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96 XJ here and I'm rebuilding what was once a huge hole in one of my rocker panels. I've riveted in 1/8" diamond plate aluminum for the backer support and now I've got 2 good coats of bondo on there. I'll end up going over the 1/4" thickness limit for bondo, oh well.

So my question is...how do I go from where I am now on the left side of the pic to building and smoothing this out so that it's paint ready and in the shape of the rocker panel on the left.

I've got a can of color matched red and high build primer on the way.

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sand sand sand. gets some 40 grit and an orbital sander and go to town. 40 is very aggressive and will get the roughest out. go to 80 and smooth a little more. If you have a bunch of valleys, reapply the bondo and repeat the sanding. I don't think you are going for a Boyd Coddington original, so sand smooth with 120 then 400 grit. If your gonna coat it with monstaliner (which I recommend) 120 grit will give a proper surface for the Monstaliner to bond to. and since it goes on so thick, you'll never see the sanding marks, and you can top coat it with your color to match the rest of the body.
 
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