THE PADDING WITHIN A WORLD OF PADS
It's the cross-section to a category that in many ways seems to be oversaturated, gratuitous, all whilst fomenting thoughts of uncertainty and bewilderment. The biggest players along with up-and-coming talent continually influence our decisions as to what's deemed "appropriate" for our tool(s) of choice. For many of those who are hoping to gain an added skill set, this kind of influence which one can only hope is served with the best of intentions sometimes rest in the hands of the apprehensive and impressionable.
Let's face it, it's a difficult pill to swallow in a postmodern society where excessive capitalism is at the forefront. Do you know what my response is to this dilemma? The more the merrier, because I'd rather be faced with too much choice than too little. If you hadn't guessed by now, we're talking about the continuously expanding market of polishing pads.
The world of polishing is highly paradoxical in the sense that you can't simply cover the category without talking about the elements that correlate to the action. In other words, pads serve a multitude of purposes with each subsect being designed to fit a particular scenario, and those scenarios can lead to a variety of outcomes depending on what you're hoping to accomplish with any given surface.
Part 1 | Theory & Application
There's a common misapprehension that polishing is a limited, straight-laced process by which one can enhance levels of gloss, but you'd be dead wrong. In fact, each and every time we put a polishing pad to the test (assuming it's being paired with a chemical) you're damaging your paintwork. Hold the phone, mister. What do you mean I'm damaging my paintwork?
Hypothetically speaking, even if one were to use any form of pad without a chemical, it can still be classified as an abrasive. Yes, you read that correctly. Depending on the task, some projects may not necessitate the use of a chemical at all. In some instances, adding a chemical could produce injurious affects depending on the nature of the surface and how it reacts to the paint system that's being restored. Some chemicals are coarser than others, but not unlike that of an acidic compound, you're eating into a surface that already carries a limited shelf life; that is if we're discussing the modern-day basecoat, clearcoat system.
Moreover, in this day and age, that limited shelf life has now become even more limited with most mass-produced manufacturers applying as little material as possible in exchange for what many would consider to be categorically unreasonable profit margins.
Consequently, our options need to be carefully weighed before an optimal solution can be reached. Okay, I'll step off my soapbox. Everything aside, let's turn our attention to the variety of pads which are currently used in today's detailing market. What you see below represents only a fragment of how one can approach paint correction, and can sometimes be interpreted as a perplexing roadmap to achieving polishing literacy.
PAD AGGRESSION CHART AS IT CORRELATES TO A SPECIFIED POLISHING SYSTEM
Type A | Wool
Often considered a linchpin of the body shop/body work industry, the wool pad is your broadsword, so to speak. If your primary objective is to take on work that requires heavy paint correction or high-volume production projects, this is the one you should consider keeping in stock at all times. Reason being is that this composition of wool pad is comprised of 4-ply, which translates to four strands of pre-spun wool. When fused together, they create one, highly-resilient strand. Lay them side-by-side, and you'll see why this type maintains its structural integrity over time.
Pairing & Operation
In order to get the most out of a traditional wool pad, it needs to be paired with a rotary polisher. Now, that's not to say you can't achieve adequate results when paired with a DA (dual-action polisher), but there are two forces that complement each other during this process. One, the rotary operates off of a fixed pattern and direct drive. When you add thousands upon thousands of wool fibers simultaneously, it will facilitate the process of heavy defect removal. From an historical perspective, it's been proven to be the most sensible pairing not only in the way of automobiles, but also in cases of correcting gel coats on boats and aviation where aluminum is present. When it comes to visualizing the process, let's view this as the "foundational" work to achieving optimal correction on paintwork. Would you begin constructing a wood table using a butter knife? No, you wouldn't. In this particular case, you need to cut and dig before refinement follows. That's not to say that deep cutting is required in every scenario, but for those who are faced with projects that require heavy defect removal, this should be deemed necessary.