Auto Body and Paint Buyers' Guide - Get It Straight And Shiny

A Guide To The Tools And Supplies Needed For Body And Paint

Calin Head
Mar 1, 2008
Photographers: The Manufacturers, Samuel J. Perea
If you are looking to shave a door handle or fix a scratch, one thing you will need to know is where to get the tools and supplies. This guide will give you an idea where to find everything you will need to get your bodyworking task done. There isn't a lot of paints in here because every town has a local paint store where you can get primers and paint. We tried to focus on the tools you will need, but we did throw in a few paints for good measure. One bit of info we can pass down is if you are unsure about something, talk to the guy at the paint store. Usually these guys are painters and can give you advice on what to use to get your desired results. We hope you find this guide helpful, and until next month: Happy sanding.
Photo 2/20   |   Model: Marcy
1. Spray Guns
The SATA gun our paint vixen, Marcy, is holding can handle every job thrown at you in the spray booth and are a must for those paintjobs that require 16 layers of clear. The SATAjet was built for custom paint and geared to shoot everything from candies to exotic colors. The company has a gun for every skill level and just about any budget. Check out the website for more details.
Photo 3/20   |   buyers Guide norton Abrasives
2. Tack Cloth
A good tack cloth is essential to keeping dust and dirt from getting under your paint. Tack cloth works by causing the dust, dirt, and any other contaminants to stick to the cloth as it is wiped over the surface of the material being cleaned. Tack cloth is sticky enough to pick up the dust, but not so sticky as to leave behind a residue on the surface being prepared for painting.
Norton Abrasives
Photo 4/20   |   buyers Guide the Eastwood Company
3. Budget Spray Guns
The two-gun sets from DeVilbiss will help you get the results you want at a price that rivals the no-name guns. The gravity-feed guns cut down on wasted paint, and they come with a one-year warranty. Having two guns will make life a whole lot easier when shooting primers and clears because of the different tip sizes needed. These are made to spray most any urethane, high-build primer, basecoat, lacquer, enamel, and water base. Polished aluminum gravity cups and lids offer durability and easy cleanup, while the regulator, tools, and accessories are included for a complete package.
The Eastwood Company
4. Welder And Helmet
The new Millermatic 140 with Auto-Set has got to be the simplest wire welder in the industry. With the new 140, all you have to do is to set the wire diameter and material thickness. The Auto-Set technology automatically sets wire-feed speed and voltage to achieve optimal welding results. This allows you to weld with confidence, knowing that the machine is properly set up. The Millermatic 140 with Auto-Set is a 115V all-in-one welder that can weld up to 3/16 inch in a single pass. To protect your eyes, Miller has come out with a passive helmet that only costs between $33 and $63 (pictured). This helmet will get you started, and when you're ready it can be upgraded to an auto-darkening by purchasing the lens.
Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
Photo 7/20   |   buyers Guide kustom Shop
5. Soft Blocks
These blocks were designed by the Kustom Shop to give you a sanding block that easily allows you to find and fix low and high spots on more curved panels. The multilayer construction has a semi-rigid acrylic backing plate to provide a perfectly flat and level sanding surface that maintains its flatness while following the curves of the vehicle. The base accepts standard-size adhesive long-board sheets or continuous-roll sandpaper and is available in four lengths: 9, 16, 24, and 32 inches.
Kustom Shop
Photo 8/20   |   buyers Guide kustom Shop
6. Satin-Finish Paints
Hot rod flatz is a preflattened, ready-to-spray, low-gloss color with the desired 30-degree satin primer appearance. There's no guessing with how much flattener to add: it's already added for you. Just mix four parts color to one part hardener to one part reducer, and you're ready to spray. The gallon kit produces 1-1/2 gallons of sprayable material. Hot rod flatz contains UV inhibitors to protect your finish from fading and chalking like traditional primers. now you don't have to be limited to primer for your flat look. There are 36 solid colors and 20 metallic and pearl colors to choose from.
Kustom Shop
Photo 9/20   |   buyers Guide craftsman
7. Air Grinder
One of these air grinders fitted with a roloc will become your best friend when you start performing sheetmetal welding. you'll need this little tool to knock down the welds in preparation for body filler. As an added bonus, this isn't just a body tool: you can use it to grind just about anything, provided you have an air compressor. A grinder like this can be found at places like Home Depot or Sears (Craftsman), and the grinding discs can be bought from 3M.
Photo 10/20   |   buyers Guide evercoat
8. Plastic Body Fillers
Body filler is used to fill minor imperfections because it is much easier to sand straight than the metal itself. All fillers need a hardener mixed with them to create the chemical reaction that makes them harden. There are all kinds of filler types out there - some even come infused with fiberglass or aluminum. each one is made to do something different, but when in doubt just get the standard stuff.
Photo 11/20   |   buyers Guide tp Tools And Equipment
9. Spreaders
These handleless spatulas come in different sizes and materials; we recommend using the metal type because it's easy to clean and produces a smooth finish. When possible, use a spreader that is at least twice the size of the dent you are trying to fix. if you are on a tight budget just pick up the plastic type, but the metal ones will, for the most part, produce better results.
TP Tools & Equipment

Photo 12/20   |   buyers Guide hutchins Mfg Co
Photo 13/20   |   buyers Guide hutchins Mfg Co
10. Rigid Blocks
These can be your best friend and your worst enemy. if properly used, your truck will be nice and straight, but your arms are going to suffer in the process. There are two types of rigid blocks you'll need to worry about: pneumatic and manual. They'll do the same job, but the pneumatic will do more work for you. even if you have an air compressor, we recommend the manual version at first because you're less likely to mess up.
Hutchins Mfg. Co.
(626 )792-8211
Photo 14/20   |   buyers Guide pcl
11. Primers
When it comes to primers, there are a few types to use depending on what you're trying to cover. in simple terms, a metal-etching primer is used to cover areas that are bare metal only, and the rest of the bodywork should be done over that. A high-fill poly primer is used to cover bodywork and old paint; this is the primer you will use to do the final block-sanding. A primer sealer is used to seal up all the primers and bodywork underneath and create a barrier so no moisture soaks into the absorbent poly primer or plastic body filler. if you plan to leave your ride in primer for a while, you definitely want to use a sealer as your last coat.
Photo 15/20   |   buyers Guide 3m
12. Sandpaper
The unsung hero for all bodywork has to be sandpaper. Without this stuff, who knows how we would get things straight again or smooth out orange peel? it comes in many grits and shapes. if you're doing a complete body job, you'll want to pick up some 80-, 120-, 220-grit in the dry version and some 400-, 600-, and 800-grit in the wet version. Dry paper is mainly used to sand metal, primers, and filler, while the wet is used to sand paint to be polished.
Photo 16/20   |   buyers Guide hutchins Mfg Co
13. Specialty Blocks
Not every surface of a truck is completely flat, and thanks to companies like Hutchins there are special-purpose blocks that fit in the contours for great results. Hutchins even makes a block specifically designed for the bed area so you can smooth out along the ribs.
Hutchins Mfg. Co.
Photo 17/20   |   buyers Guide hutchins Mfg Co
14. Dual-Action Sander
One of the staples of bodyworking, the DA is your greatest tool when it comes to scuffing the whole truck. it also does a great job of feathering out scratches and old layers of paint. By design, the sander won't create more ridges because it sands on two planes, hence the name "dual action."
Hutchins Mfg. Co.
Photo 18/20   |   buyers Guide snap On
15. Hammers And Dollies
Here are two basic hammers and dollies you'll need to manipulate metal. The faces of both hammers are flat. On the other side, however, one contains a pick designed to provide excellent balance for close-in work, and the other contains a chisel for work on hard-line areas like body lines or the front edge of a hood. The dollies are used to back up the hammer and come in different shapes as well.
Photo 19/20   |   buyers Guide 3m
16. Scotch Brite Pad
These hand pads are used to scuff surfaces and provide the proper texture for your primer or paint to bite. They are a lot more flexible than sandpaper, so you can get them into tighter spaces. not only good for bodywork, these make excellent scrubbers when cleaning greasy parts.
Photo 20/20   |   buyers Guide alsa Corp
17. Pinstripe Paint
The newest paint on the pinstripe scene is Striper from Alsa. This is a urethane-based striping paint, which means it dries in minutes and is completely able to be clearcoated without any worries of reaction. Designed with the pinstriping community in mind, Striper has been refined in the Alsa labs after rigorous testing in the market by actual pinstripers.
Alsa Corp.
( 323)581-5200



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