Body and exterior tips
 Paint and spray guns
- When opening a can of paint, punch a hole in the trough where the lid sits. That way excess paint will drain out of the trough and into the can, rather than splattering when placing the lid back on the can.
- Buy a set of inexpensive spatulas to use as scrapers for paint cans.
- To preserve hardener displace the air in the can with inert gas, such as that from a welding tank. Or, use a commercial inert gas finish preservative such as Bloxygen.
- Paint and related finishing products can be mixed in glass measuring cups, medicine cups, soup cans, or shot glasses. However, EZ Mix cups are generally preferred for ease of use. Containers with measurements on the side are generally most useful. Be aware that if you use a container with tapered sides you cannot use a paint mixing stick, as this changes the mixing ratio as the cup gets larger towards the top. Paint sticks are only to be used in containers with straight sides. Paper cups are cautioned against because some may have a wax coating. Similarly, plastic cups or containers (medicine cups, yogurt containers, cleaned bottle caps, etc.) are also cautioned against. There are many different kinds of plastic, some of which are inappropriate for storing certain types of finishing products.
- Use inexpensive plastic condiment bottles to dispense buffing compounds, polish, and glazes.
- For easier pouring, affix a 2-inch piece of masking tape to the edge of a large gallon of paint. Pour the paint over the piece of tape.
- Use a ladle for handling paint.
- When purchasing new paint or other finishing products, write the date on them with black magic marker.
- For stirring paint, use inexpensive "jumbo sticks", tongue depressors, Popsicle sticks, wood sticks, or butter knives.
- Paint stirring sticks with marks for different mix ratios can be useful for mixing paint.
- When mixing double portions of paint or primer mix one portion at a time. For example, 8:2:1 is easier to keep track of than 16:4:2. After mixing each individual portion, add the two portions together and mix well again. This also cuts down on wasted material when you make a mistake (too much hardener, wrong reducer, etc.).
- When opening a gallon of paint that isn't all going to be used immediately, mix it very well and pour it off into quart cans. While pouring, intermix the paint; pour a little bit into each can at a time.
- Leftover paint with hardener can be placed in the refrigerator. The cold temperature will slow down the hardener.
- It's very important to keep the nozzles of spray cans clean. Be sure to shake spray cans for the amount of time listed on the can, no less. After shaking, turn the can upside down and spray once to clear the nozzle. When done spraying, turn the can upside down, and clear the nozzle and pickup tube by spraying out all of the paint that is inside them. Then wipe the nozzle clean with a suitable solvent. This will return the nozzle to nearly new condition and will greatly extend its life. For more details, see Brian Martin's article posted on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board: Rattle can basics.
 Spray guns and spraying technique
- For consistent film build, don't start and stop at the same point every coat. For more information and photos, see Brian Martin's article posted on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board: Spray technique.
- Don't end a pass right at the end of a panel, where the masking begins. To prevent buildup, and to ensure an even coat, run the color over into the paper a good distance (up to a foot has been recommended).
- Use proper gun travel techniques. For more information, see Brian Martin's article posted on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board: Basics of gun travel.
- To paint something in a tight area without access, use a paper towel tube. Spray down the tube as it's held over the spot that needs to be painted.
- Using a file or a fine hack saw, scribe a line in the 12 o'clock position on your adjustment knobs when they are turned in all the way. This will make it easier to keep track of gun adjustments.
- Practice spray technique with water in the gun.
- For very small tasks, an airbrush may be helpful.
- For HVLP guns with low air requirements:
- Connect air fittings to a tee, and install a gauge.
- Connect the assembly to the gun, and then regulate the pressure at the compressor until it's at the desired level.
- Now, the assembly can be removed, and they'll be the proper pressure without all the extra hardware.
 Cleaning spray guns
- Never use anything metal for cleaning paint guns.
- Rubber-tipped dental tools for cleaning guns can be used for cleaning the holes in air caps.
- To clean metal parts of paint guns soak them in carburetor cleaner, and then rinse well. Don't soak plastic or painted parts.
- For many spray guns from Harbor Freight (a popular spray gun supplier), the finish will be removed when the gun is soaked in thinner or carburetor cleaner for cleaning purposes.
- Try using an ultrasonic cleaner (about $30, used for cleaning jewelry) for cleaning an HVLP gun. Lacquer thinner or glass cleaner have been recommended as potential solvents for use in an ultrasonic cleaner.
 Stripping paint
See Stripping paint.
 Taping and masking
See: Taping and masking.
 Body filler
- Use only lint-free towels for cleanup.
- Use clean cotton gloves for handling clean panels. Keep them stored clean, and wash when necessary.
- Don't leave a roll of tape on its side on any surface that's about to be painted. The adhesive on the tape will leave a residue.
- To keep your paint booth dust-free:
- Seal concrete floors with white epoxy. Concrete can break down and turn to dust.
- Put some linseed oil in a spray bottle, and mist any intake filters to catch dust.
- Clean any overhead sprinklers before and after each paint job. Or place sandwich bags over them.
- Try to eliminate vibrations from fans.
- To clean panels between compound, polish, glaze, etc., use a 50/50 mixture of water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Panels can also be cleaned with wax and grease remover.
- Don't use sprayable products in the immediate area prior to or following a paint job, for at least 24 hours. Products in the air could contaminate your paint job.
 Assembly and disassembly
- Use proper techniques for removing old or rusted bolts. See Removing rusted and broken fasteners.
- To protect painted bolts, place a sandwich bag over the bolt head before pushing on the socket.
- Make sure you save and mark all alignment shims from all the body panels when you take them apart. It will give you a great starting place when you go to reassemble.
- When aligning a body part that will require a lot of loosening and tightening, use mock-up bolts with plastic washers. When the panel fit is perfect, go back and change out the bolts one by one.
- When disassembling parts or vehicles, be organized. Plastic bags, tape, and a magic marker are essential.
- Write notes on a piece of tape, and stick the piece of tape to a part.
- Put small parts, nuts, bolts, clips, etc. in bags together for each assembly. Mark each bag.
- Tape nuts and bolts into their holes, or tape them to their part. Write notes on the tape.
- Socket sets with plastic inserts may be useful for protecting bolt heads. However, they are reported to strip out easily.
- Use a squirt can for dispensing small amounts of lacquer thinner.
- When hanging panels by yourself, use proper balancing and alignment techniques. For more information, see this discussion from the Hotrodders Bulletin Board: Hanging panels by yourself.
- To protect edges or corners during panel installation, use vacuum line or fuel line hose. Cut it down the middle, and tape it on.
- To hold nuts in a socket while assembling hard-to-reach body and exterior components, use masking tape stuffed in the socket -- sticky side out. Similarly, bearing grease can be placed on a washer to hold it to a socket for re-assembling parts.
- When disassembling small hard-to-reach parts, use grease in the socket to prevent losing fasteners.
- Use caution when installing hood springs. For more information, and a diagram, see Brian Martin's article posted on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board: Hood spring installation.
- For precise application of penetrating oil, put the oil in a hand spray bottle, and set the nozzle to a stream. This technique also prevents the release of fisheye causing aerosols into the air.
- For drilling out hard-to-reach spot welds, certain drill attachments (like paint stirring tools) may be able to be modified to work as extensions.
- To paint rims without scratching them:
- Mount the tire on the rim, but don't fill it up with air.
- Mask the tire with paper, stuffing it in between the tire and the rim.
- Paint the rim. You can paint around the back edge of the rim, along with the rest of it.
- Remove the masking and inflate the tire. It will look like the tire was off the rim when it was painted.
- To clean foam buffing pads while using them, use a cheap paint brush with the bristles cut off about halfway for stiffness.
- Allow plenty of air circulation around your air compressor. Put it outside if possible, or point a fan at it.
- Make paper templates for easy cutting and drilling. For more information and photos, see Brian Martin's article posted on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board: Templates for accurate cutting and drilling.
- Before installing weld-on parts (core supports, quarter panels, rear panels, etc.), scuff the inside areas. It's easier to do this before parts are installed.
- For doing small touch ups without ending up with a huge repair area from sanding, cut sanding discs down to size.
- To remove creases and dents from plastic bumpers, heat them with a heat gun, and work the area while it's hot. A wallpaper seam roller can be used to work dents out from the back side of the bumper, and a window screen bead installer can be used to push creases down from the front. Flex filler can be used for finishing.
- When chemical stripping parts with heavy buildup:
- Coat the panel heavily with stripper.
- Cover with a cheap plastic drop cloth, or plastic wrap.
- Let it stay covered at least an hour, but as long as overnight.
- The stripper penetrates deeper when it won't dry out, and the plastic wrap makes it easier to remove.
- If you want an entire part painted, finish it before installing it. Then, touch it up after it's been welded on. Although, this has been argued to be inefficient on a production basis, especially for parts that are not visible, and have been e-coated for adequate protection.
- Be creative when sourcing patch metal. Potential sources include:
- old refrigerators
- old air conditioning units
- old computer cases
- fenders, roofs, or other body parts from vehicles
- Use florescent "drop" lights, rather than incandescent. They create less heat, last longer, and are more resistant to shocks than incandescent bulbs.
- Save old magnets that are being thrown away (from old car speakers, or refrigerator/freezer sealing strips, computer hard drives, etc.). They have many uses:
- Place magnets over masking material to keep from blowing around.
- Use magnets to hold fire blankets in place while welding.
- Use a magnet in a plastic bag to pick up nails and screws. When done, turn the bag inside out; the metal parts are in the bag, and the magnet stays clean.
- Put large magnets along the outside of a tool box, and tools can be suspended from the inside of the box.
- Oil filter shells can be used for making recessed tail lights. They come in many different sizes, and the larger ones for commercial trucks may be especially useful.
- To make a custom body grommet, use a section of vacuum hose that's been split down the middle with a razor or similar tool. A photo of this can be seen here: Hotrodders Photo Gallery.
- To pull weld studs easier than the pullers can that come with the cheap weld stud guns, weld a pair of vice grips to a regular dent puller. They can be tack welded to a screw-on accessory and used as a new attachment.
 Questionable or disputed tips
These are tips that have been posted, either in this article or around the web, that may be disputed or otherwise questionable.
- Modify a regular caulk gun to make a dual-cartridge caulk gun. More information and photos on this can be found in this Hotrodders Bulletin Board discussion. This tip was cautioned against because of potential problems with the accuracy of the mix ratio, and because dual-cartridge guns are not particularly expensive.
- When applying body filler upside down, mix glue in with it to prevent it from falling. This tip was cautioned against due to concerns about potential chemical effects from mixing glue in with body filler. Instead, using a thicker brand of filler is recommended.
This wiki article was written to compile the various "Tips of the Day" posted in the Body-Exterior forum on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board.
The tradition of posting a "Tip of the Day" started with member jcclark, who posted the first Tip of the Day on August 26, 2005: Displace the air inside cans of hardener. jcclark went on to post the next two tips, after which other members continued the tradition. Member MARTINSR also made considerable contributions to the Tips of the Day.
While termed "Tip of the Day", the tips weren't actually posted on a daily basis. For the first 50 tips, a tip was posted, on average, once every 6 days. On December 24th, 2005, after the 35th tip had been posted, the administrator of the Hotrodders Bulletin Board compiled all of the Tips of the Day into one post: Body-exterior tips of the day.
On July 14, 2006, after the 53rd Tip of the Day was posted, this wiki article was made. Hopefully, all future tips will be added to the wiki article.
- Body-exterior tips of the day, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, December 24, 2005.
- Tip of the day #1, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, August 26, 2005.
- Tip of the day #2, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, August 31, 2005.
- Tip of the day #3, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 6, 2005.
- Tip of the day #5, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 9, 2005.
- Tip of the day #7, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 15, 2005.
- Tip of the day #8, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 15, 2005.
- Tip of the day #10, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 17, 2005.
- Tip of the day #11, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 19, 2005.
- Tip of the day #12, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 29, 2005.
- Tip of the day #13, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 29, 2005.
- Tip of the day #14, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, September 30, 2005.
- Tip of the day #15, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 1, 2005.
- Tip of the day #16, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 1, 2005.
- Tip of the day #17, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 2, 2005.
- Tip of the day #18, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 4, 2005.
- Tip of the day #19, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 8, 2005.
- Tip of the day #20, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 9, 2005.
- Tip of the day #22, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 19, 2005.
- Tip of the day #22-2, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 23, 2005.
- Tip of the day #23, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 25, 2005.
- Tip of the day #24, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 28, 2005.
- Tip of the day #25, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 29, 2005.
- Tip of the day #25-2, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, November 3, 2005.
- Tip of the day #26, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 29, 2005
- Tip of the day #26-2, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, October 29, 2005.
- Tip of the day #27, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, November 9, 2005.
- Tip of the day #30, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, November 24, 2005.
- Tip of the day #31, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, November 28, 2005.
- Tip of the day #32, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, December 8, 2005.
- Tip of the day #35, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, December 22, 2005.
- Tip of the day #36, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, December 26, 2005.
- Tip of the day #37, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, December 31, 2005.
- Tip of the day #38, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, January 1, 2006.
- Tip of the day #39, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, January 4, 2006.
- Tip of the day #40, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, January 4, 2006.
- Tip of the day #41, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, January 9, 2006.
- Tip of the day #42, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, February 3, 2006.
- Tip of the day #43, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, February 24, 2006.
- Tip of the day #43-2, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, February 28, 2006.
- Tip of the day #44, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, March 4, 2006.
- Tip of the day #46, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, March 19, 2006.
- Tip of the day #47, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, March 21, 2006.
- Tip of the day #47-2, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, April 15, 2006.
- Tip of the day #48, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, May 5, 2006.
- Tip of the day #49, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, May 5, 2006.
- Tip of the day #49-2, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, May 11, 2006.
- Tip of the day #50, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, May 17, 2006.
- Tip of the day #51, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, May 28, 2006.
- Tip of the day #52, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, June 6, 2006.
- Tip of the day #53, Hotrodders Bulletin Board, July 13, 2006.
- Body Working Tips, by Carl Brunson, RoddingRoundtable.com, retrieved July 14, 2006.
- Removing Tape after a Paint Job, by Halloweenking, Hotrodders Knowledge Base, retrieved July 16, 2006.
- Painting Dont's, by Halloweenking, Hotrodders Knowledge Base, retrieved July 16, 2006.
- Sandpaper, Wikipedia, retrieved July 14, 2006.