Sanding blocks, fairing boards and fillers in action

By ‘Rotten’ Rodney Bauman

In any given facet of the automotive trade, it pays to pay attention to technology. In my own protective bubble as an automotive painter, technological advancements have made their way through the chemistry we use, as well as how we use it, all the way into the most inanimate of tools, including the sanding block.

Many of us in the body and paint profession still make our own blocks for specific purposes, but the store-bought variety is far more versatile than what we had when I was getting started back in the ’70s.


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At the forefront of my “blocks ‘n’ boards” collection is an excellent example of what I’m talking about. The AFS (Adjust-Flex Sanders) brand of longboards are now available through The Eastwood Co., but my own are actually closer to prototypes, purchased directly from the inventor: a Minnesota auto restorer by the name of John Wheeler.

Years ago, when I ordered mine over a rotary telephone, I was impressed that the inventor of these tunable, flexible longboards valued his test pilots’ opinions. Mr. Wheeler actually encouraged me to call again with a full report so he’d know how they performed for me in the shop.

As you can see, they’ve been used and like my other ol’ friends on the table, they owe me nothing.

If you, too, are a sentimental sucker for old tools, you might appreciate this chock block. There was once a time when it was actually used as a sanding block. In fact, the painter’s helper that pushed this one around in the ’70s depended on it, so he carved out his name for identification purposes.

See the nails in there? We used to fold and tear a sheet of sandpaper into four equal size strips, then load the block with the stack of four so that each layer could be quickly peeled and discarded as necessary on the fly.

With all we’ve learned, this obsolete tool has obvious limitations. I wouldn’t even consider this block for sanding today, but we’ve worked together in one way or another for close to 40 years now, so it’ll always have a place in my heart, as well a place under some old tire in the shop.




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So, here’s the various filler-shaping tools in action. Given the complexity of our project 1968 Dodge Charger’s hourglass profile, necessary filler work on the car’s sides could present a challenge. With body lines running at different angles, fading in and fading out, and the long peak that protrudes from the bottom of the three-dimensional door scallop all the way through the center of her calapidgeous quarter panels, this ol’ girl was intended by design to be anything but “straight.”


Just look at those body lines. If you’ve “been there, done that,” you likely have a horror story on tap. After a good going over with 80-grit on a dual-action sander, and further cleaning with grease and wax remover with sterile, disposable toweling, filler work can begin.

That said, let’s at least consider words like “fair” or “uniform” to better describe our goal as we go about getting there.

With our sheet metal repairs done, we’re about to take this ongoing project to the point where it’s ready for primer-surfacer. Before we proceed with the technical portion of the story, there is one more point we should expound: The filler work required for a job such as this is generally not easy.



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However, we’re optimistic that the following demonstration of tools and materials will make the filler work and fairing phases of your own project go a little easier. With the exception of one section of used radiator hose, all the products we’ll see used here are readily available through the usual sources such as The Eastwood Co. and/or Summit Racing Equipment.





Fair enough? I’m thinking so, but she’s not quite ready for prime time. There’s a whole bunch of dust to be blown out before entering the booth, then a bunch of masking before three coats of primer-surfacer are applied. Once primed, parts of the procedure will be repeated, but that’s another story.



Adjustable Flexible Sanders (AFS)
John Wheeler

The Eastwood Company

Summit Racing Equipment



If you liked this article on exterior repair and sanding, you might be interested in our other restoration products:

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