If you want to get your car looking in concours condition a cutting pad or disc can help remove moderate surface defects such as heavy swirl marks, scratches, and oxidation. A good quality cutting pad will take the heat generated from heavy cutting compound and spread it evenly over the surface of your car.
In this guide we are going to show you some of the best cutting pads and discs that will be perfect for getting your vehicle’s paintwork in tip top condition.
Best Cutting Discs & Pads for Removing Surface Imperfections
Meguiar’s DMC6 DA 6″ Microfiber Cutting Disc
Meguiar’s DA Microfibre Cutting Disc is perfect for quickly and effectively removing scratches, swirls, rain marks and more from your vehicle’s paint. The DA Cutting Disc is designed to cut through moderate surface defects without creating any swirls and the foam surface has been engineered to provide optimal cutting efficiency and controlled conformity.
The 6-inch size allows for excellent control and results, and the discs are machine washable so you can reuse them over and over again. Meguiar recommends using the DA Cutting Disc with their MT300 Dual Action Polisher and DA Microfiber Correction Compound for optimal results, however, other options will work perfectly fine as well.
In the package you will receive two DMC6 DA 6” Microfiber Cutting Discs. Meguiar is one of the word’s leading providers in car care products and the DA Cutting Disc has a nearly 5-star rating with well over 1,000 reviews. A small number of owners have found that the discs failed at the seams, but the overwhelming majority seem to be very happy with the product.
If you are looking for a few more cutting discs, Meguiar also offers a 12-pack version of the DA 6” Microfibre Cutting Disc. This larger pack version can be viewed here.
- 6-inch cutting disc
- Two discs in a pack
- Machine washable and reusable
- Perfect for removing moderate surface defects
Chemical Guys 6.5-inch Orange Microfiber Cutting Pad
This cutting pad from Chemical Guys is designed to remove heavy swirl marks, scratches, and oxidation. Chemical Guys have designed the Orange Microfiber Cutting Pad to work best with polishing compounds and cutting polishes to achieve the best finish on paintwork that has had years of neglect.
The Orange Euro-Tech foam that is used to create this Cutting Pad is designed to take heat created from heavy compounding and distribute it evenly over the surface. The pad’s extra-thick microfiber layer takes the compound and deposits it into swirl marks and scratches to level the surface, improving the finish of the paintwork.
Chemical Guys have updated the design of their pad with a bevelled edge that makes it easier to fit into tight areas and the pad works with both rotary and dual-action polishers. They have also included a centre vent hole cover that helps to cool the pad during extended polishing sessions.
The package contains one Chemical Guys Orange Microfiber Cutting Pad that is 6.5-inches in size (other sizes are available). Reviews of this cutting pad are excellent with nearly 400 reviews and nearly a five star rating. The only complaint from some buyers is that the back part between the Velcro attachment and the foam broke during use, however, this seems to be a very small number of users.
- Bevelled edge that makes the pad easier to fit into tight areas
- 5-inch size (4- and 5-inch sizes are also available)
- Good for removing heavy swirl marks, scratches and oxidation
- Can be used with both rotary and dual-action polishers
Meguiar’s DFC5 Soft Buff Dual Action 5” Foam Cutting Disc
If you are looking for a foam cutting disc, Meguiar’s DFC5 DA (Dual Action) 5-inch Cutting Disc is one of the best around. The DFC5 features improved foam technology and can cut through moderate surface defects without creating swirls.
The innovative low-profile pad provides increased disc and tool efficiency, giving you the best performance and finish. A hook and loop system keeps the foam disc firmly attached (essentially a Velcro attachment) to the backing plate at all times, and the foam cutting disc itself is machine washable and reusable.
Meguiar does recommend using the DFC5 foam cutting disc with their MT300 Dual Action Polisher and their DBP5 backing plate for optimal results, but other polishers should be compatible as well.
The DFC5 is one of the best foam cutting discs on the market with a 4.8 star rating and nearly 400 reviews. Some buyers have complained of flaking or splits in the foam material, but this seems to be a very small minority.
- 5-inch foam pad
- Perfect for removing moderate surface defects
Buff and Shine URO-Fiber Microfiber Multipurpose Pad
If you are looking for a pad that can do it all, Buff and Shine’s URO-Fiber Microfiber Pad is an excellent option. It is perfect for not only cutting, but also buffing, waxing and polishing as well. The multipurpose pad is made possible by the addition of both cutting and polishing fibres that are blended together into one pad.
The pad can be used to remove scratches and swirls from your vehicle’s paintwork and the lower pile height allows the applicator to get a deeper defect removal. Buff and Shine have designed their multipurpose pad to be as durable as possible, so that it will last multiple tough polishing and cutting sessions.
One pad is included in the pack, however, for those who need more a 6 pad pack is also available. Reviews are generally excellent, but buyers recommend washing the pad before use as there are some left over fibres and dust from production that may damage the clear coat on your vehicle (a good idea for any car).
- Multipurpose, use this pad for cutting, polishing, buffing and more.
- Low pile height for deeper defect removal
Cyclo Yellow Fine Foam Cutting Pad (Four Pack)
Do you need a fine cutting pad at a low price? Cyclo’s Yellow Fine Foam Cutting Pads come in a pack of four and they are excellent for getting a professional finish. They are designed to work with Clyco Toolmakers’ Polisher but polishers/buffers from other brands will work as well.
The Yellow Fine 72/135 Cutting Pad is Cyclo’s third most aggressive of the six foam pads offered by the company and each pad in the pack is 4-inches in diameter. They are manufactured from a pre-polymer polyester technical foam that offers superior durability and tear-resistance.
Cyclo’s Yellow Fine Cutting Pads are extremely well received on Amazon with a 4.8 start rating at the time of writing. They seem to be very durable and the price is excellent for a pack of four pads.
- Excellent price
- 4-inch pad
- Durable foam construction
- Perfect for a fine finish
Meguiar WRWHC7 7” Rotary Wool Heavy Cutting Pad
If you would prefer a wool cutting pad, Meguiar’s WRWHC7 Heavy Duty Cutting Pad is an excellent option. It is 7-inches in size with 1-inch twisted wool fibres for faster cutting. The flat pad design expands the cutting area and reduces buffing time.
The pad is intended to be used with rotary polishers and Meguiar’s Soft Buff Rotary Backing Plate (WRBP) or Soft Buff Rotary Soft Backing Plate (WRSBP).
This pad is extremely durable but it is important to clean and dry it before use as many buyers have found that excess wool has come off during their first use of the product, making a bit of a mess in the process.
- Durable wool construction with 1-inch twister fibres
- 7-inch pad for large surface area coverage
Cutting Disc & Pad Buyer’s & Information Guide
A cutting disc can help remove moderate surface imperfections on your vehicle’s paintwork such as scratches, swirls and rain marks.
What is a Cutting Disc or Pad?
Cutting discs and pads are usually made from a variety of materials such as foam, wool or some sort of microfibre material. In the most basic sense, you would use a cutting pad with compound while a polishing pad should be used with polish, and a finishing pad should be used with wax/sealant.
A cutting pad is usually more aggressive than a polishing or finishing pad and is normally the first step in removing surface defects. Once the surface imperfections have been cleaned up with a cutting pad, a polishing pad is then used, and to finish up a finishing pad with wax or sealant is used to restore and protect the surface finish.
Wool vs Foam vs Microfibre
With three main types you are probably wondering which is the best? Here’s a quick rundown of them and their benefits.
Wool pads are the traditional option and they can only usually be used on rotating machines as they can’t handle the eccentric forces of a dual action polisher. There are some wool options that do work on dual action machines, but check with the manufacturer of the pad before doing this.
The biggest advantage of wool is that it generates less heat than a microfibre pad. Wool tends to give the best results on gelcoat, very soft lacquers and sticky paint. The downside of wool is that it is less suitable for a fine finish due to the small scratches that the coarse hair can leave behind. One other downside is that a wool pad can be messy the first time you use it if you don’t wash and dry it properly prior to use.
Foam pads come in a variety of forms with some being manufactured out of soft foam, while others have a coarser structure. Cutting Pads are usually the latter as they are designed to quickly remove surface imperfections and then polishing and finishing pads are used to give a better final finish.
Foam pads are usually not as abrasive as a wool pad, which makes them better for final finishing but worse for really heavy duty cutting. However, for most uses on a car, a foam pad will be perfectly fine for compounding/cutting. One big advantage of a foam pad is that they are much easier to clean than something like a wool pad and they don’t shed little bits of hair (they should still be washed before use).
Good quality microfibre pads tend to be very good a cutting due to the many hairs on them (just like a wool pad), but they are also good at final finishing as the hairs are softer than wool. They can be used on both rotating and dual action polishers and they tend to be good at removing deep scratches. A microfibre cutting pad is probably going to be a better all-round pad and many are advertised as multipurpose.
Why Is Using a Cutting Pad a Good Idea?
Cutting/compounding, polishing and waxing your car is a good idea as it helps to improve the finish and overall look of your vehicle. Keeping the paintwork of your car in tip-top condition will reduce the likelihood of any body related issues and will make it more valuable if you do decide to sell it in the future.
A cutting disc or pad can also bring new life to the paintwork of a vehicle. If you are looking to get a car that has been neglected back into shape, cutting, polishing and waxing will help you achieve this.
Getting the Best Results with a Cutting Pad
- Wash and dry the vehicle thoroughly to remove any loose contaminants.
- Use a clay bar to remove any bonded contaminants if the paint feels rough to the touch following the wash.
- Inspect the paint finish under direct sunlight or a detailing light to see if you can find any below surface defects such as oxidation, scratches, swirl marks, or etchings from bird droppings.
- Use a cutting disk or pad with a compound to remove any moderate defects
- Following compounding, move onto polishing the paint with a polishing disc/pad.
- Finally, use a finishing disc or pad with wax to clean up any very light defects and to enhance the gloss of the paint.
- Make sure that the vehicle is in the shade and is cool to the touch before you start compounding, polishing and waxing (don’t do it in direct sunlight).
- Apply some cutting compound to the cutting disc – remember a little bit goes a long way.
- Set the correct speed for your machine and place the disc or pad firmly against the paint before turning the polisher on.
- Use moderate pressure and slow overlapping movements in a cross hatch shape.
- When the compound appears to be very thin, stop compounding and immediately wipe off any residue with a microfibre towel (do this before it disappears completely).
- Inspect the section you have gone over and repeat if necessary. If it looks good, move onto the next section of the car.
- Add more compound if needed, but do not use too much
- Clean the polishing pad frequently with a pad brush and/or compressed air
- Continue working around the vehicle until the defects are removed.
Things to Consider When Buying a Cutting Disk
Here are some things to consider when purchasing a cutting disk:
Material – we have already discussed this above, but you need to think about what sort of material you want. Do you need a wool cutting disk for quicker results? Or do you want a multipurpose product made from microfibre?
The type of polisher you have – Some cutting pads or discs will not work well with some types of polishers (wool pad and dual action polisher for example).
Size of pad – Do you need a bigger or smaller pad? Depending on the size of pad you go for you will need to get the right size of backplate as well. Bigger pads will cover more surface area but they will be harder to squeeze into tighter areas of your vehicle.
Longevity & Price – Generally, like with most things, a higher quality product is going to last longer than a cheaper option. You can usually get a better price on cutting discs/pads if you buy in bulk rather than a single pad, so consider doing that.
Conclusion – Best Cutting Discs and Pads for Car Cleaning
Thanks for taking the time to read our guide on the best cutting discs and pads for finishing a vehicle. Make sure you take the time to look at our other product buyer’s guides as well, including the best portable lightweight car jacks, best paint thickness gauges, top portable jump starters, and the best car inspection cameras.