One of the scariest aspects of vehicle restoration is body work, especially when it comes to filler and sanding. The worst thing to do is avoid it until the end, then be forced to pay someone else to get the work done. With help from Eastwood you’ll, learn all the correct steps to basic body work, save money, and feel more accomplished in the end.
Above you’ll see the small dent that I’ll be repairing, very similar to a door ding you may get in a parking lot.
1. First clean the area you will be repairing, use PRE or acetone to remove any contaminants from the panel.
2. If necessary use a Hammer and Dolley and rough out any dents. Depending on the severity of the dent this may not be required. Filler should not be applied more than 1/4″ thick, any more and there is a risk it will crack. With that said, any damage less than 1/4″ deep may not need to be hammered out.
3. Sand the area about 5 inches on all sides of the dent with a 80 Grit Sanding Disc on a DA Sander. During this step do not worry about getting the area completely smooth, just remove the paint to expose bare metal around the dent. If you don’t have a DA Sander, a 120 Grit Flap Disc on an Angle Grinder can be used. (Be careful, Flap Discs tend to remove a lot of material, very quickly.)
4. Using 80 Grit Sand Paper, hand sand the edges of the paint removed area so there is a smooth transition from clear, to base coat, to primer, then to bare metal. Do not use anything finer than 80 Grit because the sanding scratches allow the filler to mechanically bond to the panel.
5. Mix and apply Contour Body Filler, make sure to use even pressure while applying. This will reduce the need to go back and apply more after you have sanded the first layer. While mixing make sure to follow the correct mixing ratio. If too much hardener is added you will not have enough time to effectively apply the filler evenly. Additionally make sure to use something other than cardboard to mix on. Small cardboard fibers can get into the filler and contaminate the mix. If you don’t have Quick Sheets, take a 1’x1′ piece of sheet aluminum and bend one side 2″ up to 90º. File the edges smooth and now you have a reusable mixing board that wont rust.
6. Use 80 Grit PSA on a Sanding Block for initial shaping, then 120 Grit PSA for finer smoothing. Then use an Blow Gun to remove sanding dust. During this step do not worry about getting the surface perfectly smooth, Glazing Putty is still to be applied.
7. Wipe down the panel with PRE or acetone to remove any contaminants and oils.
8. Mix Contour Glazing Putty making sure to follow the correct mixing ratios like stated above. Glazing Putty should be applied very thin because it’s purpose is to level any small imperfections still in the panel after the filling process.
10. Blow the sanding dust off using a Blow Gun, then spray the panel with a heavy coat of PRE. The heavy coat will help you detect imperfections. If the repair looks good wipe it down with a prep rag and you are ready to prime and paint.
Unless you are a pro, sanding blocks are the go to tool when leveling filler. You may see others using a DA Sander but this takes a lot of time and practice.