Great Gaps: Step 3

A trademark of a great car, and great body work, is how well the panels fit. Gaps that are great can not only help the overall look of a car, they can take a car to the next level, giving it that perfect crisp dialed in look. There is much more to it than the width of the gaps being consistent. 

Steps 1 and 2 were to get all the panels flush first, and then do whatever metal work necessary to get the panel gaps completely consistent in metal. More than likely that consists of some welding, grinding, hand filing and probably some additional hammering. 

Step 3 is where the body work starts. In this step, we actually aren’t even worried about the gap at all. As a matter of fact, pretend as if the gaps aren’t even there. Here are some key points to this step:

  • All the panels should be closed, with their seals in. Don’t force anything closed, just shut the door as normal. Mix up some body filler, and put some dabs of filler in the door gap. Usually a dab on each end, and 1 or 2 in the center. This is to keep the panel from moving at all. 
  • Begin body work, one section at a time. The goal is to get the side of the vehicle to flow together as one big shape, and have the panels just cut into that shape. 
  • Use the aluminum flat stock that was used in Step 1 as a guide, and use it a lot. Use them to check what needs to be filled, what needs to be blocked, check the panels while you’re blocking. This speeds up the body work a lot; you won’t be blocking something that is already low, or filling an area that is already high. 
  • One section at a time!  Get sections established, and work off of each section.  This makes your body work not only faster, but much better.  
  • You can either tape over the gaps, or just not worry about them.  Do not pack the gaps with filler!!!  But, it is ok if a little filler hangs over each edge. If this happens a few times, the gap will appear to have been filled, even though the filler is just bridged over it.  This route makes block sanding easier and better.   You can come back with a cut off wheel when you’re done with body work and cut the gaps back open.  Just don’t push filler in the gaps; you’ll have a pretty big problem on your hands!   See picture below. 

The objective is to Make the side of the vehicle look like one continuous shape.  This is possibly even more important than a consist gap. If you did your metal work right, there should be little to no body filler on the edges.