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How to Repair a Damaged Metal

So, your favorite metal piece has suffered some damage—maybe it’s fallen off a stand or faced a few too many bad weather days in the garden. What do you do? When it comes to cracks, chips, and dents, don’t despair! Repairing your statue is easy with a few common tools and materials.

This article will teach you how to repair a damaged metal statue using polyester automotive body filler.

Before You Start

Before you get to fixing your statue, there are a few things you’ll need to do first.

Gather Your Materials

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bondo or another polyester body filler
  • Disposable gloves
  • A mixing board (a plastic sheet or scrap metal work)
  • Spreaders (plastic or metal)
  • Surform
  • Sandpaper

Safety First

Safety always comes first! You’ll want to make sure you wear gloves while mixing the filler and wear a dust mask and eye protection while sanding.

Step #1: Prepare the Statue

First things first, you need to get your statue ready for repair. If your piece is smooth or painted, the filler won’t work as well as it needs to. Prep the area by sanding it down, from 36-grit to 180-grit. Filler works best on shallow issues like dents and cracks. For major damage, like a broken off limb, you’ll need to use a different process like welding.

Helpful Hints

  • For small or complex issues, cover the non-damaged areas with masking tape.

Step #2: Mix the Filler

Next up, you need to get the filler ready to go. Get your gloves on and start by putting the amount of filler you think you’ll need in a circle on your mixing board. Then, spread a line of hardener about as long as the circle next to the filler. Fold the two together with a spreader until they’re well mixed—don’t stir, as this will bring air bubbles into the mix.

Helpful Hints

  • The filler will heat up as it’s mixed—it should be about 75 degrees and light pink, like a Band-Aid.
  • Your filler will start to harden as soon as you mix it. Only mix what you think you can use in about 10 minutes—otherwise, it will be too hard.

Step #3: Apply the Filler

Now that your filler is mixed, it’s time to use it! Use a spreader to apply a thin, even coat to your dent, crack, or ding. You’ll want to spread the filler out past the edges of the damaged area so you can sand it down later. Push down firmly to fill the area and keep applying coats until it’s completely filled.

Helpful Hints

  • For small imperfections, cut a plastic spreader to match the area of the damage
  • Filler works best for imperfections up to ¼” thick—if the damage is deeper, the filler will shrink over time.

Step #4: Sanding

The filler won’t take long to start curing, so it doesn’t take long to get to the final step. Start your sanding when the filler isn’t quite hardened and still has a rubbery feel to it. Use 36-grit sandpaper or a Surform to get the area to the rough shape you want it, and then wait for the filler to cure completely—about 30 minutes or so.

Once the filler is hard, it’s time to get to the detail work. Use a fine sandpaper to smooth out the area and feather the edges into the surrounding metal. Feel the area for depressions or rough spots until it’s just right.

Helpful Hints

  • The smoother your sanding, the better the finished product will look. The transition from filler to surrounding metal should feel smooth, with no rough edges.
  • If you’ve taped your statue, wait until the filler has dried before taking off the tape

Wrapping Things Up

Using filler is a great way to repair minor dents, dings, and cracks in metal statues. With just a few materials and a few easy steps, you can get your sculptures back to new!

If you have questions about statues or are looking for the next best addition to your collection, give us a call today!

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