When it comes to polishing your aircraft, the right buffing tools are essential. Whether you are an aircraft enthusiast going after a complex restoration job or an aviation technician assigned with the task of shining up the bright work, you’ll need to start with a reliable buffing tool you can trust.
The task of choosing the best buffing tools for your aircraft may be not be easy, however. With so many tools on the market, the selection process can be time consuming and frustrating. Use these quick tips to choose the buffing tool that’s perfect for your aircraft project.
Why use a Buffing Tool?
Buffing tools present a number of benefits. A machine like a buffing tool can cut the amount of time it takes to polish an aircraft in half or less, and may even be easier on the muscles and joints. The alternative is to complete a job manually, without the use of machinery. For those of you familiar with this method, it’s not always fun.Manual aircraft polishing jobs takes skill, strength and lots of time.
Types of Buffing Tools
When choosing the best buffing tools for your aircraft, it’s wise to have a solid understanding of the types of tools on the market. Here’s a breakdown of each type with a brief description of what each tool is best at performing:
Rotary Buffing Tool
A rotary buffer stands apart from the rest of the tools on the market due to its unique motor/wheel interaction. The rotary buffer’s motor is driven directly from the motor. This gives the machine an extremely powerful spinning motion. This functionality makes rotary buffers excellent for extensive jobs like removing paint from a severely damaged aircraft. It’s the tool of choice for neglected aircraft in need of a high speed, powerful polish job.
Orbital Buffing Tool
The orbital buffing tool has a different drive from the rotary buffer. Instead of a fully circular motion, the motor allows for a random, figure eight spinning motion. The randomness provides benefits in terms of control of the machine. It also helps with managing the heat the device creates making it almost impossible to damage the metal surface by applying too much pressure.
Dual Action Polisher
Similar to the orbital buffing tool, the dual action polisher uses the random spinning motion which takes pressure off the metal and generates less heat over the duration of a polishing job.
Buffing Tool Features
Many of the buffing tools on today’s market have common features. It’s good to keep these in mind when making your selection.
- Trigger and lock mechanisms – no need to hold the trigger for the entire job; the lock mechanism holds the trigger in place during the polishing job
- Threaded Spindle – allows for connection of an attachment system or backing plate
- Handle Systems – stick handles or hoop handles for a firm grip as the machine polishes
- Variable Speed – allows for setting speeds according to the type of job needed
- Quick Disconnect System – allows easy disconnect of attachment
Knowing What to Look For
Beyond common features, there are other factors to consider which may help narrow down your buffing tool options. The easiest way to determine the machine that’s best is to match the quality of the buffing tool with the goals you have in mind for the job. When you’re on the hunt for the best buffing tools for your aircraft, keep the following top factors in mind:
- Ease and Versatility
- Accessories and Attachments
- Size and Weight
Using the Best Buffing Tools for Your Aircraft
Using buffing tools on your metal aircraft may take a bit of skill at first, but with practice, it’s possible to develop a level of expertise that brings out a perfect shine everytime. A buffing job starts with a great machine as well as a determined mind ready to patiently work through any obstacles that may come along the way.
Start by making sure that your cord is placed properly over your shoulder or away from the finished work you’ll be doing. The last thing you want is for the cord to drag along the polish and ruin your polishing job before it’s off to a good start.
Next, you’ll want to lay a bead of polish on the metal aircraft surface. Then, use the buffing tool to pick up the bead. Do this by aligning the bead at about a 10 o’clock position on the buffing wheel. Then proceed to scoop up the bead of polish by moving the buffer along the bead line.
Next, you’ll want to begin slowly polishing the metal surface, moving the buffing tool in a uniform motion. Here’s where the skill and experience of the polisher comes into play. Everyone has their own opinion about the best swirl motion to use when polishing an aircraft. You’ll want to try a few different techniques until you find the one that’s most comfortable for you.
Hand Polish or Buffing Tool?
All of this may not sound like the easiest task in the world. For newbies, it may even sound downright complicated. This brings up the question, is it better to stick with hand polishing?
For those who don’t mind putting in the time and elbow grease a hand polishing job takes, the idea may be an alluring one. However, there are a few factors that make hand polishing jobs detrimental. Some of today’s finishes simply won’t allow for professional results without the use of buffing tools with pads that are capable of dealing with the chemical content found in metal surfaces.
So, while cleaning a metal aircraft can be accomplished with just a soft rag and a good cleaning agent, it may be harder to achieve desired results for polishing an aircraft without the use of a solid, high quality buffing tool.
Tips for Choosing the Best Buffing Tools for Your Aircraft
When you’re looking for the best buffing tool for your aircraft be sure to check metal aircraft polish websites. Some aircraft polish companies also carry buffing tools that go along well with the polishes they provide. If you have a particular go-to polish, chances are you’ll also like the buffing tool that complements it best.