I was reading the post about where to get a buffer/polisher, and although I am no expert, I thought I'd give my $.02 here for those that are considering getting one.
Rotary buffers are a great tool if you know what your doing and know when to use them. But it is VERY hard to get a perfect result from a rotary buffer. I've worked with SEVERAL pro detailers that detail $100k+ show cars, and even they prefer not to use a rotary if you can help it. The rule of thumb is to use the least aggressive tool/product to get the job done.
While using the rotary will make your paint look better, you will most likely leave swirls or holograms, or worse.....burn the paint. And when I'm working on a customers car, they always ask why I'm not going to use a rotary buffer on thier car. They figure that they are hiring me to do what they can't do(use a rotary). When in fact, I VERY RARELY use a rotary. Not because I don't know how to use them, but because 99% of the defects that I come across can be taken out by hand or by a dual action polisher(NOT AN ORBITAL) and chosing right products.
I always try and do a test spot on the hood or trunk before I start a job, and let the customer see what kind of results I can get WITHOUT using a rotary buffer. They are always amazed when they see the results.
Case in point....here is a shot of what a dual action polisher can do for swirl marks. These are very deep swirl marks and the customer doubted that I could get them out without using a rotary buffer. This is with 2 passes of the dual action polisher, the right product and using the correct technique.
The left half is what I did with a dual action polisher, and the right half was taped over(if you couldn't tell)
As you can see, the dual action polisher did the job VERY well!
While a rotary is useful, it is not needed in all aplications. Most of the defects that I come across are taken out by hand or by using a dual action polisher. Remember, your dealing with automotive paint, and it is VERY THIN!! If your trying to remove defects, then you are going to have to remove paint! Always use the least agressive tool/product to get the job done. I can't say that enough!
But if your dead set on getting a rotary, then buy a good one. I never use a rotary above 1600rpm's, and most of the time I use it at 1200rpm's or less. So buying one that is variable from 600-3000rpm's or 0-3000rpm's is a good investment. Another thing to look for is variable trigger speed. Thats the ability to set it on a max speed on your speed dial and use the trigger to vary the speed up to your max setting. You don't want to hit your paint with a burst of 1200rpm's as soon as you set it on your car and hit the trigger, you want to work your way up to your max setting while your spreading your product out, then slowly get it up to your full speed setting. I usually set my buffer on 600rpm's to spread the product out, them move it up to 1200rpm's to work it in.
Pad selection is another important decision to make. I prefer the foam pads. Wool pads can be dangerous if you don't know what your doing!
And finally, choose your products wisely! I'm not going to get into a big debate about this product vs that product. There are some very popular products out there that I would never use on my own car much less one of my paying customers cars. Do some research about what products your planning on using. There are a lot of good forums out there to ask questions on, and get profesional answers. I use them all the time. I don't know everything, and if there is something that I am not sure of, I'm going to ask before I just try something. I still go to classes put on by manufactures of products to LEARN how to use their products correctly(technique is very important). I do not just go out and buy something off the self and slap it on my car or my customers car.
So there it is, my $.02 Take it or leave it, thats up to you.