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Old 05-04-2005, 07:47 AM
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Door Re-Skinning

I just picked up the latest Super Chevy because it has an article on door skin replacement of a 1st gen chevy II which is what I have. The article left me with a few questions.

Don't you need to line up the door skin w/ the car before you start bending metal? If so, how do you line it up with all of the overlap on the skin?

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Old 05-04-2005, 07:59 AM
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That article only covered the very BASICS of installing a door skin correctly, it never touched on verifying alignment, panel adhesives, welding methods, weld through coatings, corrosion removal on door frame and application of primer before skin installation. There was so much missing I just laughed. If done correctly a replaced skin will outlast an OEM door by ten fold. Bob
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:23 AM
Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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There is some more info in the "Basics" below. The more I get exposed to aftermarket parts the more I think you should avoid the bonding and just "hem" the edge and tack weld it here and there with any aftermarket skin.

I do 99.99999% OEM parts on late model cars (done plenty of resto work, just not these days). Lately I have had the opportunity to mess with a few restos at work using aftermarket fenders and such. HOLY CRAP is some of this stuff junk. If you reskin a door using one of these poor quality parts, DO NOT bond it. You will need plenty of time to hang the door, massage the thing into fit, bend, twist, all sorts of stuff.

As the "Basics" states, one tip is NOT hem it tight. If you do this, though the skin won't "slide" around or anything like that it will move a little allowing you to twist the door and preform other panel fitting techniques.


“Basics of Basics” Door skins
By Brian Martin
First off, to remove the old skin, take a grinder and grind the edge door where the skin folds around onto the door shell. Grind until you see the three layers of metal. Don’t worry if you grind a little too much, if the shell gets ground a little it is no big deal. On the spot welds you can drill them or grind them, sometimes both. By grind I mean a die grinder with a cut off wheel, just set the spinning wheel on the weld moving it back and forth till you have cut though eliminating the weld.

To prepare the new skin, take a DA or similar tool and sand the OUTER edge of fold in the new skin a little. I am talking about the edge as it will be folded onto your door shell. If you LIGHTLY sand this edge the lip will fold MUCH easier when you install the skin.

If you don’t plan on bonding the skin on, I highly recommend it. It is a corrosion fighter like none other. With the door sitting on it's back (the interior side down) clean the edge where the panel will bond with an abrasive disc to bare metal. Don't use a grinder, it removes metal. Then you will put a small ribbon of panel adhesive, NOT door skin adhesive but the Panel adhesive, it has a higher strength and longer working time. Spread out the adhesive with a plastic spreader so ALL the bare metal is covered. Then apply another thin ribbon on the inside edge of shell where it folds down towards the interior.
I don't know what primer you will find on the new skin, if you can be assured it is good quality and has bonded well, leave it. If it is questionable, then sand it out and apply a good epoxy primer.
After you have a good primer (or left alone) you need to simply scuff it with a red scuff pad down in the area that will be bonding. And believe me DON'T over do it with the bonding! It WILL go around the other side of the fold without even trying and get on your dolly and hammer!
Lay the skin down on the door and position it. Clamp it down at the top where you won't mess up the outer skin. I used a rubber dolly, if you don't have one take a flat dolly and tape a rag or something on it to provide a little cush. A neat home made dolly for this can be fashioned from a 5" long piece of 2x4 hard wood and a 3M rubber squeege glued to it. Hold the dolly on the top surface right over where you are going to fold the lip, strike up on the fold with your hammer while pushing down on the dolly, strike it at an angle so the metal "wants" to hold and NOT lift the skin off the door.
THE TRICK!...... Don't fold it very much at a time, I mean VERY LITTLE, about an 1/8" MAX, maybe even 1/16". Go around the WHOLE door before folding more. Go around and around until you have it folded down almost flat, about 1/16" from touching.
Turn the door over, being particularly careful not to rest the door in a way that will bend your new skin! Now strike down with the hammer while you are still supporting with the dolly to close up the fold a bit more.
ANOTHER TIP!....DON'T smash it down!!!! Two reasons, one you will distort the outside and two you need to leave the bonding in there for it to work.
STILL ANOTHER TIP!.... Use a number of hammers that closely match the shape of the door, if you are in the rounded area at the top of the door, use a domed hammer.

After all folding is done, fine tune the edge so that there are no high or low spots. You can run a vexin file over these areas to spot highs and lows and cut a LITTLE if you need off of high spots. Then using a DA on grinder mode with a 120 disc you "block" the panel around the edge to perfection.

You can spray a weld thru primer on a couple of inches or so at the corners so you can then weld there and not burn the adhesive. But be ready to trial fit the door and twist it if need be for your weld it. You should always trial fit the door before the adhesive cures and “massage” the door to fit well then weld the corners on the back side so the door can’t twist while the adhesive cures.

If you have any fears of not being able to get the door skin on and folded in the working time of the adhesive, don’t use it! All you need is a little tack weld at each corner on the inside at the folded lip. Just go ahead and prime all the hidden areas and after the skin is on, put a seam sealer on the folded seam and spray a cavity wax or underseal around the seam from the inside.

Read the recommendations on the adhesive you are using, some want the metal bare while other want it to be primed, read the tech sheets.
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Old 05-04-2005, 10:23 AM
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Didnt read the article but can only imagine
Every door I do gets checked against the car before I hem of fold over the edge. The extra 5-10 mins it takes to verify that it fits right is WELL worth it.

I skinned a door on a late model caddy once, never checked the fit of the door to the car. Painted the door off the car, went to install door it did not fit, not even remotely!!!
When the door was hit it put a spring or bind in the shell, took skin off and the spring or enegry made that shell jump out of shape. Needless to say after a few hours and a new paintjob on the door it finally fit.

If I took the extra 10 mins to fit the door prior I would have seen the shell was out of place and could have very easily fixed it. Without the skin in place that shell is very easy to shape. Its like a shoe box without the lid on. Take the lid off and the box moves all over the place, put the lid on and the box is ridged and holds its shape.

As for checking the fit, its no problem. Before you remove the door mark its location on the hinges. I use the spots left behind from the paint on the bolts. The bolts will mark or scar the paint or be bare spots when you remove them. That will provide a guide to where you need to bolt the door back to.
The only spot you need to watch is on the door-fender gap. I normally place a strip or two of tape on the bottom edge of door to hold the skin firmly in place as I check the fit. Otherwise the skin will be loose and can hit the fender when you open the door. Or you can hem a small sopt on the lower corner to hold the skin.

Once the fit is checked I remove the door and hem or fold the edge. All my fitting, tweaking etc, is done prior to hemming the skin on.

Brian, have you tired that air hammer method yet? It works like a charm!

Last edited by sevt_chevelle; 05-04-2005 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 05-04-2005, 05:42 PM
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One more question for the experts on this subject.................Do you recommend painting the interior of the door, to prevent rusting, when you have it apart?
Ontario Rodders
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Old 05-04-2005, 05:52 PM
Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
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Sure you could paint it, it depends on the job you are after. I have never removed the "traditional" skin and sandblasted the shell but I have seen it done many times. Sand blasted, epoxy primer, paint it and install the skin. If you have rust on that is more than the "California surface rust" that will never really hurt anything, why not?

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Old 05-04-2005, 09:44 PM
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Have done it several times. I would blast the outside part of the shell, the interior part of the shell. Remove the skin then blast the rest of the shell. Prime, paint and reskin door.
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