Painting VHT wrinkle finish paint.

September 27th, 2015

This is a follow on from my Turing-Welchman Bombe project and shows how I painted the case panels in wrinkle finish paint. But this paint used in many other places, such as old car instrument panels, so I thought a film of how I do it would be useful.

I am tempted to turn off comments on that as I just know someone will say I am doing it all wrong (with no proof of their better way of course) but that is what works for me.

I am using VHT wrinkle finish paint as that’s the sort I can easily get here in NZ (Repco sells it). I get all the gas from the can then decant the paint out. It is very thin so can be sprayed as it from the gun, no thinning required.


The biggest problem I find is getting an even enough coat of paint. You need about 3 or 4 coats to get a nice, heavy build up but the real trick is getting it even. That is why I put the paint into a proper spray gun since I find it much easier to get a good coating using the gun rather than using the spray cans themselves. In the film I was having a little trouble with the gun (not enough paint in the pot) but even then I managed to get a good coverage. And yes, I nearly dropped it at one point!

You must avoid paint runs! Any runs in the paint will show up as a different, thicker wrinkle in the finished part. You can control the amount of wrinkle by how thick the coat is to some degree. I prefer a lesser wrinkle myself but that’s personal preference. Too thick and I find it look a bit overdone.

To make the paint wrinkle I use a hot air gun. I have a cheap 2000W one from Bunnings (I think I said NZ$30 but it looks like it is $40). I set it on the hottest setting. You just need to keep it moving to avoid burning the paint. Something that also works well is heating the back of a steel panel with wrinkle paint on the front. The other option is to put the piece out in the hot sun. That will work but I find it only works well if the whole piece is evenly illuminated. I get much better control with the air gun.

The paint then needs to be cured. If the piece is small enough I put it in my normal oven. There are some fumes released but I don’t find it too bad. I usually put them in with the oven set to 100C on Bake for an hour. On the can they say 93C for 1 hour but I know my oven temperature control is no where near that accurate the exact setting isn’t too important. Around 100C works.  Then I turn it off and let it cool slowly. If you are doing car engine parts, such as rocker covers, the heat of the engine should be enough to cure the paint. I would still bake those in the oven though as until the paint is baked it will be soft and if you attach the part with the paint uncured your fasteners are likely to ruin the finish.

If I can’t bake it because it is too big to fit in the oven, say a car instrument panel, then I leave them in the sun or a hot place (my metal garage works well in summer) for a week or so to let the paint cure.

I do find even with practice this is a hard thing to get absolutely perfect every time.


Here are a few other projects I have used this paint on:


Enigma Machine Watch


Orwell 6502 Computer


Austin 7 instrument panel.

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