Auto Painter Invents Linear Blocking Tools While Looking for a Better Paint Job
Written by Ed Attanasio, Autobody News
Published Dec. 20, 2022
Autobody News runs into great stories like this one all the time, in which collision repairers invent things to do a better job.
Colten Davidson, a painter and now the owner of his own restoration shop in Birnamwood, WI, created Linear Blocking Tools, a sanding block system that can create a perfectly flat surface easily and consistently. His system is also designed to alleviate the wear and tear on the human body caused by hours of sanding.
How did you get where you are today?
Right out of high school, I went to tech school for auto body, where I completed a one-year program. And then from there I started working at a Ford dealership doing mostly collision and some light restoration stuff. I worked there for about five years and then I worked for a shop that did both restoration, collision and some dealer work. We did a little bit everything and it was a great learning experience.
Then I had a great opportunity to work for a top shop here in Wisconsin, where I could work on high-end restorations. And that's where I really progressed into knowing what I know now by pushing the envelope. I was the body guy and the painter there and I did probably 90% of the body work and all the painting, and then early last year I started my own shop.
How did you get the idea for Linear Blocking Tools?
One day a few years ago, I was trying to get the clear to be literally like a mirror where there's no ripple, no chop---nothing in it. And we were using a lot of foam blocks and different other types of blocks. Then I came up with a rough draft and made them.
I used them for a while and then I had a couple other people who said they wanted them. Then a distributor in Australia saw these on Facebook, and asked me how much would it cost for 10,000. I couldn’t even make that many, I thought. So, I got the ball rolling a little bit more and have applied for patents, and now we have a manufacturer in Minneapolis that makes them for us.
In September, we moved into a new building that contains two shops---one shop is like the clean shop; we've got the hoist and the paint booth on that side. And then we've got a dirty side that's basically for sanding and welding. We've got everything under one roof. I am running the shop and my wife is running the product side, and it is working well.
I have two people working with me in the shop and my wife Brittany has some part-time help.
Q: You have created a whole universe around your tools, with online courses and an upcoming series of in-person classes. Tell us about those.
A: Yes, on June 22-25, I am hosting a four-day hands-on restoration class with Ryan Evans and world-renowned paint correction specialist Jason Kilmer. It will take attendees through everything from stripping old finishes, metal work, filler work, all the paint and cut/buff. We will be "restoring” a few different front clips from Auto Metal Direct, taking you through all the fine details, like perfecting gaps and panel-to-panel along the way.
Day one will cover stripping old finishes, metal work, perfecting gaps, prepping metal work for panel-to-panel blocking, proper metal prep using the DX metal prep system, applying epoxy to bare steel and types of DTM primers. Day two will cover prepping epoxy for filler work, proper understanding of use and types of body fillers, panel-to-panel blocking, blocking techniques, proper application and types of primers over filler work and priming over filler work. Day three will cover proper blocking techniques of primer, paint prep, masking, painting, laying stripes, spraying candies and custom tri coats. Finally, day four will cover sanding and polishing finishes, curing clear before buffing, sanding techniques, buffing techniques and processes, with Kilmer. These classes will be held at Linear World Headquarters in Birnamwood, WI.
Why are your Linear Blocking Tools so popular with painters worldwide?
One of the major benefits of using them is that they fit your hand really well. More importantly, they are hard but flexible and very flat.
They're made of polycarbonate, which is very flexible and extremely durable. You can drop them or even throw them at the wall and they won't break. There are a few companies out there that make acrylic blocks, and if you drop them, they'll shatter like glass. Our blocks are warrantied for life, much stronger and more flexible.