Car Craft
Click here to find out more!

How To Align A Fender

Perfecting The Gaps Can Be A Tedious Process, But That’s What Separates A Stunning Restoration From A Mere Paint Job

Photography by Tony Nausieda

Any good bodyman will tell you that surface prep is at least as important as the paint itself. Cheap paint over crisp, straight body lines always looks better than nice paint over waves. Similarly, poor panel fit after the fact can ruin even the straightest panels and the nicest paint job.

Perfecting the gaps can be a tedious process, but that’s what separates a stunning restoration from a mere paint job. The good news? The basic procedure won’t cost you any more than a few bucks for shim packs. The not-so-good news? You may find that some panels require significant working time, aligning effort, or serious metalwork (i.e., cutting and welding) to look “right.” But chances are, if your car hasn’t been seriously tweaked in the past, this step-by-step approach to aligning fenders will yield panel gaps so straight they’ll look laser-cut.

We followed along as Hot Rod Haus owner Dave Cross worked his magic on a ’70 Chevelle front clip. Keep in mind that this car is still in bodywork stages, and ideally, that’s where yours should be when you’re aligning its body panels. Fitting the panels before painting allows you to play with shims and work the metal into shape if necessary without worrying about damaging the new paint.

When everything fits the way it should, you tear it apart, paint it, and put it back together. Keeping track of the shims used at each location will make post-paint assembly a snap. Remember, fitting panels after they’re painted will invariably lead to chipped edges, mediocre fit, and loss of sanity, so save yourself some grief and pre-assemble that body using Cross’s foolproof method.

SOURCES
Hot Rod Haus
Trevor
WI  53179
Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!
0 comments
Car Craft