What is polishing by hand
Polishing by hand is the act of working in polish without the help of a machine, but by moving the polishing pad by hand. This is obviously slower then working with a machine, but will give much more control on the end result. Polishing by hand is usually done when the use of a machine offers to much risk, for example when the paintwork is very thin. Some weekend warriors might use this technique because they might not have the budget available to buy a machine. Polishing by hand can be done with the same material and products as polishing by machine, but some manufacturers make special products to make the process easier.
What to use when polishing by hand
The products and tools that can be used to polish by hand can be the same as the ones you would use with a machine, however some polishing pads can be difficult to hold while moving over the panel. The flat and round polishing pad doesn’t offer much grip. Certain manufacturers have created polishing pads with shapes that offer more grip and are easier to hold on to while moving the pad around. The polishing paste used with these pads can also be the same as when working with a machine, but a few manufacturers have created products that will give more results in a shorter timespan. The downside is that these polishes often require more aftercare to get to the maximum gloss level.
The technique for polishing by hand
Polishing by hand isn’t very difficult or tricky, the movement you make is very similar to that of applying wax or pre-wax to a panel, although the movement when polishing should be a bit faster. There are some different discussions on the movement itself, but in general the most common movement is making small overlapping circles, working in areas of roughly 40cm by 40cm. The smaller the circle you make with your arm, the finer the polishing result. Others feel that making straight lines offers better results. Regardless wether you make small circles of straight lines, the common consensus is still that you should make overlapping movements, and to make a criss-cross pattern. Meaning you work from left to right first, and then from top to bottom (or vice versa). After making several passes, the detailer wipes off the oily polish residue, wipes down the panel with (or similar) and judges the finish. In general, polishing by hand will take a lot longer then polishing by machine.