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Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork

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1 Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:38 pm

I use Acrylic fingernail filler almost exclusively for my custom work, for a multitude of reasons. It's incredibly strong, versatile, and impervious to stripping methods we use, unlike putties and Bondo. It strengthens the joints made when mating dissimilar parts together, can be used to create small parts, and after 5 years on my Concept Camaro, shows no sign of shrinkage. The down side is the smell (You WILL need a mask of some kind, or lots of ventilation!!), and it's very hard to sand compared to putties and Bondo. But with some practice on a scrap body, once you get used to it's application and sanding, you'll be hooked!

Here's the basic supplies. You'll need Acrylic powder, Acrylic liquid, a real Camel hair brush, a bottle of Lacquer thinner (For cleaning the brush between applications), and some food coloring. Put a few drops of the food coloring into the Acrylic liquid to tint it, since this stuff is nearly transparent when it dries. The food coloring pictured works the best, but if you can't find this specific one, experiment for yourself. You'll also need some sanding sticks, 80 grit, 100/180 grit, and 240/400 grit work fine. All of these supplies are available at Sally Beauty Supply (Or pretty much any beauty supply store.) with the exception of the food coloring. A starter kit is available at Wal-Mart under the brand name "Kiss" if you want to try that before jumping in with both feet.

Here's an old customized body I couldn't get right using putties or Bondo, so let's apply some Acrylic Filler to this troublesome old custom. That big gap and the seams will be taken care of with ease.....

No matter what i did, this body just refused to be completed, nothing would work as a filler until I found this stuff, now we can make it look good!

Apply some of the Acrylic liquid to the area you want the filler on to "prime" the area.....

Dip the brush in the Acrylic liquid again, and then dip it lightly into the Acrylic powder. The size of the filler ball can be regulated by how long you leave it in the powder. The longer you leave it in the powder, the thicker (And larger) the ball of filler will be.....

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2 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:44 pm

This is a medium sized ball of filler, ready to be applied to the body.....

"Paint" the filler onto the area you want to fill in, getting it roughed in as best you can. You can always add more , but this stuff is a bear to sand, so you want as little excess as possible.

Clean your brush immediately after applying the filler. Do this between every application, because if you put a brush with filler back in the bottle of Acrylic liquid, you'll end up with a bottle full of very thick, useless Acrylic liquid. This will also save you a lot of money when it comes to brushes, because if the filler hardens in the brush, you'll never get it out.

Here's how the filler looks after it dries. Time for a second application, since I have some low spots.....

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3 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:50 pm

Our second application is done, now to do some filling of low spots.....

We're going to apply a light "skim" coat over this low spot.....

To smooth out the filler, get some Acrylic liquid on the brush and spread the filler out. You can do this up until the point where the filler hardens completely, which is about 3 minutes. It will soften the filler once it hardens, but you'll end up using a ton of the liquid, which is the expensive part of this combo!

This part is now finished, and ready for sanding!

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4 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:55 pm

Here we're filling in a seam in the license plate area....

Now we're ready for some sanding, starting with the 80 grit sanding stick. This is one of the big advantages of Acrylic filler, it can be sanded in 15 - 30 minutes, depending of the thickness of the filled areas....

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5 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:58 pm

Here's the finished results prior to primer. Once you've roughed it in with the 80 grit, move up to the 100/180, and then the 240.400. You can use 600 grit sandpaper to get it really smooth at this point if you'd like.....

First shot of primer. Notice the "ghost" area where the filler is. This can usually be taken care of with a second coat of primer. Once the second coat cures, if the "ghost" is still visible, get some 600 grit sandpaper, sand the area, then re-prime. This should eliminate any signs of your work. After years of trying to do this one with various putties, Bondo, and just about everything else I could find, this one may actually get completed someday,,,but I wouldn't count on it! This tutorial was done almost 10 years ago, and i still haven't painted this body!

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6 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Mon Feb 02, 2015 6:31 am


cool, never thought of using that stuff
might have to give it a try in the future

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7 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:05 am

Ok, so, since it is acrylic, do you clean the brush with water?

Great tutorial, can't wait to try this one out.

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8 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:03 pm

It's an Acrylic powder, but the liquid is definitely not water-soluble! Use lacquer thinner to clean the brush, and don't let it dry in the brush, or you'll have wasted a very pricey camel-hair brush! Shocked

I knew those smelly camels were good for something other than being nasty! lol!

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9 Re: Using Acrylic Filler for bodywork on Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:26 am

My set up, and the brush is still new, after 2-2.1/5 years of use, washing with warm water, but either way, great if you do allot of body mods, my only suggestion, be smart and use it in thin layers, let cure, then sand, and go from there

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