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First you will not regret it!
When attempting to do your own body work there will be a few tools that you will need to complete the job. There are there are some essential tools that you will need, some tools that make the job easier and some tools that are not necessary if you are just going to do one car or just a few.
First, there are some tools that are essential to getting the job done. You will need some power tools; some sort of a grinder, a random orbital sander, a cutoff tool (with the right grinder you can use it for grinding and cutting), a drill and a good set of drill bits, a buffer and buffing pads, paint gun, paint masks and gloves. You will need some essential hand tools sanding blocks, body hammers and dollies, a good set of hand tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, sockets, etc….) help in disassembly, body filler spreaders and a good sledge hammer.
Second, there are some tools that make the job easier. Tools that make the job easier include stud welders for dent removal. Welders ( these are not needed anymore with the adhesives that they currently have) An air compressor( the only tool that you would need this for is the paint gun and if you talk to some of your local body shops some of them will rent you a paint booth with access to an air compressor for a weekend, there is also an electric set up for painting but I am not familiar with it so I can not say how good it works). A porta-power, slide hammers, certain powered sanders and plastic welders.
Third, most of the tools in the above paragraph are not essential they make the job easier but are primarily used when you are trying to make a living doing bodywork. You will not need a paint booth, with some well placed fans you can create the same effect, you do not need a frame machine you can either have a shop do it for you or if it is minor a 10 ton porta-power can do some amazing things.
Finally, when buying the above tools you do not have to buy the most expensive, I made that mistake when first doing bodywork for a living. Remember that you do not have to go crazy buying tools if you are not going to do that often. Some of blocks can be made with a simple piece of PVC pipe you can make some of your dollies be creative it is surprising sometime what a little bit of ingenuity can make.
4 1/2" Grinder
When wet sanding use a bucket of water and keep the area you are sanding wet and use the bucket to keep your paper clean.
Always keep your sander flat on the panel you are sanding if you do not you will make the work you are doing look wavy. Always start the sander on the panel so you do not make a div it. Use 80 grit for body work, 120 to 180 to finish body work, use 220 for stripping paint, 320 to 400 for finish work.
8" inch Orbital Sander:
Always keep your sander flat on the panel you are sanding if you do not you will make the work you are doing look wavy. Always start the sander on the panel so you do not make a div it. Use this sander to remove large amounts of body filler quickly.
17" x 2-3/4 to 30" Sanding Board
Long Board Sander
MIG Flux Wire Welder
When using a paint gun make sure to overlap evenly. The pattern should be wide and even for proper paint application. When you overlap, overlap about half each time this will make the finished product even.
Seam Sealer Gun
Trim Removal Tools
Step One Body repair
When you are ready to do your body work you will need to make sure that you grind your paint off with aggressive sandpaper or grinding wheel. Smooth the metal or plastic as smooth as you can get it. When you do this it will make the rest of the job easier. Try to get behind the area to push out the dent as much as possible. The old way to get these dents out is with a bunch of drilled holes, the problem with that, if you do not have a welder the holes will promote rust. You can use your hand to determine if there are low spots or high spots. Use a thin piece of cloth on your hand it will help you feel more. When you get this all done you will need to finish this off with fine sandpaper. Start with 36 grit to grind, 80 grit for finish the filler, and finish the paint with 120-180 grit sandpaper. Keep in mind if the fill becomes thick than ¼ of an inch you will have problems with cracking. To determine if the filler is to thick, use a refrigerator magnet and feel the pull. The less pull the thicker the filler.
Clean, Clean, Clean and Clean More!:
The most important thing you can do for a awesome paint job is to clean the automobile. Start with standard dish soap, this strips any car wax off of the paint. Then use a good wax and grease remover this will remove any road tar and grease that the dish soap can not remove.
When using body filler use the best quality filler that your budget will allow. The others work but they shrink more than the higher quality fillers do and the good stuff sands easier.
No thicker than a 1/4 of an inch. Any filler will crack and fall out!
Use standard non lotion soap to clean your automobile to strip any automotive wax from your automobile. The wax causes fish eyes.
When working with the fiberglass resin read the directions on the can do not proceed with out doing so. When working with fiberglass tape your sleeves shut so the dust does not get everywhere. When done take a cold shower to rinse off with so that you pores do not open up and cause you a big itch fest.
There are many different items that will need ground down. From the paint to get read for dent repair to grinding of welds and panel adhesives that are to rough for finer grit sanding.
If you do not have a welder you can use panel adhesive. Use the right one and you will have a better repair then if you welded the panel. With a weld you will never be able to get sealers in all of the nooks and crannies of the weld. With an adhesive you do not have to worry about that everything can be treated. The new adhesives have been test extensively; they have found that the metal will give before the adhesive does.
There are many different plastic items on your automobile that might need repaired. The best thing to do is go to the website of the manufacture of the product to find out what you will need for the repair. You can also get a plastic welder which allows you to add plastic to the area and melt them together.
You will want to kill all of the rust with a treatment so that it slows down the rust. You will never be able to completely stop rust unless you lock your automobile away. Weather, Seasons, Humidity, nature will fight you all the way but you can slow it down.
File papers are for your long sanding blocks.
There are many different sanding machines that you can use to sand your repair and they require special sand paper for the tool.
Wet sanding paper is constructed so that it will not break down when used in water.
Seam sealer does just what it sounds like it seals seams. Use this around panels that you have replaced so that you do not have air, dust and sound coming in from outside.
Step Two Primer Filler
When you are about to prime your body work make sure that you finish the filler with 80 grit sandpaper and feather the paint with 120 grit sandpaper. Finishing the work this way it will make so that there will be less of chance of shrinkage. Shrinkage is caused by scratches being to deep, paint not feathered correctly or a reaction with the old painted surface. When shrinkage happens you will be able to see it in your finished paint. Now that you have primed your automobile you will need to block the primer. Do not forget to sand and sand and sand. The more time you spend here, shooting for perfection, will save you time later. If this step is not done right your finished product will show you. When you prime your automobile make sure you spend time masking every area that you do not want primer. It is amazing where this over spray can end up. When I first started doing body work I did not cover the areas good enough and I got primer over spray all over the interior of an automobile this gets expensive and disheartening. Do not for get sand, sand and oh yea sand some more!
Used to spray on bare metal when you want something that will penetrate the surface and make so that it will not rust. I sprayed my Nova with this stuff and it went through a rain storm and sat for 3 weeks with no extra finish and I did not even get a smidgen of face rust. Needless to say I am a fan!
Blow Gun:Using a air blow gun will get rid of the dust in all of knocks and crannies that you can not get to. Clean clean clean is the one thing you can do to have a presentable finished product.
When you are finish sanding use the guide coat to show you where any imperfections are. As you sand off the primer and the guide coat the guide coat will stay in the low spots showing you where anything that looks like a dent is.
Masking paper is a good tool to use because it will not hold dust will not bleed through and makes for an all around cleaner paint job. Newspaper will work but it will let paint bleed through the paper causing a big mess, I have used it in a pinch.
Make sure that you use masking tape rated for automotive finishes. The adhesive on the cheaper tapes will not hold, or they hold to good leaving all of their adhesives and coming off in small pieces at a time. The tap causes a mess either way.
A good high build primer filler will fill any of the small low spots that have been missed. When you use a high build primer filler and block the area with a long block it will help you make the panel flat with no waviness.
I always used a gun dedicated to primer alone. Primer gets into every nook and cranny and if you do not get your gun clean enough the paint solvents will loosen them up and will show up it your paint job. You will not have to change the tips a needles all the time either. A good primer gun starts with a 1.8 tip, I used a 2.2 the bigger tip will cause runs and solvent popping if you are not careful, I would start with the smaller tip first and graduate to the larger if you think it is needed.
Use a strainer every time that you put any of the product in your paint gun from primer to clear coat. You do not want to get a chunk of settled product in the paint job.
Step three Primer Sealer
Now you are ready for sealer. Some people mistake primer sealer and primer filler. Sealer is the step you use before you spray your color. Filler is used to fill any tiny imperfections in your finished body work. The small sand scratches and helps the paint adhere to your repair.
Use this cleaner as a scrub to get any other residue off of your panels. This will also clean the yellow off of white panels that you are going to blend into. Keep in mind this leaves a residue that will need to be cleaned of before you put any paint product on.
When you use epoxy it forms a barrier around your automobile that keeps out impurities. That is good however if you do not do take the proper steps to prep your automobile it also locks those mistakes in and can cause problems. If you drive down the road and you get a rock chip in the car that goes to the metal and breaks that barrier, at the point of the chip you will start to get rust crepe because the epoxy will hold in the moisture. There is a time and place for epoxy like everything, become familiar with the product you are using.
Latex Gloves help keep the paint job clean by keeping any oil from your skin getting on the job. If you are hairy like me it will also keep any hair on your hands from showing up in the finished job.
A paint suit keeps lint and dust away from your paint.
There are many different kinds of sealers depending on what you are doing. These help to cover your repair also so that it covers with the paint a lot better.
In between each coat of product be sure to use a tack cloth to remove any dust or over spray residue. If you are getting a lot of over spray residue chances are you are using the wrong hardener or reducer for the air temperature . Use a tack cloth before spraying in step three, four and five. This will help so that you will have a cleaner finished product.
Step Four Paint
Now you are ready to put on your color. You have two options when you do this the first; base clear and the second; single stage. Base clear is a procedure where you spray on a base coat of the color that you want. When you get the base coat on your automobile then you will have one more step which consists of clearcoat. This method is by far the most durable it does not fade like single stage paint and you do not have to worry as much when you are shooting metallics, however it is more costly and time consuming. Single stage is just that it is one single step and you have shiny paint job, and it is inexpensive. There are a few tricks to use when shooting metallics because if it is not done right it will look like you have tiger stripes or blotches all over your automobile. Something that I learned when shooting the metallics to make them set right, on your last coat reduce the color down to the point of a very runny liquid and mist it over the entire paint job. This will help the metallics settle where they are supposed to. If you put to much on and it runs you will not be able to buff it out like you can clearcoat. There is one trick you can do with a single stage that makes the luster of the product seem super deep. You can clear coat the single stage and have a very deep appearing finished product that almost looks like you could reach into it. The old lacquer days of putting "28 coats" of paint does to exist with the high quality paints of present day. You should only need two coats of sealer, three coats of color and up to three coats of clear (three coats are needed when doing a lot of buffing) but you usually only need two coats.
Step Five Clearcoat
Clear is the final and a very important step when refinishing your automobile. The clear on your automobile does a lot of important things. It adds protection from the elements, it adds beauty to the finished product and life to your hard earned finished job. When you clear your automobile spray it as even as you can, this helps prevent orange peel, dry spots and gives you a good base when you want to buff. One of the tricks that I was told to do as a teaching tool was to get a metal panel and spray water through your paint gun on the panel, when you can get so that the water does not run and looks even you are ready to spray. Above I said that you can put up to three coats of clear for buffing it is to make so that it is thick enough to sand down. One of the old tricks that still works today to make a paint job as flat as possible, after your second coat of clear let it cure overnight and wet sand it with 600 grit sand paper, as long as you have sprayed the automobile evenly you will not cut through as you are sanding you will see the orange peel and dust disappear. Now put an additional coat or two of clear on but be careful it is slick and everything will end up on the floor. When the clear dries now it will look like glass.
Step Six Detail/Buff