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Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding


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jargonscott 
Member - Posts: 8
Member spacespace
Joined: March 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posted: March 10, 2006 at 8:37 AM / IP Logged  

Hiya :) I'm a noob to the forum, as well as fiberglassing - be gentle ;)

Well, for my first ever custom project, I took on a pretty hefty little job. Have an 89 Pontiac Grand Am, and the driver's side door panel was falling apart anyway so after a friend introduced me to the concept of fiberglassing and customizing; I figured I couldn't exactly hurt anything and jumped off the deep end. I started by taking the old door panel, taking a sheet of MDF and tracing around it to get a basic idea of the size. I took and cut around it, put it on the door, got everything sized right - built up my arm rest - a 6x9 spacer and did my cutting for the handles; etc. Then I took some fleece, stretched it, resined, fiberglassed; etc. and now I'm trying to get a baby smooth finish with my body filler. Since I can't really come up with any better ideas, I plan to probably paint the whole thing so I'm looking to get it as smooth as humanly possible.

Since it's my first time out, I've probably made every mistake in the book; but hey, that's how you learn. Any basic knowlege anyone feel like passing on as far as bondo/body filler work goes? I've been told to start with small thin layers and build up (which is what I have been doing), but with the belt sander I have - it seems like it will be easier to go with a thick coat and just sand down; but who knows. So far I still shave down to the glass or come up with very deep pockets. I'm guessing you can chalk it up to inexperience :) Any hints, or links to a nice tutorial to help through the rough spots out there though? Thanks, I figure I'll post pictures as it starts to look a little better ;)

The night's as hot as hell. It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town - I'm staring at a goddess...
Goldie. She says her name is Goldie.
Velocity Motors 
Moderator - Posts: 12,488
Moderator spaceThis member has made a donation to the12volt.com. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Electrical Theory. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Fabrication. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Mobile Audio and Video. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Mobile Security and Convenience. Click here for more info.spacespace
Joined: March 08, 2002
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Posted: March 10, 2006 at 9:24 AM / IP Logged  
What you want to do is get some short strand fiberglass for strength and for ease of building up the door panel. You can get this at any autobody / paint shop or even at some hardware stores that stock automotive paint supplies. Now this short strand fiberglass is basically like Bondo but thicker and spreads nicer because of it. Place the same amounts of hardener as you would with Bondo and apply with the same tools.
After you apply it DO NOT LEAVE ! Make sure you have a sanding block ( preferrably a sponge block ) with a 25 - 50 grit sand paper. When the SSF ( short strand fiberglass ) starts to heat up from the hardener it will have a semi-hard texture to it where you can run your finger across it and it will not leave a trench behind BUT will flake off in a small chunk. This is the stage you want to start running the block with the 50 grit sand paper across the panel.
The short strand fiberglass will start sanding off in small rolls ( like your rolling up Play-Do on your fingers ). Keep doing this until you reach the desired flat spot in the door you want and continue to the next part of the door. Make sure that you do areas small enough that you can sand the short strand fiberglass like I explained above, if you take too long, you will know because it will take you 4X longer to sand hardened short strand fiberglass than it does regular Bondo.
After you have completed the door in short strand fiberglass and are happy with the smoothness of the panel, NOW you can use thin amounts of bondo to fill in any of the pin holes , dips & whatnot that the short strand fiberglass left behind. Use a 80-120 grit sand paper for the Bondo and do the same thing with the Bondo as you did with the short strand fiberglass and only allow it to dry to a semi tacky finish and then go to town with the 80-120 grit sandpaper.
Hope this helps and I gaurantee you that if you follow through with this technique it will shave off days of sanding and also block sanding ANY fiberglass project will ensure you of straight & flat lines bar none !
Jeff
Velocity Custom Home Theater
Mobile Audio/Video Specialist
Morden, Manitoba CANADA
jargonscott 
Member - Posts: 8
Member spacespace
Joined: March 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posted: March 10, 2006 at 11:15 AM / IP Logged  

Velocity Motors wrote:
What you want to do is get some short strand fiberglass for strength and for ease of building up the door panel. You can get this at any autobody / paint shop or even at some hardware stores that stock automotive paint supplies. Now this short strand fiberglass is basically like Bondo but thicker and spreads nicer because of it. Place the same amounts of hardener as you would with Bondo and apply with the same tools.
After you apply it DO NOT LEAVE ! Make sure you have a sanding block ( preferrably a sponge block ) with a 25 - 50 grit sand paper. When the SSF ( short strand fiberglass ) starts to heat up from the hardener it will have a semi-hard texture to it where you can run your finger across it and it will not leave a trench behind BUT will flake off in a small chunk. This is the stage you want to start running the block with the 50 grit sand paper across the panel.
The short strand fiberglass will start sanding off in small rolls ( like your rolling up Play-Do on your fingers ). Keep doing this until you reach the desired flat spot in the door you want and continue to the next part of the door. Make sure that you do areas small enough that you can sand the short strand fiberglass like I explained above, if you take too long, you will know because it will take you 4X longer to sand hardened short strand fiberglass than it does regular Bondo.
After you have completed the door in short strand fiberglass and are happy with the smoothness of the panel, NOW you can use thin amounts of bondo to fill in any of the pin holes , dips & whatnot that the short strand fiberglass left behind. Use a 80-120 grit sand paper for the Bondo and do the same thing with the Bondo as you did with the short strand fiberglass and only allow it to dry to a semi tacky finish and then go to town with the 80-120 grit sandpaper.
Hope this helps and I gaurantee you that if you follow through with this technique it will shave off days of sanding and also block sanding ANY fiberglass project will ensure you of straight & flat lines bar none !
Thanks man. Wish I'd have been posting on here before I started the fiberglassing! Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image. So, is hand sanding the only option during this period? Is a belt sander too much? Sorry, love that belt sander Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image.

The next door should go a lot quicker. I'll be trying that technique as well. I'm going to try going over the door in thick bondo tonight, and kind of sculpting  it out and then hand sanding. Very anxious to just get it over with Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image.

The night's as hot as hell. It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town - I'm staring at a goddess...
Goldie. She says her name is Goldie.
jt73 
Copper - Posts: 81
Copper spacespace
Joined: December 30, 2004
Posted: March 10, 2006 at 6:17 PM / IP Logged  
hand sanding s*cks, but much better alternative than the belt sander...or get you a little palm sander from wal-mart
jargonscott 
Member - Posts: 8
Member spacespace
Joined: March 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posted: March 10, 2006 at 6:28 PM / IP Logged  
jt73 wrote:
hand sanding s*cks, but much better alternative than the belt sander...or get you a little palm sander from wal-mart
Probably what I'll do this next go around. Just spent so much on tools - but I'm not complaining, too much fun Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image.
The night's as hot as hell. It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town - I'm staring at a goddess...
Goldie. She says her name is Goldie.
Velocity Motors 
Moderator - Posts: 12,488
Moderator spaceThis member has made a donation to the12volt.com. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Electrical Theory. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Fabrication. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Mobile Audio and Video. Click here for more info.spaceThis member has been recognized as an authority in Mobile Security and Convenience. Click here for more info.spacespace
Joined: March 08, 2002
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Posted: March 10, 2006 at 11:10 PM / IP Logged  
I have thousands of dollars worth of pnuematic sanding tools and equipment and now I basically use my $ 10.00 sponge block sander to do all my work. Sounds ridiculous but it actually saves me time in the end.
Jeff
Velocity Custom Home Theater
Mobile Audio/Video Specialist
Morden, Manitoba CANADA
crazyoldcougar 
Copper - Posts: 185
Copper spacespace
Joined: March 03, 2006
Location: Canada
Posted: March 11, 2006 at 12:02 PM / IP Logged  

i just pick up a sanding disk for your drill...like a 5" round rubber disk with mandrel...slap her in your drill and go to town...sure beats hand sanding and there is more control over it then a belt sander...plus being flexible rubber works well on curved sections...you will be forced to hand sand sooner or later theough...

and yeah if you dont catch the kitty hair in the clay phase it is a royal biotch to sand...

Fiberglass Guru.
jargonscott 
Member - Posts: 8
Member spacespace
Joined: March 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posted: March 15, 2006 at 10:16 PM / IP Logged  

Basically, how it is looking as of the moment:

Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image.

Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image.

Not the prettiest thing in the world, for sure Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image. Still, it's my first project, so I guess everybody starts somewhere, hehe. Still working on getting everything sanded down, trying to come up with ideas for what I truly want it to look like. Right now I'm thinking once it's sanded down I might cover it in flex-stone (I think that's a brand, no experience with it, but I saw a panel that looked really interesting using it the other day) and try to come up with some kind of fabric to cover at least that top portion above the arm-rest. Just an idea, since I work in embroidery it would be really neat if I could encorporate my own design on something like that.

The next panel, if by god I can finish this one, should be a breeze in comparison Fiberglass Door Panel Project, Sanding -- posted image.

The night's as hot as hell. It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town - I'm staring at a goddess...
Goldie. She says her name is Goldie.
Sessland 
Copper - Posts: 58
Copper spacespace
Joined: July 02, 2005
Location: Mexico
Posted: March 17, 2006 at 12:33 AM / IP Logged  
That flex stone stuff (If I'm thinking of the same product) doesn't look so good after a while because it rubs off.
A few of my friends have done it over the years and have regretted it shortly there after.
It simply does not last.
jargonscott 
Member - Posts: 8
Member spacespace
Joined: March 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posted: March 17, 2006 at 10:19 AM / IP Logged  
Sessland wrote:
That flex stone stuff (If I'm thinking of the same product) doesn't look so good after a while because it rubs off.
A few of my friends have done it over the years and have regretted it shortly there after.
It simply does not last.
Well, I was told that would happen if it wasn't clear coated. I don't have any experience with it myself though, thinking about experimenting with it some. Bought a can of fleck stone last night, it's a real light shell color but I plan on doing my door in a navy blue with maybe a little baby blue. Am wondering if it would be possible to paint over a fleck stone finish now, am going to hold out a few days. Maybe give that a little try.
The night's as hot as hell. It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town - I'm staring at a goddess...
Goldie. She says her name is Goldie.
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