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Tag Archives: tools

  • Cracked Grill Repair - Eastwood Hot Stapler

    Many late model cars are made with plastic grills, bumpers, and interior trim.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this but the one area they lack is in their strength, even the slighest fender bender can cause them to crack or break off.  Not to mention that as plastic ages it can become weaker.  If you've ever tried, super glue will never hold the pieces together so repairing with that is out of the question.  Eastwood has a permanent way to repair your plastic interior and exterior parts and save you from having to buy new.  The Eastwood Hot Stapler allows you to re-attach the broken pieces by bridging the crack with a metal staple.  It doesn't just hold the two pieces together it fuses into the plastic by melting into both sides.


    Photo Oct 14, 2 28 08 PM

    The grill of this 2000 Silverado was damaged when a piece of mud was thrown off of another cars tire.  A new chrome grill for this truck costs around $100, this might not seem like much but depending on your car it may not be easy to locate replacement parts.



    After removing the clips that hold the grill to the radiator support, I was able to take the grill off and bring it into the shop.  The damage was actually a little worse than I had originally thought because the lower black plastic was completely gone.



    I removed the plastic tabs holding the two pieces of the grill together to reveal that the cracks along the inside were even worse yet.



    In order to make a hidden repair I decided to continue to separate the two grill halves until I had enough room to get the stapler in and repair the front half.  I used a welding magnet wedged in between them to keep the two separated so I had an extra hand to work.



    Using two needle nose locking pliers I was able to hold the two pieces together so they wouldn't move out of place, once I put the first staple in the position of the two pieces it is set in shape.



    I placed three of the wide staples along the flat edge, these will provide the main support.  I've found that once you press the staple into the plastic, push it to the side to completely submerge the metal under the plastic.  Doing this will prevent the staple from pulling straight out of the plastic.




    I removed the two clamps and put two of the narrower staples on each of the edges, placing them here will help prevent any twisting that might occur while driving down the road.



    To remove the staple tails use a pair of heavy duty flush cutters.  Do not use wire cutters, the hardness of the staple will gouge the cutting surface.



    While the two pieces were still separated I had to deal with the rest of the cracked plastic.  Since the majority of the black plastic will not be seen from the outside I was able to put staples on both sides of the cracks for extra support.



    To reconnect the crack that was in the corner, the kit comes with a special staple that is angled to fit directly into a corner.  These are great because corners like this are very prone to cracking and these staples are a very straight forward solution.



    Along the back side I followed the same procedure using both the wide and narrow depending on where each of the cracks were.



    From the factory both pieces of the grill were melted together at each of these tabs.  While disassembling the grill I was forced to cut away the melted plastic to separate them.  To rejoin the two I was able to use one of the narrow staples to melt them back together.



    The grill is now one solid piece again but Its not quite finished yet.  The crack along the plated piece caused the coating to peal off.  Look out for a future article where it will be sanded filled and repainted.


    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

  • Sheet Metal Cutting Tips and Tricks

    Working in sheet metal can be fun, and it can be frustrating, but if you like old cars eventually there will come a time when you will need to cut, and eventually even weld sheet metal. At first glance it seems as if it would be like working with paper or cardboard, just a little tougher, but paper products don’t stretch and deform like metal does when you try to bend, shape or cut it. Here are a few simple rules to make metal work easier.

    When working with sheet metal, always wear long, thick, leather gloves because it only takes a small slip to be cut to the bone with the sharp edge of a metal piece you are working on. Long welding sleeves are not a bad idea either, because sheet metal can cut deep, and accidentally slashing your wrists can be a very serious injury. Eye and face protection is a good idea as well.



    Tin snips or Aviation snips, are just like scissors for metal, and are great for smaller cuts or lighter gauge sheet metal.

    3 pane  

    Snips come in left, right and straight versions, color coded in a nautical fashion:

    Left = Red

    Right = Green

    Straight = Yellow

    Cutting with snips can be time consuming and physically taxing on your hands and arms, but great for cutting complicated, small shapes. Snips also leave an edge that is often a bit ragged and curved from the cutting.


    For longer cuts, or just getting the job done faster and neater, there is the Electric Metal Shear. An electric motor moves a small block up and down, pinching the metal between it and a fixed block on the other side.  The uniformity of the cut is much better with the electric shear, and the quality of the edge it leaves is better too. Plus it takes no effort and a lot less time to use.



    The small cutting blocks, compared to the size of the jaws on the snips, make it easier to use the shear to cut out tighter curved lines in metal parts. Most electrical powered shears have no problem cutting though up to 16 gauge steel, which can be nearly impossible with a pair of manual snips.



    Clamp your sheet metal securely to the table or bench so you have both hands free to maneuver the shears around. This will make things much easier.  Straight lines and even fairly tight curves are much easier to make with the electric shears.  To smooth out the slight curve the shears sometimes leave, if you have an English wheel, you can just use the flattest bottom anvil, and roll the edge through with minimal pressure.


    Just like any cutting tool, electric shears will eventually become dull over time.  We sell replacement jaw sets for our electric shear but don't worry, you wont need a new set for a long time.

    So these are some basic tips that should help you to cut and shape metal pieces for your next project quicker and easier. With a little practice you’ll be able to cut metal as if you were a school kid making paper snowflakes.

  • DIY Custom Spoiler End Plates

    Car enthusiasts are always looking for a way to have their car stand out from the crowd but buying off the shelf parts will only go so far.  There is a good chance that someone else out there wive the same combination of parts.  The best way to give your car a one of a kind look without fully custom fabricating is to buy something off the shelf and modify it your self.

    spoiler before

    Thats exactly what I did with this aftermarket spoiler that a friend put on his Sentra SE-R.  Of course this look isn't for everyone but there is one flaw that is more than apparent.  The endplates that this spoiler came with do not fit the rest of the part, and they had to go.  Sure there are numerous companies that sell "custom" end plates that you can easily swap out, but again anyone can buy those same ones, what's unique about that.


    Spoiler 1

    After some brainstorming we came up with a design that he liked and sketched it out on a piece of 14 GA Aluminum.


    Spoiler 2

    With one edge of the metal clamped down on the edge of a bench, I used my Air Body Saw to cut out the first plate.  I used the first, cut piece to trace the second one, so I would have two exact pieces.


    Spoiler 3

    The tricky part was determining the bolt hole locations. With the old end plates mounted we held up one of the new ones to its respective side and traced the old endplate onto the new one with permanent marker.  We then unmounted it and marked off the bolt holes with the old plate lined up to where it was previously traced.


    Spoiler 4

    I determined the correct hole size my test fitting different size drill bits into the old plate until I found the one that fit the best.  I then used a small drill bit as a pilot hole and then drilled the new plate to the proper size.

    To get the holes in the same place on both pieces I matched up the first plate to the second and used a marker to trace the holes.  I drilled these out the same as the first.



    Spoiler 5

    With both plates drilled I wanted to test fit them on the car to make sure the holes were in the correct spot and that both were matching.


    Spoiler 6

    Since the edges were still rough I used an 80 Grit Flap Disc on an Angle Grinder to smooth out any minor imperfections in the cut and round off the edges.

    I then went over both sides of the plates with 400 Grit sand paper to create a level surface to paint on.  The sand paper also helps the paint adhere to the metal because it leaves small scratches allowing the paint to also have a mechanical bond with the metal.  After both sides were completely sanded all it takes is a quick wipe down with PRE Painting Prep and they are ready to be primed and painted.


    Spoiler 7

    Before applying color I sprayed the end plates with EW Self Etching Primer with will create a better bond to the metal than just the paint would by itself.  For color I used EW 2K Satin Black Aerospray, this two part catalyzed aerosol spray paint is like having real automotive paint in a spray can.  Once it hardens it creates a much more durable finish that will not be affected by solvents like a normal spray paint would.


    IMG_3069 IMG_7273

    After they have been mounted on the car the difference is drastic,  the shape of these fit the spoiler to now have a consistent look.  No one else will have these endplates making his car truly one of a kind.  With the right tools and a little creativity you can fabricate parts for your ride so it'll stand out from the rest.


    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW


  • Quick Project- Portable MIG Welder Torch Holder

    It never fails when you're using your MIG welder, you set the torch down to adjust, hammer, or to lift your helmet and you can't find a good spot to hang your torch. Worse yet, the hot tip of the welding wire pokes you in the leg and burns you when you go to set it in your lap. I'm always looking for ways to consolidate my tools and make myself more efficient. I decided to make this quick little MIG Torch holder that fits on my magnetic ground post. Great beginner fabrication project!
  • Tips to tuning up your metal fab tools.

    You change the oil, rotate the tires, wax your car to keep it in tip-top shape right? Well why not your tools? Metal fabrication tools get used hard and often we forget that they need maintenance to keep them working well. I put together a handful of tips that will help you keep your tools cared for.

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