MEASURING & SETTING SHEETMETAL GAPS WITH DRILL BITS
Establishing and then setting sheetmetal gaps on hoods, decklids, fenders, and doors can be a real pain. If the car has nice gaps before you tear it down, it’s a good idea to check them all first. There are a couple of different methods to do that, but the easy method we prefer is to check the respective dimensions with numbered drill bits.
To get there, first apply a strip of masking tape to each side of the gap (for example, a line of masking tape along the door edge and another along the facing fender edge). Then pick several spots, top to bottom of the gap, and insert a numbered drill bit. Use a go/no-go methodology. You will find that the gap actually varies quite a bit top to bottom. At each point where it changes, mark the drill bit dimension on the tape. Then photograph it. This way, you’ll have a permanent record of the gap before you tear down the car.
When the time comes for reassembly, tape the sheetmetal again, refer to your photos, and, using drill bits, move, nudge and shim everything back to where it was before it came apart. A tip: Most seasoned restorers advise setting the gap between the door and rear quarter-panel first and work outward from there.
Drill bits make a handy tool to measure panel gap. Simply insert the respective bits using a go/no-go system.
The trailing edge of the fenders and the leading edge of the doors were taped (heavily) on this Nova prior to removal and before reassembly. Automotive painter’s tape works perfectly.
Check the gap on several areas of the fender, and mark the dimension right on the tape. This way you can photograph it and you’ll have a perfect reference when reinstalling the fenders.