Kevin Tetz's Paintucation
Edited by Patricia Kalin
I've wanted to do paint and body work since I first started working on cars, but I've been avoiding it for just about as long. I've heard and read about other people's complaints and fears. Some say "it's nothing like working on a car" or "it's too much like art." I can't claim those are my reasons though, as I work as a commercial artist and I've worked on cars for longer.
My reason for not doing it stemmed from the fact that I lacked the education to do it properly. I knew from past experience (dabbling with paint on various car parts as well as reading about and seeing some of the steps that went into it) that it was a complex process that I didn't understand. I was afraid I was going to inevitably screw up after putting a lot of hard work into it.
I came across Kevin Tetz's Paintucation series quite deliberately by accident, and without the intention of doing any paint or body straightening. I did, however, need to do quite a bit of rust repair on my '87 Mustang.
I was looking for something to teach me rust removal methods at the time and it just so happened that I remembered the Eastwood Company had DVDs on paint and body repair. Sure enough, they had the Paintucation series which has a DVD that specifically covers rust repair.
I could have picked up just Metal Prep & Rust Repair!, but I was very intrigued by the idea of learning how to do paint and body work. So, I ordered the entire series. That said, I was naturally skeptical of the whole idea, considering my long time trepidation around the subject.
Paintucation's rust repair section did exactly what I was hoping it would do, but that wasn't what really impressed me. When I finished watching the series, I found that I had a firm grasp of the whole paint and body process. For the first time, I really wanted to get started!
The series has a chronology, but each DVD can be watched individually without requiring the others for reference.
The series listed in order would be:
- Paint Your Own Car!
- Color Sanding & Buffing!
- Metal Prep & Rust Repair!
- Body Shop Basics!
- Xtreme Detailing!
I chose to watch them in a different order, which I thought might allow them to give me a better understanding of the process (that's also the order I've chosen to review them in). For me, it ended up working out for the better. As I mentioned above, they can be watched individually or together in any order as the information in each video is self encapsulated.
Body Shop Basics!
I decided to start with Body Shop Basics! because the synopsis of the video stated it was "a great introduction to the world of paint and body work."
Although I've read about the process of paint and body repair, I had zero practical knowledge of it. What little I'd seen definitely didn't provide a clear understanding of how each step worked in the process or the results I was looking for.
Body Shop Basics! did exactly that.
This video doesn't explain all the techniques and procedures that could be involved in painting or repairing the body of a car. Instead, it focuses on one procedure from beginning to end, illustrating the techniques used (and the reasons for those techniques) as well as the results you are looking for from them. Kevin does this by using a number of short and concise tutorials that focus specifically on the details of each technique. From watching the video, I came away with the impression that I would be able to apply these techniques to my own projects, and with enough effort and correct application, I would be able to produce results I would be happy with.
The first "section" (which is the same for all the videos), is a primer on what the video is going to cover.
The second section in Body Shop Basics! covers and emphasizes the importance of safety in the shop, and touches on a few of the basic pieces of health and safety equipment to use when painting.
One of the best parts about this series is that not only does it show you how to do paint and body repair, each video contains and stresses the important safety precautions that accompany the video's subject matter. Painting is a very dangerous practice. The chemicals involved can do permanent damage to you (or even be fatal) if you don't take the precautions necessary every step of the way. Kevin knows that, and informs you so that you can enjoy painting, body work, and your results for years to come.
The third section goes over the basic tools you'll need to complete your own tool set (so that you can execute quality work). It also covers some guidelines to consider when making your tool purchases.
The next section briefly runs through signs of damage to look for before starting your project.
Then the video gets into the nitty gritty of its subject matter. Kevin uses a small dent in the side of an Oldsmobile to show proper technique in dent repair. Starting with basic hammer work, followed by dent pulling and filler application, he illustrates how to straighten a dent before getting to final surface prep for primer application. All the while, he's showing practical tips, techniques, approaches to problem solving, and points out important details that are essential to producing good results. He finishes up this section with priming, blocking, and final surface prep for the paint application.
Before moving on to applying paint, Kevin goes over the paint gun. He covers operation, uses, and special techniques. He also provides a money saving tip to test for proper gun pressure, which is essential for good paint application.
With gun basics covered, the video moves on to in-booth pre-paint procedures, paint application, and blending a metallic base coat/clear top coat panel repair.
Body Shop Basics! final section goes over some paint finishing techniques that include nib repair, compounding and glazing, and emblem installation.
Metal Prep & Rust Repair!
The synopsis says Metal Prep & Rust Repair! covers chemical and mechanical paint stripping, light body and dent repair, metal finishing, rust patching, surface rust removal, and preparation. It also says that it teaches priming techniques, and rust prevention products and procedures.
Based on the synopsis, I thought that detailed foundation work would be the perfect thing to follow the introduction to basic body skills provided in Body Shop Basics!.
The first section briefly goes over what's going to be covered in the video, as well as the importance of proper metal preparation.
The second section covers some of the safety equipment, tools, and supplies that will be used throughout the video.
The third section briefly touches on the importance of safety and the use of proper safety equipment.
In the fourth section, Kevin shows you how to inspect panels and what to look for when doing so. He also illustrates practical reasons why it's easy to misjudge panels and how to avoid simple pitfalls so that it's possible to make an accurate assessment of your project before you tackle it.
After the panel inspection, he goes into stripping the two panels he just inspected using two methods: chemical and mechanical.
In the chemical stripping section, he uses a few tricks to make chemical stripping more effective such as proper application method, two different removal methods, his own pre-clean-up technique, and others.
After he gets the panel stripped and cleaned up, he shows you some good reasons to get panels down to bare metal. There are a few surprises left by some previous body repairs that were otherwise undetectable.
Kevin continues to give great tips for stripping in the mechanical stripping section. He discusses abrasives, evidence of prior body work, metal handling, and more. He also gives you a number of alternative methods, while showing you how to strip old paint with his preferred approach.
Although the focus in the last two sections was stripping, I felt his explanation of what not to do when performing panel repairs (using the poor repair work to illustrate his points) was of incredible value. Also, as he strips each panel, he goes into some fascinating body repair forensics such as reading paint, filler, and body repair "history."
After stripping the panels, Kevin shows you how to reshape the dents left behind by the previous repair person. In this section, he gives some important tips as well as shows some ways to reshape metal and fix previously botched repair attempts.
Metal patching is the subject of the following section and he goes through the process of patching one of the botched repair jobs on one of the previously stripped panels. He makes a custom repair panel and takes you through the process of fitting and welding it in place. This is one area that I personally disagree with, but I'm not a professional body man by any stretch. I feel that it's important to point out that there is only one detail that I don't like and that it's strictly a matter of preference. He uses a lap weld rather than a butt weld, followed by the use of filler to level the repair. I'm personally a fan of the butt weld, but I still found that Kevin provides a host of useful techniques and finishes the repair off beautifully.
The next section covers filler application technique, as well as filler types, and custom mixing. Once he applies it, he shows you a number of methods to cut down on sanding time (as well as sand paper clogging), and what to look for in properly leveled filler.
Finally, the video gets into rust repair and starts with rust prevention. This section is rather short, but gives you some good pointers about panel prep and how to keep a panel from rusting in the future.
The following section on priming is almost as short as the section on rust prevention, but starts up where rust prevention leaves off. In the section on rust prevention, Kevin focused on the back of a panel. In priming, he focuses on the top side (applying both a zinc oxide self etching primer as well as several coats of primer surfacer).
Moving along, he deals with surface rust. This section gave me the idea to use a new product on my '87 Mustang's rust, 3M's Bristle Disks. Kevin demonstrates how quickly the Bristle Disks cut through scaly rust, and then follows through with panel prep for primer application.
The video finishes off with a number of general body repair tips, as well as one for rust prevention.
Since I made a point of singling out this video as having special interest for me — because of its rust repair content — I wanted to say that even though I said that the sections on surface rust and rust prevention were short they didn't disappoint me at all. I actually learned quite a bit more from them than their lengths might indicate. Seeing the processes in action — as well as learning the techniques and seeing them applied — taught me much more than reading about them alone, or even reading about them followed up by self-guided trial and error. All in all, I was very pleased with this video and it taught me quite a bit about a number of different methods for rust repair.
Paint Your Own Car!
Paint Your Own Car! is the first video Kevin made, but after considering the whole series, I thought it best fit in the number three slot. Again I used its synopsis to make my decision. The synopsis states that this video "...[I]s a step-by-step instructional video tape that takes you through every stage of a base coat/clear coat overall paint job, with detailed procedures and trade secrets revealed."
It did a great job of building on the metal prep techniques I learned in Metal Prep & Rust Repair! as well as expanding my understanding of the basic paint techniques learned in Body Shop Basics!.
As I mentioned in the review of Body Shop Basics!, the video starts with an introduction that goes over what's going to be covered during its 70 minute run time.
The section following the introduction stresses the importance and reasons for using safety equipment. It also introduces some of the safety equipment that should be on hand before doing any paint or body repair procedure.
The next section is one of the most important on any of the videos because Kevin explains some important factors for you to consider when planning a paint job. Many car repairs get started without any more planning than "I want/need to do that" and "I have a repair manual and some tools." While that will work with many non-time sensitive procedures like those found in mechanical repair, where paint and body repair is concerned, time is of the essence. It's vitally important to have the entire procedure planned out so that there isn't a lot of money lost due to problems like corroding panels and "spoiled" paint products.
After going over the importance of planning, Kevin briefly touches on paint gun basics, which includes choosing a paint gun and using paint gun controls.
Before he gets started with actual paint prep, he gives a practical demonstration of planning by making sure he has all the supplies he's going to need for the shoot. He also offers some helpful alternatives to some of the professional supplies, as well as tips for using them.
In the next section on paint prep, Kevin goes through each process using techniques, supplies, and tools that are readily available to the average enthusiast — as well as easy to do.
First up, he shows you how to properly clean a car and stresses the importance of doing that before doing anything else.
Next he shows you how to get an old finish ready for paint and stresses the importance of fixing problems with it before attempting to paint over it.
As part of prepping the current paint, he shows you how to smooth, prime, and block blemishes with primer surfacer so that they don't show through the new finish. He also shows you how to mix paint and primer.
There are very few problems I've found with this video series but this section on priming has two of the four. To be fair, Kevin states and corrects most of the issues I've found here, in Body Shop Basics!, but I still feel it's important to point these out both for safety's sake and to provide a fair review.
He does a great job of explaining how to mix and apply primer and paint in this section, but he does so in the wrong areas and without using appropriate respiratory protection. While I'm no professional, I am explicitly aware of the extreme dangers hardened paints and primers pose. When mixing paints and primers with hardeners, a respirator should be worn (and to be truly safe, whenever you will be exposed to any paint vapor) and it should be done in a paint mixing booth so as to keep from exposing others. When applying hardened paints and primers, a fresh air mask should be worn, instead of a respirator, because any exposure to hardener particulates can be harmful (or fatal, depending on the type of hardener used). The application should be done in a paint booth (which, again, filters these vapors and particles out of the atmosphere so that others are not exposed to them).
He completes the paint prepping section with masking, featuring a host of techniques and tips to make sure the paint job comes off without a hitch, and brings it all to a close with paint booth prep.
After paint prep, Kevin segues into a section on paint gun technique and paint application. He shows you what you need to know about setting up your paint equipment as well as what to look for when laying down paint.
Finally he gets to paint application. First he applies primer sealer and gives some tricks to make the sealer work better for the top coat while explaining the reasons for doing it.
After applying primer sealer, he lays down the color base coat, pointing out important tips to consider before, during, and after the paint application so that it turns out clean and without many defects. Some of those tips include very practical advice about how to fix some mistakes in the base after it's been laid.
In the last part of the paint application section, he lays down the clear stage of a two-stage paint. Again, he makes numerous important observations such as what to look for when laying down clear and the importance of safety with hardened paints. Although, again, he does so without wearing the appropriate respiratory protection. While laying down the catalyzed urethane top coat (which is hardened with a deadly isocyanate-based hardener), he's wearing a respirator but should be wearing a fresh air mask (which he states in Body Shop Basics!) as any exposure to isocyanates in this paint's hardener can cause death — or at the very least, permanent, debilitating health problems).
In the final section of the video, Kevin fixes minor imperfections in the finish and explains how to buff to improve the finish quality of a clear coat.
Color Sanding & Buffing!
I chose Color Sanding & Buffing! to follow Paint Your Own Car! because its synopsis states "that it takes you through every type of buffing and paint repair." Since I already had a general idea of what paint finishing entailed before I watched this series, it seemed like the perfect sequence to watch it in.
My conviction only increased after I watched Paint Your Own Car! as I found myself left with more questions about buffing and what to do if there were problems in the finish after it was applied, than were answered.
Again, the first section of this video is the introduction, which Kevin uses to explain what will be covered throughout the video as well as illustrate the tools and supplies he'll be using.
In the next section, he jumps right into cleaning up fresh paint, showing you how to improve a rough paint job, as well as produce a show quality finish. However, before getting started, he demonstrates prep work for finish repair and final finishing. During this step, he gives you advice on how to avoid damaging the thin paint on an edge of a panel — as well as how and why that happens so easily. He then gives some helpful warnings and tips to figure out what sort of paint surface is being repaired and final finished, so that the finish can be improved rather than damaged.
He moves on to removing rough spots caused by contaminants in a clear coat and reveals some custom tricks to do it. While working through this process, he points out things both good and bad to look for while removing imperfections and bringing the panel to a nice finish.
Following the segment on finish repair, Kevin reveals techniques used to create a show quality finish. First he defines what a show quality finish is, then the extra steps needed to prepare a finish for show buffing during the painting process, then he shows you how to achieve that kind of finish. Along the way, he continues to give you tips and tricks that allow him to produce the kinds of results he's looking for.
The next section touches on paint run repair using two different methods. One uses a custom prepared razor blade and the other uses sand paper (each has different applications). He also illustrates the anatomy of a run and explains why it's important to approach repairing them correctly.
He then goes into a section on oxidation repair for non-clear coated paints. He explains the differences in approach between buffing a clear and a non-clear, and how to bring the shine back to an oxidized finish. He also gives an example of when it's time to start over with fresh paint.
The video finishes up with a section illustrating what not to do when color sanding and buffing.
By the time Color Sanding & Buffing! was finished, I found that many of the questions I had been left with in Paint Your Own Car! were answered. I also found that I was looking forward to the final video in the series, hopeful that it would start where this one left off.
It seemed pretty simple to me that Xtreme Detailing! would go last, as it would outline how to maintain a finish once it was applied. The synopsis states that this video "shows you how to repair and enhance your vehicle's appearance! Why replace when you can easily repair?" Of course, I also thought it might have fit at the beginning if I was interested in deciding whether I should try to repair the paint I had or go the next step and refinish the car.
In the introduction, Kevin explains what this video is about and touches on the importance of maintenance.
The first section is "Carwash 101," in it he shows you how to wash your car. He starts off with what to use and explains why it's important to be careful when choosing cleaning products. He then goes into the process of washing the exterior, rolling stock, and engine compartment as well as how to repair paint that has been damaged by harsh environmental factors like acid rain. The whole time he's busy giving tips, advice, and warnings about the whats, hows, and whys of cleaning off a car. By the end of this section, I had a really good idea of what I could do to bring my car back to it's original luster as well as how to do it.
"Interior Tips and Supplies" follows the section on car washing. Kevin starts out by going over a number of tools and supplies he's going to use in this section. He then takes you through the process of cleaning and detailing the rugs, seats and trim. Along the way, he shows you some great tips and tricks as well as an inexpensive way to repair minor damage to carpets.
"Leather Care" is a short section that continues with the interior theme. It covers leather cleaning and conditioning, and illustrates the kinds of results you can get from a minimal amount of work.
"Leather Care" is followed by another short section, "Leather Repair." In this section, Kevin shows you an inexpensive method for the repair of small cuts and tears.
Before moving on to other areas of the car, "Headliner Replacement" takes you through the steps necessary to replace the headliner in a late model car. Although it's a bit more involved than cleaning and detailing, it's not beyond most people's abilities if they follow the simple instructions, and use patience and care.
"Glass Care & Repair" starts with an interesting "old school" (as Kevin puts it) method to clean glass and keep it from streaking in the process. He then shows you how to repair small rock chips and continues on to demonstrate how to repair everything from worn haziness in a windshield to "deep" scratches in windows.
After the care and repair of glass, Kevin moves on to the restoration of hazy and yellowing composite headlamps in "Composite Headlamp Restoration." Although this section is short, he shows you an impressive improvement in the clarity of old headlamps using a simple and inexpensive (as compared to headlamp replacement) method.
In "Exterior Tips and Techniques" he covers another way to help keep a car looking its best, repairing the oxidation that can happen on uncoated plastic trim.
"Paint Repair" continues the exterior focus of "Exterior Tips and Techniques" and demonstrates both a simple method as well as a more involved invisible scratch repair. Both are far easier than refinishing the area.
Immediately after demonstrating the "easy" paint repair methods, Kevin shows you where to find the paint code locations on your car in "Paint Code Locations" so that you can pick the right touch up paint to match your car.
Next, he illustrates a method of detailing brake calipers and drums to give them a nice, clean look through the spokes and holes in your wheels.
"Buffing Oxidation" carries on the paint theme and includes two parts as he goes more in-depth and shows how to repair dull metallics and severely oxidized single stage paints.
In "Color Sanding and Buffing" he illustrates two different methods to detect paint type, gives some tips to help you decide how to proceed, then follows with color sanding and buffing urethane clears.
In the two parts following the buffing and color sanding, he shows a couple of alternative detailing tricks to keep paint finishes clean and shining.
"Clay Majic" covers the reasons for and use of the clay bar product by the same name.
"Quick Spray Detailer" illustrates and explains the application of these products to keep a car nice and shiny between washes and waxes.
In the following section, "Pinstriping Tape," he goes in-depth, again, to show you how to apply and remove pinstriping tape, as well as how to add custom touches to make a vehicle even more unique and personalized. As in nearly every other segment on his videos, he shares some personal insights into pinstriping that help to keep you from making mistakes and make the job easier.
The last three sections show you how to clean, repair, polish, and protect chrome and other metal trim and components.
In "Chrome Polishing" Kevin explains some of the limitations that chrome has and shows you how to clean and polish chrome to make dull, tarnished chrome sparkle.
In "Repairing and Polishing Aluminum," he points out that while aluminum looks great, it has inherent problems that give it special needs to keep it looking its best. He goes through the process of repairing a nick in an aluminum pulley cover, polishing it to a shine and finally sealing it for long term use. To finish this section off, he briefly touches on aluminum wheel polishing.
The video comes to a close with "Stainless Steel Repair" and illustrates the process needed to repair dented and heavily scratched stainless trim. Incidentally, this section was an unexpected bonus for me. Long before I knew about the Paintucation series, I really wanted to know how to repair stainless trim. I'd read everything I could find about it, but never seen it done. Although short, Kevin does a great job illustrating how to do it!
After watching the series, I found I was really pleased with it. It's informative, helpful, confidence inspiring, and entertaining. Kevin has a fun sense of humor, which keeps the lessons from being dry. As a bonus, each video has a bloopers section at the end.
While I haven't had a chance to test much of my newfound knowledge, I'm looking forward to using all of it at the first available opportunity!
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