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FROM THE December 2010 ISSUE

Applying body putty

Q: I have a lot of trouble applying body putty to small areas – especially tight “inside corners” such as the valleys between the headlights and hoods on early customs.  

The putty usually ends up everywhere, and it really takes a long time to sand the excess from areas where I didn’t want putty in the first place! Any suggestions? I need help.

Terry Hagstrum
via E-mail

Ken: Doing custom bodywork should be a relaxing, creative, and fun experience, Terry. There’s no better way to spoil the moment than by having to perform a lot of unnecessary sanding when the putty dries.  

To avoid the problem, mask the areas around your work zone with low-tack painter’s tape. Place the tape in a way that will give you the maximum amount of peripheral protection, and leave enough open space around the work area to apply putty and to taper it off during the sanding process.

Even with that type of masking, be careful how much putty ends up on the tape, or you may pull off a layer of bodywork along with the tape when the putty dries.  

To pinpoint the application of putty, use small tools such as the tip of a hobby knife or a thin wooden coffee stirrer.  Use those same narrow tools to clean excess putty before it completely sets up. This should make final sanding much less of a chore.

Speaking of sanding tight areas (such as beside those headlight buckets you were talking about), make your own mini sanding tools by gluing sandpaper around a toothpick, a small paintbrush handle, or a piece of flat wood or plastic to get into those hard-to-reach places.  

Contact cement works great for gluing sandpaper to just about anything.


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