How to: - Body Work 101 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: Body Work 101

Prefix for threads which are instructional.

To begin Bondo is a product name for body filler.
I am not a fan of Bondo products.
I use Evercoat Rage Gold and Evercoat Metal Glaze.
It is a far superior body filler.

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Here is the dent the day it happened.
It is my assumption the Ex was shot with a pellet gun, seemingly aiming for the window.
Ugly. If you look at the reflection, you can see the dent is approximatley two inches
in diameter.

The dent was so close to the glass I removed both the glass and the trim so it would not get
damaged in the repair. I used several layers of masking tape to protect the rear glass.
The first step is to flatten the metal as much as possible. The thinner your mud ( body filler )
goes on the better. 1/8th of an inch is ideal, I would not go more than 1/4inch.
A stud welder is pricelss in body repair, however I try to use them only as a last resort.
This dent was an easy fix by just working the metal.
I had a buddy hold the flat side of a metal toe dolly flat on the out side of the dent.

I crawled inside the Ex and with a hammer and blunt point punch, and lightly tapped the dent outward.
It took only a short period of time, tapping in several locations, is several directions.
Nine times out of ten, it is best to work the dent out little by little to minimise stretching.


You can see the dent is MUCH flatter than previously. With out question, the flatter the better.


With a 36 grit disc on a grinder I removed ALL the paint one inch beond the damaged area.
36 grit is ideal because it is not so agressive it removes too much metal, but it does leave
deep scratches for the mud to grab a hold of. Note the thinning edges. Grinding the edges this way makes feather edging much easier.
Make sure you clean the area very well with compressed air. Dirt is your enimy.

Here is a dab of body filler with hardener. Note the ratio, also note the " Clean Sheets " mud board.
Mixing on cardboard is not a good idea because cardboard is fiberous and you can pick up little " hairs "
in your mud. Again, dirt is your enimy.


Here you see me mixing the mud. Note I am NOT stirring. You basically want to criss cross the mud and hardener, like you are spreading it onto the mud board. You can also see I am pressing down onto the board to push out the air bubbles. Air bubbles become pin holes. Note also I am NOT a Smurf, they are protective rubber gloves. Body filler is messy and will make your hands ugly for a few days.
When you get done spreading the mud CLEAN your spreader !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Use some thinner. Treat this fifty cent piece of plastic like a $100.00 tool.
Keep it spotless and don't let the mud dry on the spreader.


Put the mud on thick. The body filler really doesn't like to stick to paint, so keep it on the bare metal.
Let it dry. It should be hard and NOT tacky. Cold weather could take as much as ten to fifteen minutes
hot humid days less than three minutes


Before we start sanding the mud, a dust mask is EXTREMELY important.
Wear one when sanding. They are mere spare change each.


Start sanding with a small sanding block with 80 grit paper.
Sand up, down, left, right, and diagonally. Don't just go hog wild.
Sand across one way going all the way across the mud evenly with light pressure.
Smooth, even, consistant strokes.


The end result every thing should look like a cloud. Note how the edges have smoothed out.
You can also see the different layers of paint fade away the clear, the color and then the primer.
Ideally you want it to fade away. This is a feather edge. The longer and the smoother the feather edge the better.
It may take more than one coat of mud.
You may have low spots you need to refill, you may have high spots you need to tap down with a small punch.
Take your time, and do not rush.


Skim coat, also called top coat or metal glaze is thinner and runnier that body filler.
This stuff is NOT very effective at dent filling. It is designed to fill pin holes and scratches. That being said, make sure your filler mud is 100% correct.
Meaning, it is smooth, and had has the correct shape. Skim coat is intended for a finishing coat. If you need more than two coats of skim, you may have put it on too soon. This stuff will cling to a painted surface as long as it has at least 180 scratches.


Press this stuff on the panel, you want to make sure it fills the scratches and pin holes.


Go into the feather edge when spreading this stuff.
I start sanding this with 80 grit, but as soon an the " shine " goes away in the skim, I step
up to 180 grit.


Feel the mud work often. Hand flat, light pressure, finger tip to palm, smooth straight motions.
Close your eyes and / or look away. Other than texture from the painted area to the repaired area you should feel no waves, bumps, or edges. If you do, sand some more, or re-coat if necessary
If you are having a hard time feeling the work, some times it can help to have a thin tee shirt between your hand the the work.


This is what the finished product should look like. Again it looks like a cloud. There is
no sharp of drastic changes or edges.


Hit it with a soft pad DA ( dual action ) sander with 320 grit. Note the thick soft pad on the DA.
This soft pad will not alter the mud work. You want to make all the 180 grit scratches go away.
Be careful in this stage. You just want to smooth the scratches. Make sure you go beyond
your original work area with the 320 scratches.


Cover the truck in a plastic bag and prime. I put three coats on this one.

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Before you call it a day, make sure you spray some undercoating on the back of the metal work.
You can see in my metal work photo I scratched the inside of the metal pretty well. Let the prime dry over night.