Custom Body Work Tips

Shaved Door handles Tips and Tricks. Lets face it a car with no door handles looks way cool, but are they practical? Who cares? Cool is very seldom practical, or for that matter cheap or easy. One important part of shaving a door handle is planning, because pulling into your local cruise in and not being able to get out of your car is NOT COOL. Worse yet! Not being able to get back into your car after the show is over because your 2000 watt stereo along with your PS2, drained both your batteries while Playing Grand Theft Auto for the teeny bopper judges on you trunk mounted HD flat screen. So Plan way ahead, first get every possible problem worked out before you actually weld up the door handles. Make sure you have a way to get to the battery if it goes dead. Remember If you have a dead battery you can’t open the door with the electric poppers and pull the hood release. Make sure you put and external button in case your remote batteries go dead, and if at all possible have some kind of manual release hidden on the outside of the car. For safety always leave the inside door handles manual, you can camouflage them or redesign them but it is not safe to rely on electronics in a panic situation like fire or a collision.
There are lots of keyless entry door popper kits on the market so as usual do some research before you order. I would recommend getting at least 45lbs solenoids. Also try and mount your solenoids so the least amount of water gets to them during washing, or in the case of a daily driver , rain water. Before hooking the latch to the solenoid you should remove the handle and the window belt molding this way if you have a problem with a non operational solenoid it will be easier to access the latch to open the door from the outside of the vehicle. Follow instructions on the kit for installing the wiring since there are to many kits for me to describe all of them in detail. After you install the solenoids, the wiring, and you make sure every thing is in working order you can begin to weld up your door handles. If you are not proficient in welding I would recommend taking this part to a quality custom shop. Welding newer sheet metal is more difficult then the heavier steel of the vintage cars.

First cut a piece of construction paper to fit the shape of the hole to be filled.

Next transfer the pattern to a piece of sheet metal the same gage as the door skin.

Next grind the paint away from the edge where the weld is going to be making sure not to leave any paint or galvanizing on the surface.

Now take the new pattern of sheet metal and set it against the hole to be filled.

If the panel is rounded you should bend the metal to the same curvature as the door skin. Grind and shape the patch panel until it sits as flush in the hole as possible without any spots rising above the shape of the original door skin

Once you have the patch fitting as best as possible then you can get ready to weld.
You can use weld thru primer some people recommend it, I do not use it as I believe it effects the quality of the weld to much and in all the years welding without it I have never had a job come back because of rust.

Weld the patch panel using spot welding techniques making sure to never get any heat build up. Tack one side then the other side, wait until the metal cools then repeat. You may end up with 100 or more small tack welds before the panel is welded completely around the edge.

After welding is completed you can grind down the welds flush to the door skin. Make very sure not to heat up the metal. I have warped more panels with a grinder then a welder. Do not over grind as you will compromise and fatigue the patch.

Once the patch is complete then feather back the paint with no less then 80 grit sand paper well beyond the area you will need to fill. Then with a dual action sander feather the paint edge to blend the paint as well as possible into the metal.

There you have it. I will describe the filler process in a future post. Above all don’t be the one that just fills the hole with putty and chicken wire. It wont last and you will be very disappointed in the out come.

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