find the extra speed beneficial.

I do prefer the topside handle on this tool over the PE-14. In the forward position it allows holding the tool like you can on the similarly sized long throw random orbital polishers.

For those that prefer a side handle you can use one with this polisher as well.

One drawback is that this buffer does not include a backing plate. It does accept standard 5/8″ thread backing pads however and those are plentiful and cheap.

One other drawback is that with larger pads the tool does tend to run warm after a while. It can run uncomfortably warm after a long polishing session. With smaller pads this isn’t a problem. This is a universal with the full size light weight rotary buffers.

For that reason I wouldn’t recommend this polisher for a production detailing on large vehicles, boats, or aircraft.

 

Chemical Guys TorqR

Sale
Torq BUF504 1 Pack TORQR Precision Power...
4 Reviews
Torq BUF504 1 Pack TORQR Precision Power...
  • Accurate RPM display (ad)- 4 digit RPM display, a Torq...
  • Harmonious balancing (HB): internal components and machine...
  • User Centered Design (UCD): Designed with user comfort and...
  • Precision power (P): powerful 900 Watt motor provides smooth...
  • Rapid-release - (R): the most Advanced rotary polisher also...

Who is this model for?

Anyone looking for a budget rotary who dislikes trigger switches and wants some newer bells and whistles.

  • Type: Rotary
  • Forced Rotation: Yes
  • Power Type: Electric
  • Throw (mm.): N/A
  • Throw: N/A
  • Min Speed: 600
  • Max Speed: 2400
  • Soft Start: No
  • Power (watts): 900
  • Weight (lbs.): 5.5
  • Backing Plate (in.): 5″
  • Cord (ft.): 5′
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Digital speed display
  • Easy backing plate switching
  • Light

Cons

  • No trigger if you prefer that switch type
  • Short warranty

Similar in operation to other rotary polishers of the same size. The TorqR has a comparatively small 5” backing plate for more intricate work. It also ditches the trigger for a top mounted power switch and digital speed output versus a dial.

It uses a standard 5/8” threaded spindle so you can trade out backing plates with most other rotary backing plates.

 

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