How To Do Bodywork: Where To Start?

How to do bodywork...

This is one of the biggest factors in how your hotrod will look. Yet it's one of the biggest and scariest steps for many hotrod builders.

But it doesn't have to be!

We'll tackle this step by step...

People need to realize that shooting the paint is actually a small part of how to do bodywork. All the stuff that comes before that is the important part!

The best painter in the world can't make bad bodywork look good. But, good bodywork can make a so-so paintjob look great!

Good surface prep and bodywork is what makes or breaks a finish.

And you can do it!

Where to start?

With a clean car. Before you start anything (stripping, media blasting, bodywork, etc.) clean the car or part well. Wash the surface with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Dry it completely and use a air hose and blow out all the edges and cracks.

NOTE: Clean, dry air is critical to successful bodywork. If there is any water vapor or oil vapor coming through the airlines from the compressor, it will contaminate all your work. Get an oil/water seperator to go inline with your airhose. You can get them cheap and they will save your bodywork.

Now, wipe the surface with a good solvent cleaner (wax and grease remover) to remove all oils and grease before you do doing anything. You will want to do it again before spraying anything...

If you don't, anything you do is going to drive all those contaminates down into the finish or metal. They won't hide down there, though. They'll come back up to see you when you have finished, ruining all that work. So get rid of them now.

NOTE: Use products from the same manufacturer. You can't imagine how many problems are solved by doing this one step. Repeat this and learn it!

Now, before we get into the rest of the how to do bodywork articles, let's talk about taping up a car. You'll be doing it no matter what you do, so let's look at it.

Automotive grade masking tape and paper should be used to mask the areas that you don't want to get primer or paint on. Regular masking paper is best, but newspaper can be used. It will however have lint on it so you need to watch out for that. Use a tack cloth on it before you spray.

Don't use plastic drop cloths! You can use plastic to cover most of a car if you're doing one small spot, but don't use it near where you are working. Overspray will build up on it, and when you spray near it, the overspray will chip off into your work.

Just use 3M brand tape. DO NOT use cheap tape. You will thank me. It's much cheaper in the long run, and good tape won't ruin your work like cheap tape....

Paper edges that are not taped down will blow open during spraying and allow overspray to get beneath the paper. So ALWAYS run lines of tape along the edges of the paper to completely seal it.

Don't forget to mask doorjambs before spraying primer and paint. You won't believe how much paint can get between a closed door and the doorjamb when you don't want it to. If you need to prime and paint the door edges and doorjambs, then do them first and allow them to dry. After they have dried, mask off the inside of the door and the doorjamb. The door can then be closed and the exterior primed and painted.

Now let's decide what we need to do...

If your car has old paint without cracking or peeling, you can probably just repaint. If it has problems, then you will have to do some bodywork... See the next article in "How to do bodywork".

If you're just looking to repaint, then you need to get the surface ready.

The condition of the surface will determine the grit of paper to use. A very rough surface may call for 220-grit paper. In such a case re-priming will be necessary. Skip ahead to the article on Priming

If the surface is in good shape, and you're gonna use sealer, the surface can be sanded with 320 or 400 grit. If you're not gonna use sealer, the surface can be finish sanded with 500 or so grit paper and then painted as long as there's no bare metal showing. Done...

If you need to do bodywork, then let's continue on to the next article in how to do bodywork, How to Strip Your Car

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