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Some Helpful Hints for Do-it-Yourself Dent Repair

Rolling Canvas Customs’ Jay Webb gives us some tips on repairing a dent

Many of us out there are do-it-yourselfers. Some of us do it simply for the pride in knowing that we did most of the work that went into our ride. Others do it to save some bucks on a project. Given either of those two situations, some of us are more that happy to take on projects on our own cars. From engine work to body work we are more than happy to attempt the job ourselves, and learn a little in the process.

For those of us who may tackle repairing a dent in a panel on your car, or just want to know what processes may be used by a shop, Rolling Canvas Customs of Mesa was kind enough to share some tips on how to do the job correctly. Rolling Canvas specializes in restoring classic cars and fabricating one off customs for their customers. Here, owner Jay Webb gives us some insight on how to repair a dent.

A door with a huge crease/dent in it… approximately 18″ long and well over an inch deep. The area around the dent has been ground. This is to show actually how big the dent really is.
The dent is completely ground clean of its paint to begin the repair process. Copper studs are welded on to the area working from the outside edge of the dent in.
By doing this the panel has less warpage and will require minimal amounts of filler, whether it be lead or plastic.
The slide hammer used for pulling the studs. 

 

 

The crease is all pulled out… and is ready for a very thin coat of filler.
The plastic filler is applied to the entire area. The smother it is applied the easier it is to sand off. The flat black guide coat is used to tell us as we are sanding  whether we have a high spot or a low spot. The flat black guide coat in the previous photo is used to tell us as we are sanding  whether we have a high spot or a low spot. When you see metal it is typically a high spot. when most of the area is sanded and there is a black spot left it is still low.
We start with an 8″  sander to rough the area in shape. this is a fast way of getting the area in the right shape. you can also do this by hand, it just takes longer. This is what the roughed out area looks like when done.
Re-apply another thin coat of filler. We tend to used plastic filler because of its flexibility, cost effectiveness,and ease of working with. Lead can be done but it is more expensive, hard to find good lead, and holds moisture which causes rust. This time we start to hand block the area with the biggest block you have that will cover the area. The smaller the block the move waves you create. You want to block in a criss cross pattern working as much of the area at once as possible. block the area until you have no guide coat left and you have a nice even  surface. Bodywork as a whole is not about the visual… its about what you feel. Things can looks good and feel horrible. Which mean is will be wavy. The panel is finished and ready for some primer. Typically all filler work should be finished in 150 grit or 220 grit for the primer to fill the sanding scratches.

This is how we at Rolling Canvas Customs repair panels. That is not to say doing it another way is wrong, different situations require different approaches to the repair. This was just the typical way a dent is repaired/removed. The amount of filler used in this repair was an 1/8 th inch or less. Most magnets will not detect this amount of filler. If you have any questions or just want come in and shoot the B.S. with us, stop by.

Rolling Canvas Customs is located at 3015 E. Main Street in Mesa. They can be reached at 480-329-2136.

Arizona Auto Scene published a story on Rolling Canvas Customs in July, 2011. Click here to read that story.

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