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Measuring Large Profiles

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  • Measuring Large Profiles

    Hi folks,

    A novice question here. After watching Peters DVD course I see the importance of measuring panel profiles and making templates.

    I need to make a profile template of a door skin that is that is 24inches (610mm) tall. I have a 6inch (150mm) profile gauge. I figure either I need to take multiple measurements with the profile gauge, find a longer one, or possibly use a drafting compass and scribe the profile on the template.

    what is the best way to measure and make a long profile template?


  • #2
    Bill Tromblay may post more about his method to use corrugated plastic (as used for yard signs), trimmed closely to the desired profile. After using a release agent like plastic wrap and/wax on the original surface being patterned, He then generously covers and packs the edge of the trimmed plastic with bondo and presses & holds it against the original surface. Once hardened, it makes a very accurate pattern. I haven't done it yet but it sounds great.

    me- I was trained (in stone work) to use card stock, trimming smaller pieces to a very good fit, then overlapping and securely attaching each piece to the next until I have a full pattern. ​​​Mounting a solid armature (board or similar) close to the profile being measured to attach these piece to helps keep the pattern in proper shape. I like to have a straight edge to help index all the pieces during the process. Depending upon the job, I'll transfer this assembled pattern information to stiff plastic or sheet metal and make a durable pattern. I'll attach some finished patterns to a piece of board when needed to stiffen it for use, usually mimicking the card stock & board arrangement. Label the specifics about your pattern on the pattern and add it to the pattern inventory, just in case...

    The drafting compass and scribe method- if I'm thinking of the same thing you are- is good for approximating but not very precise. Any inconsistencies in how you hold and move the tools will compromise the results. It's an easy way to make a lot of no-good patterns, wasting time, money and materials.. Sometimes you can cut up the sections that fit well, attach to each as described above but it's a crap shoot for most people.

    Theres lots of of ways to make patterns, from smart to laughable. The way I do it is how I was trained because it's fast, cheap and effective. Bill's method is the only other method I've seen that makes professional sense.


    • #3
      Thanks Cliffrod, I just went down the waste of time, materials, and a lot of no good patterns pathway. 🤦‍♂️

      as you pointed out the scribe got close but to many inconsistencies due to how I hold and moved it to be right on. That Bondo idea and plastic corrugated sheet sounds like a great idea and precise.

      ill wait till others chime in to see what other options there are. Some of the things that seem like they should be easy can really be frustrating.


      • #4
        I have made a profile from a 20mm x 1.2mm wide piece of gal steel. I stretched one edge on the anvil and used a cross-pein woodwork hammer, to do the stretching.

        The woodwork hammer is much faster than a stretching hammer and marks on the surface don't matter, because only the profile matters. If it gets stretched too far, then the opposite side can be stretched to bring it back.

        The profile can also be filed to shape and the template is durable and doesn't rust,

        Cheers Charlie


        • cliffrod
          cliffrod commented
          Editing a comment
          spanked by Charlie again... nicely played! I probably should do this as well and will give it a try for more subtle transitions in shape.

      • #5
        i do the same as charlie, strip of metal or aluminium, use the shrinker/stretcher to create the curve
        thanks neil


        • #6
          I do similar to Bill Tromblay.
          I use thin scrap plywood. I get it close to the profile with my bandsaw then bondo the edge. I use 1/2 inch masking tape over the area I am pulling the profile from.
          Then press the roughed out plywood with bonded edge onto the masking taped area. Let it setup good. It always comes off easy and makes very good profiles.
          I think Bill's method may be better as you can cut the corrugated sign stock with scissors. Easier and faster then the plywood method
          David Bradbury


          • #7
            Thanks for the ideas guys. I'm gonna give both a try and see what one is best for me.

            Chazza & neilb

            On the metal profile template: what is the process of making it? I understand the stretching and shrinking part, but do you hold it up to the body panel, see where it needs to be stretched/ shrinked, bring it to the stake anvil and hammer it, bring it back to the body panel to test fit, and do this over and over till it is right?

            Thanks again,


            • Chazza
              Chazza commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, that is the method.

              The template and the panel/shape need reference marks on them, so that they are always checked in exactly the same place in relation to each other.

              The first project I ever did like this, was a marking-out template for a mudguard I was making. The template has all of the fastening hole locations marked on it, with 1mm holes. When it is clamped to the panel the hole locations can be pilot-drilled or sprayed.

              All of the skills were learnt from Peter's DVD's!

              As Cliffy would say: "Very cool!"

          • #8
            Ok I just gave the sheet metal profile a go. I did a little one to start, just to get the feel of it. I stretched one side, test fit, back and forth, then a little grinding to get over the body line. It took me about 40 minutes to make, but I’m a novice so factor that in. Obviously this little piece could have been made with a profile gauge much quicker, but I want to practice the technique.

            next up I’m trying the Bondo technique.


            • #9
              I used to do it that way but for me it took to much time.
              So I went to the plywood bondo method. Much faster and easier for me to do.
              David Bradbury


              • #10
                Gents, when you have rebuilt an entire car you start to think and feel like the draughtsman who uses technical drawing tools and engineering sweeps to design the car .Also what I found interesting when l was making the Aston Martin panels is all the folds on the panels matched the period FJ Edwards box&pan folder.
                So for big panels on bonnets etc get yourself some automotive sweeps or make some. hope Peter T will agree with me .


                • #11
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                  • #12
                    Mike how do you measure & make your own large sweeps?

                    I see in a lot of pictures of the professional panel beater shops online, all the automotive sweeps on a cart. But what I'm talking about are the profiles you have to make to replicate a panel with many critical body lines and returns. In Peter's DVD's # 7,8,9 he showed some the template profiles (And stated that there were many more that he wasn't showing) he used to make the quarter for the Monaro. I was wondering what people here did to make them. So far there is metal strips stretched/ Shrink, and plastic corrugated board with bondo filler on the end. Both are better than what I was trying to do.



                    • neilb
                      neilb commented
                      Editing a comment
                      any detail swage lines in the panel out come the contour gauges, i have a few of them, some masking tape on them and number them reference to the panel placement

                  • #13
                    Justin Baker here in U.K. sale them , Fay Butler in US . There could be a chart online , so you can CNC them.

                    cheers Matt

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                    • #14
                      peter sells the sweep sets too, they are really handy and i would love a set, but using the method i do i can create an ever deceasing or increasing radii, panels very rarely need 1 sweep, i've seen peter have 2 sweeps clamped together to follow a curve. it's much quicker to do that than make a sweep just for 1 curve. unfortunately i don't get paid for doing my work. if i was, i would clamp 2 sweeps together
                      thanks neil


                      • #15
                        Wow those sweep sets are expensive! But a must have when your in business as a professional I suppose.

                        It looks like the best for me will be either the strips of metal shaped to what ever i'm trying to duplicate or the board and bondo method which seems super accurate and quick.