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Tag Archives: restore

  • How To Weld a Butt Joint

    One of the simplest welding joints is the butt joint. It is not the strongest, but it is one of the most useful especially for automotive body work. This type joint is used whenever you butt 2 pieces together and then weld between where the two meet. Butt welding thin sheet metal can be complicated because thinner metal has a tendency to burn through on the edges. This doesn't mean it's impossible, just that there are techniques that can be used to minimize these issues.  


    Because the edge of a piece of metal absorbs heat faster than a solid surface, you need to modify your technique with the electrode. Whether you are using wire feed, stick or TIG welding, you need to move the electrode quickly and dance around the weld area, to avoid burn through. With the stick welding technique, this can be done using a stitch welder, which moves the electrode in and out like a sewing machine needle when you pull the trigger.

    When done properly, a butt joint should show bead on both sides of the metal. One way to help insure this is to clamp the 2 pieces with a uniform gap between them. The Eastwood Butt Weld Clamp and Backer Set holds sheet metal slightly apart for better weld penetration and also helps hold the work tight to prevent warpage from the heat. These clamps also help to prevent crawl, which occurs when the metal tries to move away from the heat of the work area.

    Even with clamps, the first step in a butt joint is to tack weld along the entire length of the joint. Start with a weld every few inches, at a uniform distance, then go back and fill in with more tack welds between the first set. Before moving on to the final bead you should have welds about an inch apart along the entire joint. Even with this technique, there will be some distortion that needs to be hammered out afterwards, but this will help minimize it.



    Some welders prefer to use a weaving/zig zag or circular technique with thinner metals. This leaves you with a wider bead than you need, but it helps to spread out the heat of the weld to minimize burn through and warping. Before doing butt welds on something important, practice different angles with the electrode, rate of travel of your welding and length of your arc until you are comfortable with the thickness you need to weld, and establish your technique to avoid burning through it.

    How to weld a butt joint

    The picture above shows 4 different welds in cross section that you are likely to see when making TIG welded butt joints. Figure B shows correct technique, while examples A, C and D have various issues.


    A: A common mistake beginners make is to pile too much bead on the top side of the joint, in an attempt to keep from burning through. This can be because the weld was not hot enough or more likely because the electrode was not close enough to the surface for proper penetration. For a butt joint to be acceptable, the bead should envelope both edges on both sides of the work, so no trace of the original edge can be seen.


    butt weld b

    B: This is an example of the correct penetration of a butt joint. There is bead showing on both sides of the work, with the lower bead being slightly smaller than the upper weld.


    butt weld c

    C: When you have too much penetration, the weld will begin to show undercutting and take this shape. You can see how the bead has begun to sag through the joint and not fill the top side fully. Undercutting is where the thickness of the weld is actually less than the work being welded, which means a weak joint.



    D: This shows even more penetration and undercutting; the top bead has taken an almost concave shape. This is an even worse example than the one directly above.


    In addition to the common problems, there are also a few different ways you can prep the metal before it is welded.  The following only really applies when welding metal 1/8" or thicker because any thinner and you will almost always burn through.


    The first and most common is known as a square butt weld.  This is done when two flat pieces are up against each other. this is used for thinner metals and TIG welding.  If welding metal thicker than 3/16" this method should not be used because the weld will not penetrate far enough into the metal and will not be as strong.



    The next type of but joint is known as a bevel or double V joint. This type of weld is a must when welding metal 1/4" - 3/4".  When the edges of each piece are ground down it creates a valley or grove for the weld to sit in, this gives more surface area for the weld to bond the two panels.



    The third type of butt joint is known as a double bevel or double 'V" and is the strongest type of butt joint.  This type of joint is used in areas where weld strength is critical.  This type of weld is usually used when welding metal thicker than 3/4" but can also be used on thinner metals if more strength is needed.


    It is true that the strength of welds when doing butt joints to body panels is not as critical as when doing structural repairs. However, properly welded butt joints will make the repair look better with less grinding and body filler. A well done joint will also last much longer, while a poorly done repair may crack and ruin the paint and body work after just a few miles of driving. Because of this, it’s important to practice and get the underlying repairs correctly done before moving on to the next phase. Learn the proper butt joint technique, and you will use it on countless welding jobs.

  • How to Restore Car Headlights

    Out of all minor automotive restoration projects, restoring your headlights is among the most important. After years of use, headlights can get cloudy, rendering their effectiveness much weaker and therefore more dangerous. This is why it is important to restore them to their original clear state in order to ensure your safety as a driver. Below, we discuss the best ways to clean and restore your vehicle's headlights.

    Different Methods of Restoration

    Cloudy headlights can affect just about any time of car make and model, from foreign to domestic. With headlight restoration, you can get rid of this cloudiness by cleaning the headlight lenses with headlight cleaner kits or with individual basic items found at an auto parts supply store. This will save you the expense of full replacements, and it is a quick and simple process.

    There are a number of different ways you can restore your headlights. For one, purchasing a Headlight Deoxidizer and applying to your headlights can be a fast option, as can using simple toothpaste, but these options are for immediate results for minor fixes and do not equal the quality of a thorough restoration. The two main methods we are focusing on today are using a glass cleaning solution method and a more thorough masking tape and sandpaper method.

    Using a Glass Cleaning Solution

    Here is what you will need for the glass cleaning method of restoration: glass cleaning solution, lint-free polishing cloth, car polish, car wax and a rotary buffer. This method is very simple and only requires a few steps. First off, if there is moisture on the inside of the glass, you must carefully remove the headlight lens from the car and let it dry before cleaning. If the damage is on the outside of the headlight, take your glass cleaning solution and spray it on the outside lens. Use a polishing cloth to thoroughly wipe the solution around and off of the lens to completely clean it. Make sure to not apply this solution in direct sunlight to avoid further spottiness or cloudiness. Again, if the damage is on the inside, repeat this step for the inside of the lens as well.

    Now, take some car polish and apply it to the outside of the lens. Make sure the polish has a very fine abrasive in it to lightly grind away at any accumulated dust, dirt or grime. Finally, use your rotary buffer to work in the polish, and apply a final car wax to the headlight to make the cleaning/repair last longer. Now, you have successfully restored your car headlight.

    Using Masking Tape and Sandpaper

    Here is what you will need for the sandpaper method of restoration: masking tape, simple soap and water, 600-grit sandpaper, 1200-grit sandpaper, 2000-grit sandpaper, 2500-grit sandpaper, multiple lint-free polishing cloths, plastic lens cleaner, plastic polish and car wax. The first thing to do is use your masking tape to make a protective tape border around the headlight to protect your vehicle's finish. Then, take your 600-grit sandpaper, and dip it into a bucket of light, soapy water. Lightly rub the fine sandpaper on the front of the headlight lens to clean any adhesive debris or grime off of the surface. Spray some plastic lens cleaner onto the headlight, and use a polishing cloth to evenly wipe around the cleaning solution.

    The next thing to do is remove the headlight's oxidation. Take another polishing cloth, dip one finger of it into your plastic polish, and with the lens still wet from the cleaner, apply the polish evenly across the entire headlight. Now, take your sandpaper from before, dip it into more soapy water, and begin to sand evenly from side to side across the headlight to work in the polish. Continue this sanding process with the 1200, 2000 and 2500-grit sandpapers, consecutively, making sure to get rid of any minor scratches left from the previous coarser grits. Apply another layer of the plastic polish, let it sit for a minute, then buff it with another polishing cloth.

    After cleaning the headline with soap and water to remove any excess polish residue, it is time to wax. Take a polishing cloth, and apply a quarter-sized amount of car wax to it, letting it sink into the cloth for several seconds. Apply the wax to the outside of the lens using a single stroke method gradually from left to right, top to bottom. Once all of the wax is completely worked into the headlight and the lens is completely clear and shiny, consider it restored.

    To learn more about car headlights and for various DIY car tutorials, be sure to visit

  • How to Seal & Restore a Gas Tank

    Over time, your vehicle's gas tank can start to corrode and even leak. That is why is is important to know how to restore your gas tank to rid it of any rust and seal any minor leaks. Below, we take a look at how to properly seal and restore your gas tank.

    Gas Tank Sealing and Restoration: Preparation

    The first thing you need to do is gather your materials. You will need: the Eastwood Gas Tank Sealer Kit, muriatic acid, 64 oz. of acetone, two gallons of hot water, a bucket and some safety gloves and goggles. If you have a small gas tank that holds one to five gallons, you will only need one pint of the Eastwood Gas Tank Sealer (included in the Gas Tank Sealer Kit). If you have a larger tank, use two pints per 20 gallon-capacity. If your gas tank contains baffles, increase the surface area, and be sure not to coat the tank if the tank, sealer or room temperature is below 60 degrees. Make sure the tank is completely dry and free of water before applying any surface prep solution or sealer.

    Make sure that you have enough time to complete the entire restoration job before starting to seal and restore your gas tank. The first thing to do is drain and remove the tank from your vehicle. Use warm, soapy water to wash out and rinse the tank entirely. Remove any valves, sending units, petcocks and internal filters from the tank, and make sure that the fill spout is the only opening in the tank. Now, it is time to start cleaning the inside of the tank.

    Gas Tank Sealing and Restoration: Execution

    First, mix the contents of your metal wash solution (from the sealer kit) with your two gallons of hot water in a bucket. Pour the mixture into the tank and slosh the contents around before letting it sit for five minutes at a time on each surface. Slosh the tank around again, and pour out the solution before thoroughly rinsing the inside with a hose. If any varnish inside the tank still remains, repeat the sloshing and rinsing process until all traces of varnish are gone. In an outside environment, add three ounces of muriatic acid to 60 ounces of water, making about half a gallon of 20-to-1 water-to-acid solution. It is important to wear your safety gloves and goggles during this process. Now add your diluted muriatic acid solution to the tank and slosh it around for about five to ten minutes. Make sure one opening is loosely capped to allow pressure to escape the tank. Repeat this step until all rust inside the tank is gone. Then, pour out the contents into a plastic container and neutralize the acid solution with baking soda until the fizzing ceases.

    After thoroughly rinsing the tank multiple times of all remaining solution, pour the entire bottle of Fast Etch (from the sealer kit) into the tank and slowly rotate it, allowing all surfaces to come in contact with the solution until the inside is consistently gray. Next, pour out the contents, and fill the tank will one quart of acetone. Slosh the acetone around inside the tank before pouring it out. Now, repeat this step with fresh acetone. After you empty the tank again, shake your Gas Tank Sealer, pour it into the tank and coat each inner surface by rotating the tank slowly. Open the fill spout, and let the tank sit for eight to ten minutes. Close the opening again, and slowly rotate the tank once again with the solution in it. Let the tank sit again for eight to ten minutes on a different side. Repeat this process multiple times until the inside has an opaque white coating. This solution should be allowed to dry inside the tank, each side equally coated. In order to properly prevent the sealer from collecting and drying unevenly on any one side, insert an air compressor line into one opening of the tank with all other openings closed, at between one and five psi. The tank should be completed dry within 48 hours at 60 degrees or warmer, and the coating should ultimately be rubbery with no odor emitting from inside the tank.

    If you want to further protect your gas tank from rust, use Eastwood's Tank Tone Metallic Coating. This solution contains zinc to prevent against any initial spread of corrosion inside your tank. After the entire process is complete, always be sure to store your Eastwood Gas Tank Sealer Kit at 70 degrees or cooler for an optimum three-year storage life. Also, for any clean up, use methyl ethyl ketone or acetone solutions, but be sure to dispose of them safely and legally. Be safe when working with these chemicals, and always make sure you use the proper equipment to successfully seal and restore your gas tank.

    To learn more about sealing gas tanks and for various DIY car tutorials, be sure to visit

  • Eastwood’s ‘Shop Talk’, Episode 36: TC Penick & The Crew of Bay One Customs

    Sit tight & listen to Kevin, joined by TC Penick and the boys from Bay One Customs, taking the time away from saving Kevin’s butt yet again for this week’s episode of Shop Talk.
  • Eastwood’s ‘Shop Talk’, Episode 35.5: TC Penick - Custom Builder & Owner of Bay One Customs

    On this upcoming episode, we’ll speak with TC Penick of Bay One Customs out of Springfield, Tennessee. TC turned heads at SEMA 2013 with his 1958 Chevy Cameo Concept Truck.

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