How to know if your Body Work is straight.

When doing high quality complete body work and paint jobs, getting the body work really dialed in and straight is very important. The goal is to look down the vehicle and not see any ripples or low spots, but rather only see the shape that the overall vehicle is supposed to be, with no distortion, and completely flat paint. To do this requires skimming the entire vehicle with body filler, even if it doesn’t take much. 

One of the bigger challenges is getting the body work completely straight, sometimes over the span of several panels, with no low areas. 

  • Use aluminum flat stock or c-channel, depending on how much shape there is. Use as long of pieces as possible, and lay it flat on the panel. This will show you any very slight low areas; areas it’d be impossible to feel or tell by just using a sanding block. 
  • Pretend the entire vehicle is one panel. Don’t treat each panel individually. The entire idea is to make the vehicle as a whole straight. So see it as the shapes that are there with panels cut out of it. (Panel edges shouldn’t dive in). 
  • Feel the panel a lot as well. Feel up and down the panel. It is just as difficult to get the body work correct so it feels good up and down panels. It’s usually really good if that direction feels good.  This combined with checking the the aluminum spanned across panels will give you very good results. 
  • Although the aluminum flat stock is a great tool, don’t rely completely on it.  Still always pay attention to how things are blocking, and how they feel. Use the aluminum mostly to check your work, a lot. 
  • Tape body lines with two inch tape.  It is very difficult to see if body lines are straight while in body filler. Pull two inch tape over them and then sight down them.  This will allow you to sight down them and see if they are straight.  
  • Polyester primer barely fixes anything.  Yes, it works great, but in all reality, only very slight issues will block out in primer, so fix everything before you prime.  
  • Prime once.  If your body work is good enough, you should only need one prime to have the car ready for sealer.  Do NOT use polyester as a crutch!!    Some smaller break throughs to filler can be spotted in with primer. 
  • Where the filler is sanded through to metal should be subtle, gradual edges. You shouldn’t see an abrupt spot of metal.  You can see this in the pictures below. 
  • Finish your filler in 150 grit. This gives you a great head start with getting your primer dialed in nice.