How to do Basic Body Work
Frequently, we prefer to complete our own work on our classics. Not because we have a deep-seated mistrust of our body guys, but more because we want to be able to say, "I did it." Keeping this in mind, I traveled back in time to when I was a youngster working in a body shop. Now I'm going to share with you a few techniques and tricks that I learned from seasoned professionals who had spent so much time sanding that they had developed their own layers of filler.
Set up a light to reflect down the panel you wish to inspect for dents. The light will aid in the detection of dings and dents. Your hands will also serve you well. Go slowly and close your eyes to detect most little dents with your hands before you can see them. Purchase a set of hammers and dollies. These are essential for both beginners and seasoned bodyworkers. Also, don't worry if you're a touch over-enthusiastic with the sandpaper; you'll be painting the area anyhow. Also, be mindful of how much filler you apply; you should never use more than 1/8 inch of filler on a repair.
Guide Coats: These are the absolute cream of the crop. The two most common types of guide coats are powder and normal light mist paint. Guide coats function by applying a thin coating of either dust or paint across the primer's surface. Primarily, they assist you to identify low places as you sand to a uniform, smooth primer coat. This brings a flawless paint job that much closer. I utilized guide coatings in conjunction with wet sanding because the steady flow of water kept the panel clean and prevented sanding residue from accumulating on my paper. The majority of powder guide coats are waterproof, as is the paint mist coat.
Sanding: Easy. Never, ever, ever, ever sand with bare hands. Always support your sandpaper with a sanding block, sponge, or something else. When sanding with a bare hand, your fingers will press harder than your palm, creating shallow grooves. Undoubtedly, no hand is flat. A sanding block will assure the success of your project. In addition, a light touch is sufficient. The sandpaper can complete the task without your assistance.
Straight Edge: An excellent tool to have on hand when performing bodywork with a dolly and hammer. I've discovered that a 2-foot steel or aluminum strip with a straight edge is the most useful tool in my garage. When trying to remove a large dent, the straight edge facilitates the identification of lows. Run a strip of masking tape down the edge to prevent paint scratches outside of the working area.
Self-tapping sheet metal screws create a straightforward and effective sheet metal "clamp."
A sheet metal screw is also known as a DIY welding clamp. You won't believe it until you try it, but this is the best panel replacement tool I've found. Install the panel, drill a pilot hole, insert a screw, or use a self-drilling screw. It will keep the panels in place while you weld them in, and a tiny spot weld will suffice to fill up the hole once you are finished.
Use some spare pieces of wood to hold the little trim pieces while buffing and polishing them. Use the factory-installed mounting holes to screw the trim to the wood. Provides a substantial grip and helps prevent warping caused by the heat generated by buffing and polishing.