+1 for trying to do it yourself.
I have the simoniz variable speed orbital and the 3M system (pads & cut/polish, 1,3 & 5).
I'm not a particularly hardcore detailer, and basically learned how to do this on my e30, but if you read instructions well and pay attention, you'll get great results without burning paint.
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2002 TiAg M3 6mt
deoranged, dechromed, led tails, ZHP knob, UUC SS v3, GROM, OEM 220M 19's, Michelin Supersports
2006 YZF-R6, bunch of go-fast stuff