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    The newbie guide to custom kick panels

    Well people, after many trials and tribulations, I have finally constructed my first set of kick panels. Before I began this project, I was a complete newbie; I had never tried to fiberglass once in my life. But during the process I learned a lot of things, and I figured I'd share them with the forum. Hopefully this tutorial can help some people who are in the same boat I used to be in. So without any further ado, here goes nothin'

    These are the materials you will need; you can get just about everything at Home Depot:
    - A gallon of fiberglass resin
    - A coupe extra tubes of hardener
    - 2 or 3 packages of fiberglass mat
    - A big box of disposable gloves
    - Lots and lots of cheap brushes (use bristle brushes, not foam)
    - A dropcloth, painters tarp, or garbage bags
    - A Dremel with a fiberglass cutting bit (#542)
    - Painter's tape
    - Fleece
    - Spray adhesive/liquid nails/epoxy/hot glue gun
    - Wood dowels
    - Sandpaper
    - Body filler
    - A mold release agent (WD-40, vaseline, a non-stick cooking spray, astroglide, petroleum jelly, etc)
    - Carpet or vinyl or paint and primer
    - Coarse thread drywall screws

    First things first - before we do any work on the kicks, run all your wires and clear the area out. If you're mounting the crossovers in the trunk and need to run 2 sets of wires per kick, be sure to put some tape on both ends of one wire so you don't get them confused. Once you get the area cleared, it's time to begin taping it off with painters or masking tape; be sure to use the widest tape you can find. It's a good thing to be generous here; go at least a few inches bigger than you plan on making the actual panel. Make sure the tape is flush with the actual base, as the tape will form the shape of your mold. To avoid any resin leaking through and onto your carpet, use two layers of tape, criss-crossing the layers. If you have a newer car and want to be absolutely positive nothing gets on the interior, put some aluminum foil between the two layers of tape. Once resin gets on your interior, it is not coming off.



    Now hold your baffle(s) up to where the panel is going to be, and draw a rough outline of the size of the panel. The only purpose this will serve is so you know where to lay the mat, so you aren't stuck with an extra foot of fiberglass and wasted mat/resin. When laying the mat down, remember to go about an inch or two past this line, to ensure that the panel will have uniform thickness. Then, apply a mold release agent onto the tape to aide in removing the mold from it later on.



    Now comes the tricky part.....the actual fiberglassing. I'm going to do my best in trying to explain it.

    First and foremost, get your workstation set up properly. An organized workspace will ensure a faster worktime, less headaches, and it will help you get into a seamless routine. This is what mine looks like:



    ^ On the outside of the car, I have a good amount of dixie cups pre-filled halfway with resin (2 oz), a big box of disposable gloves, a few tubes of hardener, and some brushes.



    ^ On the inside, I have a plastic tarp covering up the area that is not taped off, and I have a package of fiberglass mat cut up into pieces that are roughly five inches square.

    Now, onto the fiberglassing! First, put on some gloves; believe me, you will need them. Mix up a batch of resin/hardener, following the manufacturers ratio. Before doing anything, brush a light coat of the mixture onto the tape itself. Take a piece of the mat and stick it onto one of the corners, remembering to go at least an inch over your line. With just your hands, try to smooth it out so you can (hopefully) avoid air bubbles. Dip the tip of your brush into the mixture, and poke it onto and through the mat, working from one edge to the other. Continue with this process until the entire piece is flush with the base and is transparent. Grab another piece, stick it next to the previous one, making sure to overlap a little bit, and repeat. Continue like this until you've worked your way around the entire panel.

    Once you get used to the process, you'll be able to get into a routine (which is why an organized workspace is vital). This is how mine went:

    1) Grab a dixie cup halfway full with resin.
    2) Mix in the proper amount of hardener.
    3) Put on gloves and grab a brush.
    4) Start putting the mat on until the mixture is gone.
    5) Throw the brush and gloves away and grab new ones.
    6) Mix up another batch of resin/hardener.
    7) Continue fiberglassing.

    Now after doing this on three separate occasions, I have learned a few secrets, so read these and (hopefully) you won't make the mistakes I did.

    1) Work in small batches. Don't mix up six ounces of resin/hardener, because chances are the working time of the mixture will be over before you're even halfway through with the batch. I found it easiest to work in two ounce batches, which is exactly one half of a dixie cup. But if you're only comfortable working with an ounce at a time, then by all means go for it. There's no need to sacrifice the quality for the sake of time.

    2) Take your time. This is fiberglass, not Nascar, so there's no need to rush anything. Work very slowly, making sure the mat is laid down perfectly flush with the base. If you see an air bubble, squish it out by squeezing the bristles of the brush into it and outwards to the edge. Air bubbles are not good for fiberglass.

    3) Don't use gobs and gobs of resin. Dip the tip of your brush lightly into your mixture, and work just enough of it into the mat so it becomes transparent. If you load the brush up with the resin/hardener and slop it onto the mat haphazardly, it will just drip down and create little "resin bubbles."

    4) Don't use a painting stroke when applying the resin/hardener to the mat. As aforementioned, dip just the tip of your brush into the mixture, and sort of poke/jab it into the mat so it penetrates through.

    5) And last, but not least, contruct a small "test subject" first. Just work on fiberglassing a few pieces so you can get used to the process and try to get yourself into a routine. Don't just go right at the project unprepared. The more comfortable you are with the process, the faster and better the final product will turn out.

    Once you get this all done, it should look something like this:



    Let this mold cure for at least 3 or 4 hours, I let mine cure over-night just to be on the safe side.
    Last edited by req; 05-27-2008 at 01:15 AM. Reason: dead picture links fixed



    "The world is full of people who want nothing short of perfect,
    but settle for less, blinded by their quest for purpose."
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    Now rip the mold out of your car and get all the tape off the back; it should fit like a glove. If it doesn't, then you made a mistake and it's time to start over. But if you didn't, then you can move on to trimming the panel. Hold your baffle up to the panel, and draw an outline of what you want to trim off.



    Now take your dremel and insert the fiberglass cutting bit (number 542), then simply cut around the edges. Make sure to wear some form of safety glasses, as there will be powder flying all over the place. When you get it all trimmed off, put in the sanding bit, and sand the edges down so they're nice and smooth.



    It's now time to mount the baffle onto the base using dowels. For an adhesive, you can use hot glue, liquid nails, epoxy, etc. I prefer liquid nails because it's very thick, and thus fills in the gaps easily. Before doing anything in this stage, drill a hole in the panel for your wires to run through.



    Now I've read about people spending weeks and weeks to get the absolutely perfect imaging, but I personally don't think it's THAT important. Just don't mount them anywhere you please for the sake of getting it done. Steve (ss3079) taught me a nice trick to get good imaging - use a laser pointer. Line the pointer up with roughly the middle of the baffle (or tape it on), and move the panel around until it points to the center of your headrest. Hold it in place with one hand, and use the other to measure the distance from the bottom of the baffle to the base. Cut a dowel to this length and glue it on so you no longer have to hold the baffle in place. Put the panel back in to make sure everything lines up. If the laser still points to your headrest, you're golden, but if it points to the window or something, you'll have to re-do it. Now, picture a triangle that goes around the edges of the baffle, and measure the distances at each corner, and cut some dowels to their respective lengths, and glue them on. Let this sit until the baffle is secured nice and tight.



    Now we can move on to streching the fleece over the kick. Once again, you can use hot glue/liquid nails, but I found it easier to use spray adhesive, 3M #90 to be exact. The key with this process is to make the fleece as tight/taut as possible. The more time you spend getting this correct, the less time you'll have to spend layering/sanding body filler. First, cut out a square of fleece, making sure it's big enough to strech over the entire kick with about an inch of excess material. Then put some adhesive over the entire baffle. Stretch out the middle of the fleece so it's nice and tight, and carefully stick it on to the baffle. Make sure to retain the tautness while laying it down, and remember to get it as smooth as possible. Let this sit for the manufacturers recommended drying time. Afterwards, lay your kick upside down so the base is facing upwards. Put some adhesive on the underside of the base, about one inch in depth and two inches across. Pull the fleece in this corrensponding area as taut as possible, and sort of hover it over the adhesive. Look to make sure that there are no big "pits" in the fleece and that everything looks tight and smooth. When you've confirmed this, lay it down on the adhesive and smooth it out. Repeat this process all the way around the entire panel. When you're done, simply trim off the excess material and you're good to go.



    Now it's time to fiberglass the fleece - this part is easy. Simply mix up a nice sized batch of resin/hardener, and slop it onto the fleece. There are a things thing you have to remember here:

    1) Make sure you use enough of the mixture so that it penetrates all the way through the fleece. Basically, just keep on putting the mixture on until the fleece no longer soaks it up. I used about 30/35 oz per kick, which is roughly a half-gallon total.
    2) Don't put the mixture too far over the part of the fleece where your baffle holes are. You're going to trim this part off at the end.
    3) Once again, work in small areas. If you try to work your way around the entire kick at once, the mixture will begin to harden before you can put enough resin on for the fleece be thoroughly saturated.

    Once you finish, let the kicks cure for about forty-five minutes.



    Now lightly sand the hardened fleece and fiberglass a layer of mat all the way around, following the aforementioned steps. Let this cure for at least an hour or two, then give it a light sand.



    Now get your dremel, and cut/sand out the fleece around the baffle holes. I used the cutting bit to get as close to the edge as possible, and used the sanding bit to get it flush.

    Last edited by req; 05-27-2008 at 01:19 AM.



    "The world is full of people who want nothing short of perfect,
    but settle for less, blinded by their quest for purpose."
    - Slug



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    Now it's time for the most godawfully tedious part of this project - body filler.

    First things first - the key to applying body filler is to remove as much as possible/smooth it out as much as possible while it's soft. Once it hardens, the only thing you'll be able to use is elbow grease.

    Now, if you're like me and you didn't have the tools to make perfect circles on your baffles, don't fear, there is hope. Simply lay your grill base down in the baffle, then cut out some poster board and wrap it around the grill, making sure to put some mold release on the outer edges. Then, just fill in all the gaps with body filler; let it cure, take everything out, sand it down, and voila, you'll have a perfect circle.





    Now, onto making the entire kick smooth. There are two options here; you can either just put body filler where you need it (i.e. pits and uneven spots), or you can put a layer around the entire kick. The first way will be easier and require less work, but the second way will make the kick uniformly smooth. There's really no better option, as long as it's done correctly. Now how fine and smooth you sand everything depends on what you plan to cover the kick in. If you're using paint/vinyl, it's going to have to be as perfect as humanly possible; every tiny little imperfection will show through and look five times worse when covered. If you're using carpet, you have some margin for error, so it only needs to be relatively smooth. If you're unsure about whether it's smooth enough or not - keep on sanding.



    Now flip the kick over.



    Put the sanding bit in your dremel, and sand off all the excess fleece/fiberglass so it becomes flush with your base. Then give the edges a quick sand to make them smooth.



    Now onto covering them....I chose carpet, as it provides a larger margin for error, and looks best with my interior. The process is basically the same as applying the fleece, but your adhesive has to be used all the way around. Hot glue/fabric glue/spray adhesive will do the job, but I found spray adhesive to be the easiest. If you've never covered any odd shapes in fabric, it will frustrate you early on, and you might want to practice it without using any adhesive to get the hang of it. Here are a few tips I learned in the process:

    1) As you did with the fleece earlier, start by adhering the carpet to the top of the panel. You'll have more problems if you try to start from the bottom or side.

    2) Again, work in small areas, but not too small. Consider each "area" about 1/5 of the entire panel, giving you 5 different areas. You shouldn't need to work in areas much smaller than this, unless your kick has some really odd bends and curves in it.

    3) Find the spot on your panel that is hidden from your vision the most (spot A); then make an imaginary line directly across the panel and start here. Work your way evenly around each side, until they meet at spot A. This will give you a little room for error, so any mistakes you may come across, you can "hide" in an area that won't be seen.

    4) Lastly...I'll do my best to explain this in words....as you work your way around the panel, try to pull the material back towards you, cutting little notches in the carpet along the base so it won't overlap. If you do this enough, you wont have to make a finish seam on the panel and it will look better. Sorry I can't explain it any better.....if you play around with the carpet for a little bit, you should be able to get the hang of it.

    This is what the almost finished product will look like:



    The underside of the panel:



    And the final kick panel with the holes cut out:



    Now place the kicks into your car. Grab your drill, put in a bit that is slightly smaller than the shaft of your drywall screws, and drill a few pilot holes. Screw the drywall screws in until the head begins to bite into the fiberglass. Use as many screws as is needed. Then simply do all your wiring, mount the speakers, and bump away.





    Good luck!
    Last edited by req; 05-27-2008 at 01:25 AM. Reason: fixed dead picture links



    "The world is full of people who want nothing short of perfect,
    but settle for less, blinded by their quest for purpose."
    - Slug



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    Re: The newbie guide to custom kick panels

    This one went into my saved html files folder man. Great job.

    One question: it looks like you have a foot pedal type parking brake like I do - will the brake lever clear the kicks? I don't think mine would, and I haven't found a conversion setup to make the parking brake a hand lever.



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    Yeah, that's the E brake, and it just barely clears the kick. If you're worried about yours, you could just put the pedal all the way down, and make the fiberglass there sort of in the shape of a tear drop so it fits underneath the lever...



    "The world is full of people who want nothing short of perfect,
    but settle for less, blinded by their quest for purpose."
    - Slug



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    Re: The newbie guide to custom kick panels

    awesome job and great explanation...but we can't see the last 2 pics

    -nate




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    none of the pics show up for me. dang man i wanna see these pics and read this novel lol but no book is good without pics.

    adam



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    Steve a.k.a. ss3079: So this one lady goes, "These ignorant people who drive around blasting there music, they cant hear emergency vehicles"
    So that set me off, and I said "Well then why do they let deaf people drive?"

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    i cant see the pictures .



    The Little People Beware!

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    Pictures should work now...



    "The world is full of people who want nothing short of perfect,
    but settle for less, blinded by their quest for purpose."
    - Slug



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    Awsome explaination and job...looks great. (Almost makes me want to get rid of my q-forms and make some.)



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    very nicely done. i like trixter almost want to ditch my q-logic kicks and make some of my own. bah i'll just make my q-logic's look custom hehe.

    adam



    2006 Bright Island Blue 6s: stock 6 disc in dash, Hertz Hi-Energy 6.5" comps, MB Quart Ref 12", eclipse 5-channel sub amp.

    Car mods: Lowered on Mazdaspeed springs with Koni Yellow shocks, Racing beat front/rear sway bars with AWR end links, LED turn signals, tail lights, front side markers, 18" ADR Cypher rims, 55w HID's in low beam and fogs, 5% tint all the way around. No go fast mods yet...tuning and Mazda6 don't go well together .

    Steve a.k.a. ss3079: So this one lady goes, "These ignorant people who drive around blasting there music, they cant hear emergency vehicles"
    So that set me off, and I said "Well then why do they let deaf people drive?"

    AOL: JmKeenen

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    id rather just buy em' and not take the chance. but great job and thx for the info



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    i drive at the speed limit... this way i can listen to music longer

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    Re: The newbie guide to custom kick panels

    Quote Originally Posted by LuNaTiC
    id rather just buy em' and not take the chance. but great job and thx for the info
    What chance would you be taking?



    "The world is full of people who want nothing short of perfect,
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    Re: The newbie guide to custom kick panels

    Quote Originally Posted by LuNaTiC
    id rather just buy em' and not take the chance. but great job and thx for the info
    Why spend $120-$150+ when you can do them yourself for a lot less? It's a fun and fairly easy 2-5 day project ...

    - Steve



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    Re: The newbie guide to custom kick panels

    and the more stuff you do with fiberglass, the better you get. you can make anything with fiberglass, and it looks good. if you screw up you can always sand or carpet.



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