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FROM THE December 2008 ISSUE

Guide coat

RELATED TOPICS: BODYWORK
Q: What would you recommend as a guide coat when sanding and smoothing bodywork on a car model? I've heard that some builders use marking pens for this, but something tells me that's not a good idea.

- Richard McCallahan
Newark, Delaware


Ken: Something tells you right, Richard. The guide coat is dusted on a model during the "Body Sanding and Smoothing" stage, to reveal high or low spots that need attention.

You'd be amazed at the surface irregularities that are all but invisible when the model is in primer, but jump out after the shiny coat is applied - and then it's too late to correct the problem.

The guide coat typically contrasts with the undercoat you happen to be dealing with at the time, which is usually primer. Black is most often the color of choice, because it's so visible. The guide coat doesn't have to be heavy; just dust on a thin coat.

The idea is that when you're sanding, the guide coat disappears first from the high spots and stays in the low spots, pointing out areas that need to be brought up with putty. When the guide coat vanishes evenly from the model being sanded, it's generally good to go.

Marking pens are way too heavy and much too potent for this process, which requires a more-subtle touch and a type of paint that won't bleed through.

Go with your instincts on this one, Richard, and stay away from markers or paint sticks for this process.

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