Pros: Works great at repairing dents or holes in metal, inexpensive, easy to use
Cons: Smells bad, a small amount of hardener is supplied
Many years ago, I went shopping at a local mall. As I was getting out of my car, two guys approached me in the parking lot. "Hey!" One of them said. "I can fix that dent in your door right here for cheap!" He mentioned. I am always skeptical of salesman who approach me to do business unsolicited. "No thanks." Was my instinctive reply.
I began to walk on, but the guy was persistent. "Why not?" Then I began to think. I HATED that dent in my car door, but there by some hit and run driver months ago. I told the guy I could not afford it. "It will only cost $50." He replied.
Hmmmm...$50? I could afford that. The guy was a sure genius of persuasian. He supplied me with a business card with his name and phone number along with an auto body shop name on it. "And if you do not like the work, you do not have to pay for it!"
"$50, eh?" I gave him the go ahead and he and the other guy quickly went into a van and came out with all sorts of tools. First, he pulled out a cordless drill. He drilled several holes in the dent. Then, he had a puller tool with a screw point on it. He screwed the point into the drilled hole and pulled the dent out. Then he used a wire brush tool that he attached to his cordless drill and stripped all of the paint off around the dent. He followed this up with a light sanding. Then, he opened a can of Bondo Auto Body Filler, spooned out a gray glob onto a pie pan, then added a squirt of a red colored hardener to the glob and then he mixed it up. He then quickly spread the now pinkish glob over the dent area with a small plastic trowel, and feathered it out. He began putting away all of his tools. Then, after about five minutes, he hand sanded the area with a course sand paper using a sanding block. He followed that up with a finer grain sandpaper. Finally, he spit on a small piece of wet/dry sandpaper and went over the dent and edges where the filler met the paint. He then sprayed the area with water from a pump bottle, and cleaned it off. Then, he sprayed the repaired area with a light gray primer using a can of spray paint.
This all took less than a half hour. When he was finished, the dent was completely gone! I looked over the area from all sides and it was now perfectly smooth. I asked him if he was going to paint it the same color of the car too? "Not for $50. If you want, you can call me at the auto body shop and we can match the color for you. It will probably cost about $100." Satisfied, I paid the man, and he disappeared to find his next client.
A few days later I tried calling the auto body shop, but the phone number was disconnected. I later discovered that the "fix on the spot" operation was a flim-flan act. My uncle told me I was lucky that they used Bondo - many times they use joint compound or other junk that will wash off. I also learned that dents such as the one I had in my car door only cost about $25 to fix at an auto body shop! Furthermore, painting was the expensive part and it would cost over $100 to paint even the small area.
Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the simplicity of making this repair. I had another car - a cool looking old Mustang - with LOTS of dents. I decided to have some fun fixing the dents myself using my newly acquired knowledge. I picked up a 1 pint can of Bondo for only $3 at Walmart. I started with a nasty dent in the fender. I followed the steps layed out above and got similar results. I found that the Bondo drys VERY fast! You need to mix quantities of base and hardener in amount about the size of a golf ball. Work quickly and smooth the mixture out as much as possible. It is better to use layers, for big dents, then to try and do it all at once and sand the hardened Bondo down. Once dried, the Bondo becomes super hard and it is like sanding rock down.
I got the hang of it pretty quickly. To me, this was easy work! I love doing artistic work, and it is actually fun work for me. Once sanded, I sprayed the area with a primer to keep the bare metal parts from rusting. The results were beautiful! I later finished working on the other dents in the car and ended up with a first-class looking job. I had the car re-painted at Maaco for about $200, then sold it.
I use Bondo to repair other things too. It is a great filler material for filling in rusted out areas. I've used it to fill in holes in kiddy rides I am restoring. I've also used it to repair a dented panel on a metal garage door. I first banged out the dent, wire brushed the paint off, then filled it in with Bondo. I sanded that with a sanding machine, and repainted it. It looks great!
I primarily use it fill in dings and dents I find on my cars and trucks. Another time I was coming back out of a store and I saw someone had backed into the rear fender of my old Ford Ranger. Another hit and run. (What's wrong with people?) I banged the dent out, removed the paint, then applied the Bondo to get the Fender back like new. It looked great!
Using this product is not right for everyone. A buddy of mine tried using it once and made a big mess. I had to bail him out, and removing hardened Bondo is quite an ordeal. I had to use a grinder - and it was not easy!
The stuff is made of some sort of epoxy resin and fiberglass mixed into a filler. Once applied and hardened, the stuff is fairly waterproof (I fixed several items with Bondo several years ago that were left out in the rain without any paint on them). It sticks tenaciously to anything it comes in contact - clothes, skin, floors, metal, etc.
For patching holes, I usually use nylon spackling tape or nylon screens. I cut out a piece big enough to cover the hole, scrape off paint, then add a little Bondo around the edges. Then I quickly put the screen over the hole and trowel the edges so that the screen is embedded in the Bondo. Once dry (in about 5 minutes), I apply a coat of Bondo over the entire surface. It dries to a hard, secure shell.
There are a couple of downsides. First, the stuff has a horrific smell. It is not wise to use this stuff in a closed in area where you have to breath Bondo vapors. Second, I usually tend to run out of hardener long before I use up the full can of filler. They provide such a small amount of hardener!
Overall, I am very satisfied with this product! It has been around for many years, and it is the same stuff pros use. It can be found in any car parts store and in most retail stores that sell automotive parts and equipment. The stuff has a shelf life of about one year, if you keep it from freezing. I store mine in my basement.
I highly recommend this product for do-it-yourself handy people like myself as well as professionals alike. It is rather easy to get the knack. Many times if you do all of the dent work on your car prior to having it painted you can save a lot of money. Thanks for reading my review and best wishes for a nice day!