Ranking The Best Boat Buffers
DeWalt DWP849X Variable Speed Boat Buffer
Porter-Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Marine Buffer
Rupes LHR21ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher
Joe Appleton Updated on October 10, 2022. In Boatsby
If you want your boat to enjoy a long and healthy life, then you’re going to need to get serious about its maintenance: and that’s why you need a dedicated boat buffer. There are a lot of tools required to keep a boat in tip top condition, but very few will be as versatile as a buffer. These stalwart devices are essential for removing blemishes, tackling stains, applying polish, and buffing up your boat.
There’s more to them than an orbital spinning motion and an on and off switch, and many boaters buy the first buffer that they see rather than finding one that’s designed specifically for their boat type and their needs. And of course, some boaters are happy to use automotive buffers, and automotive products instead of specific marine-focused equipment.
Some can be used on both boats and cars, but the very best are developed specifically for boat buffing.
With so many products on the market, finding the right one can be tricky. To make life easier, we’ve put together a list of the best boat buffer products on the market, with a short buying guide to point your search in the right direction.
1. DeWalt DWP849X Variable Speed Boat Buffer
The Dewalt brand is one of the most respected names in tool manufacturing, so it should come as no surprise that the Dewalt DWP849X makes our list. This boat buffer is a top list mainstay and we can’t see it going away anytime soon. When it comes to boat polishing and automotive detailing, this is a highly-regarded tool with plenty of positive boat buffer reviews.
Equipped with a powerful 12 amp, 1250 Watt electric motor, this handy buffer can rotate to speeds of up to 3,500 orbits per minute. It’s controlled by electronic command module that monitors and maintains speed even when under load to produce better results. What’s more, it has a variable speed dial that allows operators to choose speeds ranging from zero to 600/3500 rpm. That’s right, from zero: it has a soft start function.
Other interesting features include the integrated Wool Ingestion Shield that prevents ingestion of wool which drastically increases the tool’s lifespan, a spindle lock button for quick and effortless pad changes, and a three-position loop handle, as well as a regular side handle too.
This product is perfect for buffing fiberglass and gel coat areas, and it’s at an affordable price point too. It’s ideal for beginner buffers and professional polishers alike. It even features a three-year limited warranty, and a one year free service contract.
Diameter: 7 – 9 inch
Power: 12 Amp / 1250 Watts
RPM: 0-600 / 0-3,500 RPM
Weight: 6.7 lbs
Features: Tough, powerful buffer that features a soft start function.
2. Porter-Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Marine Buffer
The Porter-Cable 7424XP is a random orbital buffer that delivery excellent buffing power at an affordable price. The brand is synonymous with hard-wearing, entry-level products that deliver high-quality results without costing an arm and a leg. If you’re new to the world of buffing, both boat buffing and car buffing, give this one a try.
Powered by a 4.5 amp electric motor, Porter-Cable’s buffer delivers a maximum of 6,800 orbits per minute, with an electronic variable speed dial, allowing you to choose how many orbits your require, starting from as low as 2,500 OPM.
The motor controls a random orbit pattern that offers swirl-free sanding, and a pristine mark-free polishing action. This is an intuitive beginner-friendly boat buffer machine that can also work on your cars too!
Regular users praise the machine’s practical, ergonomic grip that can easily be adjusted to different angles and holding positions. The adjustable handle makes tricky buffing jobs a hundred times easier.
All in all, the Porter-Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Polishes is a compact unit that’s easy to operate. Each unit comes with a 6 inch polishing pad as standard, and the machine can accommodate 5/16 to 24 spindle thread accessories.
Lastly, it’s covered by a 3 year warranty against manufacturing defects, as well as a one year free service contract, covering service and parts replacement for any damages caused during normal use. That’s not a bad deal at all.
Diameter: 6 inch
Power: 4.5 Amp
RPM: 2,500-6,800 OPM
Weight: 5.75 lbs
Features: It has a very decent 3 year warranty and 1 year service scheme
3. Makita 9237CX3 7” Polisher & Polishing Kit
When it comes to power tools, Makita is a very popular brand. The Makita 9237CX3 7” Polisher is a highly-regarded dual action buffing machine which can handle all boat buffing jobs with ease. Now, this buffing kit is a little more expensive than some of the other products on our list, but it does come with a lot included. Since it’s such a comprehensive kit, it’s a great investment for beginners. However, it’s also a high-quality tool so it’s ideal for professional detailers too.
The kit includes the buffing machine, a D-handle, a side handle, a Velcro backing plate, high-quality polishing pads, one wool bonnet, and a useful storage bag.
The actual buffer features a powerful 10 amp motor that can spin the polisher from speeds of zero to 3500 rpm. It has a soft start function for gentle starts, and a variable speed dial that helps you find the perfect speed for the job in hand. It also features a constant speed controller system that maintains speed even when under load.
The kit comes with two handle options for added comfort (including a side handle). A lock-on button has also been installed to keep your hands from getting tired.
The tool also has a mesh intake cover that shields wool fibers from entering the internals. Talking of which, the brushes are easy to access, making maintenance very easy on this machine. Just in case: Makita ships these buffers with a one year warranty. This is an invaluable boat detailing tool.
Diameter: 7 inch
Power: 10 Amps
RPM: 0 – 3,000 RPM
Weight: 7 lbs
Features: This is an all inclusive kit from a premium tool manufacturer.
4. Rupes LHR21ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher
This dual action orbital polisher from Rupes is one of the best boat buffer machines on sale. The brand has been manufacturing quality tooling since the 40s, so they know what they’re talking about when they make a boat polishing machine. The brand’s best model, the Rupes LHR21ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher, is arguably the best boat buffer and the best car polisher out there.
Equipped with a powerful 500 Watt electric motor that can spin the buffing wheel to speeds between 2,500 and 4,700 orbits per minute, this random orbit action boat polisher has the power to buff out scratches and imperfections of any shape, size, or depth, with ease.
Other handy features include a soft start function, variable speed settings that ensure that you get the right amount of spin for the job in question, and an anti-spin function that stops high speed spinning that may cause scratches. There’s also an electronic feedback module that maintains constant spinning speed while under load.
The product gets its name from the large 21 mm orbit profile, which is a fair sized area, and ideally suited for tackling large work pieces like boat hulls. If you have a large boat, this is definitely a buffer to consider.
It does have a higher price tag, but this speed polisher is a cut above the rest. It even has carbon fiber hand rests! There’s a 12 month warranty that protects you against manufacturing defects too.
Diameter: 6 inch
Power: 500 W
RPM: 2,000 – 4,200 OPM
Weight: 5.73 lbs
Features: The large 21 mm orbit profile is ideal for boaters with large areas to buff.
5. Griot’s Garage 10813STDCRD Random Orbital Polisher
Next, we have an excellent random orbital polisher from Griot’s Garage. The 10813STDCRD is a popular polisher that comes in two variations. There’s the 10813STDCRD, with a 10 foot power cord, or the 10813LNGCRD, which has an extra long 25 foot cord. Both are great boat buffer polisher machines, but because we don’t like tripping over extra-long cables, we’ve selected the 10813STDCRD.
This buffer’s 7 amp, 850 Watt motor is capable of delivering a maximum OPM of 6,800, with 6 selectable speed setting controls. The result is an exceptionally powerful boat buffer that doesn’t require much effort on the part of the user. You won’t have to put your weight behind this one to see results! It has a high rate of oscillation, a good weight, and it delivers professional-grade results. You won’t get any swirl marks from this speed buffer
To make things easier on the hands, this Griot’s Garage boat detailing buffer comes equipped with an adjustable loop handle, with six pre-set positions. The handle has a rubberized grip for better control, and it features molded finger grips on the body of the machine to help evenly distribute the weight of the buffer without it slipping away.
This is an affordable polisher that can deliver professional results but is also easy enough for a first time detailer to use. Plus, it comes with a lifetime guarantee against defects, with a 180 day money back guarantee.
Diameter: 6 inch
Power: 850 Watt
RPM: 6800 OPM
Weight: 6.9 lbs
Features: This is a very powerful polisher for such a cheap price.
Boat Buffers: A Buying Guide
A boat buffer is a small, handheld device that can make polishing and waxing your boat a much easier task. A good buffing can really enhance the shine and finish of your boat’s gel coat, and carefully waxed parts of your boat’s surface can boost its performance too: reducing drag and improving fuel economy! But to get the best results, you’ll need a good quality buffing machine and a decent wax or cutting compound.
To really bring out your boat’s shine and to smooth out imperfections, you need to work that wax and cutting compound right into your boat’s fiberglass hull. If you want to do that by hand, you certainly can, but it will take a lot of time, effort, and energy.
Polishing a boat by hand takes a long time, and that’s why you need a dedicated boat buffer. Buffing your boat without one would take a lot of effort, and since they’re not particularly expensive, it makes more sense to buy one than not! However, there are so many on the market, how do you know which one you need? We’ve put together a quick buying guide to help point you in the right direction, so that you can make sure you’re buying the best boat buffer for your needs. Here’s all you need to know.
Boat Buffer Types
Before your search for a new polisher can begin, it’s worth noting that there are two different kinds of boat buffer on the markets:
Orbital buffers are polishing units that are designed to deal with light scratches. They’re orbital rather than rotational, and this means that the polishing pad and backing plate rotate on a difference axis to the spindle. The result is a non-circular motion that vibrates rather than spins. Since they don’t spin, they’re very easy to use.
In appearance, they look like other sanding machines, and they share many similar features such as a variable speed feature. They can be used with foam pads and microfiber pads, and they’re ideal for removing minor defects, applying wax or polish, and producing an excellent shine.
Orbital buffers are considered to be some of the best boat buffers because of how easy they are to use. It’s very hard to cause imperfections with one, and they’re not aggressive enough to dig in new scratches. Thanks to the either the fixed o random orbit motion, an even finish is guaranteed almost all of the time. This is the best tool for beginner buffers.
A rotary buffer is a more advanced tool. At first glance, it will resemble an ordinary looking angle grinder, and it does share a lot of the same DNA. These rotary buffers are stronger than orbital buffers, and they spin at a higher speed. The spindle and polishing pad move in a single direction with a circular motion They’re ideally suited for removing deeper scratches. But because they’re more powerful and spin faster, they’re a lot harder to use and they take time to master.
Most of them come equipped with a dual action motion, a variable speed control, and the option of attaching multiple pads, such as a wool pad, compounding pad, buffing pad, foam pad, and other useful pad types. Rotary buffers are some of the best polishers for cars and boats—if you know how to use them.
Important Features To Look Out For
Once you’ve designed what type is the best boat buffer for your needs, it’s time to look at the features on offer. Here are some of the most important things to consider before investing in a new polisher:
You might have seen the term “random orbit” used when you’ve been searching. This function can be very useful. It means that the angle that the pad and head spin on is variable, orbiting on an elliptical path rather than in a circular, rotational method. This is great for getting even results across uneven surfaces, though it might not be particularly useful on large boat surfaces, which are typically even. Still, it’s a worthy feature to have and it’s ideal for getting perfect results.
Look at what speeds that your desired buffer rotates or orbits at. A higher RPM or OPM is great for large areas, such as across your boat’s hull. That should help you deal with larger areas faster. A slow speed is also important too. Smaller, fiddly areas are best served with a slow speed. Slower speeds allow you to detail with more caution. For the best results, we recommend that you find a buffer with a variable speed control, so that you can choose the speed that you need for the area that you’re working on.
A heavy-duty machine doesn’t have to be heavy in nature. In fact, if a buffer is too heavy it’s not going to be particularly useful to you here. Even though the machine is doing the bulk of the work, you’ll still have to hold it and direct it, and boat hulls aren’t small areas. You should choose a buffer that you can comfortably lift and operate over long periods of time. If you start to tire, your finish will suffer for it! A good buffer will be light enough for you to operate, with plenty of grab handle locations for you to get a confident grip of the machine with.
Buffing machines vibrate. Some more than others! Since all of these tools use strong motors that cause vibration as they spin, dealing with vibration is an inescapable part of using a boat buffer. Vibrations can make working uncomfortable. They can affect your hands and arms, and interfere with your polishing results too. While you can’t get rid of vibrations, you can try finding a machine that vibrates less than others.
There aren’t many metrics out there that measure just how much a machine vibrates, so you’re going to have to read the review sections online for honest testimonies about just how wild a machine is! It’s worth doing your research on though. Too much vibration can really turn an easy job into a nightmare.
If the vibration and weight of a machine are likely to bother you, then it’s important to find a machine with decent comfort grips and adjustable handle positions. Holding anything heavy (and that vibrates) over a long period of time will lead to discomfort, sore muscles, and blistered palms.
A good way to avoid too much discomfort is to find a machine that grips nicely in your hands. A rubberized palm rest or handle can go a long way. Adjustable handles and grips are even better, allowing you to take the weight of the machine from a different position when one part of your body gets too tired.
If you’re going to invest in a new tool, you want it to be robust. It needs to be manufactured from high quality components and fitted with enough top of the range protection to prevent regular breakdowns. That should all go without saying. However, good features to look out for include: wool ingestion shields (which prevent wool from getting sucked into your machine and harming it), a cord guard (that stops your cord from getting bent and potentially severed), and easy access to the machine’s innards for easy servicing.
Motor brushes occasionally need replacing, so buying a machine that allows for you to replace them yourself is an excellent choice.
The best boat buffers will also ship with some kind of buyer protection in the form of a money-back guarantee or warranty. A warranty can be very useful, and we don’t recommend buying something without some kind of warranty.
In Summary: What Is The Best Boat Buffer?
Choosing the best is difficult, since there are so many different variables at play, and different boaters have very different needs. Here are what we’d select as out best of the best, for a variety of different boaters.
For boaters on a budget, we would recommend the Porter-Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Marine Buffer. Not only is it inexpensive, it’s also very easy to use. It’s the best beginner boat buffer, thanks to its non-aggressive, random orbit. What’s more, it even ships with a 3 year warranty.
If you’ve got more cash to spare and want to invest in a heavy-duty tool that will do the job and then some, then we’d recommend the Rupes LHR21ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher. It’s big, powerful, and very reliable. This quality buffer is a little expensive, but it’s backed up by thousands of positive reviews.
Lastly, if you want the best boat buffer you can buy that offers the best value for money and balances a reasonable price tag with big performance, then our choice for the best overall would be the DeWalt DWP849X Variable Speed Buffer. It has a shopping list of top shelf features, including a random orbit pattern, variable speed controls, and a very attractive warranty—all for a reasonable price.
Pickering Cheryl on June 21, 2020
I want to buy this but I was confused because I dont know whhich product is the best. Your post is really useful for me. The second product, does that have a variable speed trigger?
Ross Kendall on July 16, 2020
This was most helpful; well laid out, analytics clear. I did buy the DeWalt variable speed with extra pads package. We’ll see how fast I can master this beast.
Oliver on September 30, 2020
DEWALT is a great polisher, especially for large areas. The polishing wheel is flexible enough to get into most spaces, but a smaller polisher is still needed for some locations due to the size of this polisher. I wish I had purchased this many years ago and saved myself tons of time!
Robert Hogward on November 5, 2021
I have saved some time searching my best boat buffing tool that is worth the quality and money. Choosing the best buffing tool among competitive models and top-brands in the market is difficult and takes some time. Thanks for sharing
Dalton Bourne on September 9, 2022
I found the Avid Power Polisher while browsing through articles on how to make my boat look new. It helped me save a lot of money from hiring a professional to get rid of the scratches on my boat. It’s a wise decision to get this and do it myself. First off, with its powerful motor with a random orbital polisher, it can remove scratches, swirl marks, and other defects seen on the painted surface of the boat.