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Applying automotive putty

Q: "Tips and Tech" is my favorite part of the magazine. In fact, it has inspired me to start doing custom bodywork using two-part polyester automotive putty.

This might seem like a silly question, but what should I use to apply the putty to the car?

- Robin Oglvie
Via E-mail

Ken: We're glad T&T is your favorite part of the magazine, Robin. Without the support of readers like you, there would be no Tips & Tech.

The question is not silly at all. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in a technique, we forget about the basics.

If you talk to 20 modelers, you'll get 30 answers regarding the best way to apply putty.

A lot depends on where the putty is going. As a rule of thumb, use the largest possible tool for the area you're working on. But basically, Robin, you can use just about anything that is somewhat flexible and stiff to apply putty.

If you're looking to fill or smooth a large, broad area such as the side of a car, you can use a piece of card stock, an old credit card, or something of similar strength and flexibility.

In smaller areas - around headlights and grilles, taillights, frenched license plate housings, etc. - you can get away with a smaller tool, such as a used No. 11 blade, coffee stirring stick, small hobby spatula, or even your fingers (if you are wearing rubber or vinyl gloves; dried putty is difficult to get off you fingers).

Our friend and fellow columnist Evan "Truck Stop" Hermel uses those stiff little pieces of plastic found in dress shirt lapels to keep them stiff.

Keep in mind that after it cures, two-part auto putty is very hard. In order to keep final sanding to a minimum, it's a good idea to shave off some of the excess putty after it has set up but while it's still tacky and not-yet-rock-hard. You may save yourself some precious hobby time in the long run.

Thanks for a very good question, Robin, and good luck with your first major customizing effort.


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