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Trimming and Fitting

Working with a Trimmer

13th MAY 2020

Reading time: 7 minutes

The combination of our kits in the hands of a skilled, capable and competent trimmer – who is familiar with the marques and models we manufacture for – reaps rewards for the success of an interior trim restoration.

For our customers looking to out-source their trim work to a professional, we highlight some top tips for choosing and working with a trimmer on your restoration.

1. Why do you need a trimmer?

Particularly for novice restorers, the idea of undertaking a trim restoration project can, on the surface, seem fairly straightforward. After spending a large chunk of the restoration budget on crucial engine repairs, bodywork and electrics, there can be the temptation to save money on the seemingly less complicated ‘soft furnishings.’ And after waiting patiently for months whilst the car has been in the bodyshop, who says you can’t quickly lay down the carpets,  throw on the seat covers and get driving?

We often liken it to a house restoration; after ploughing money into architects, structural engineers, builders and all the ‘invisible’ but fundamental parts of a building structure, the decoration – carpets, curtains and cushions – can be left to somewhat of an after-thought and regarded as a quick-fix solution once the contractors are off-site.

But it’s often these things that make the biggest first impression.

By using a professional trimmer, you are ensuring that the interior trim restoration is given as much care and attention as was given to the internal mechanics. Trimming a car requires – above all else – preparation and patience. When you’re frustrated and tired, mistakes are made and these can be costly if your trim kit gets damaged. A professional trimmer will take on a project with realistic time expectations, ensuring that the trim is a worthy match of any mechanical work you will have already invested in.

The thought of the open road might well be enticing – but an extra few weeks wait whilst your car is in the hands of a professional trimmer will be well worth it.

2. Finding the right trimmer

Whilst someone might appear have more knowledge than you in interior trim, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right person for the job.

Here’s some tips to consider when looking for a trimmer:

  • Do your research – enquire at car clubs for recommendations and look at industry magazines for advertisements and mentions in feature articles.
  • Have they worked on your marque and model of car previously? We would always advise to work with trimmers who are familiar with your car and are aware of problematic areas so that they quote reasonably and fairly knowing the work involved. Remember that the level of trimming skill involved between different marques and models of cars can vary significantly.
  • Ask to see photos of their previous restorations, or their portfolio if they have one. Do these photos show trim to the standard you would expect and would want in your car?
  • Meet with them in person at their workshop. Do they present themselves and their workshop in a professional manner? Can you talk with them easily, and would you feel confident to give them constructive feedback if you feel the work has not been finished satisfactorily?
  • Ask for references and testimonials – these will give a good indication of the quality of their work, endorsed by people just like you.


Take time to find a suitable trimmer for your car that will complete the restoration to the standard and finish you want

3. Establish a budget

Be clear with your budget from the get-go. A professional trimmer – who is familiar with working on the marque and model of car you want restoring – should be able to quote a fair and reasonable price from the start as they will be aware of the work involved.

Classic cars are notoriously inconsistent from model to model, and any potential ‘hidden’ problematic areas – which may affect the final price – should be discussed with you prior to the work beginning.

4. Schedule

When it comes to classic car restoration – nothing can be rushed. The best restorations are those that have had the investment of time and patience.

To avoid disappointment, it’s best to plan ahead.

When you’re finding a trimmer, always check their availability. If you’re planning to get a car ready for a show or competition, make sure they can get the job done on time and be prepared to book space in their workshop months in advance.

At the same time, remember to order your restoration trim kit from us at John Skinner’s. Our lead times can be up to 8 weeks depending on production capacity in our workshop at the time of enquiry, so a good time to order from us is when your car is undergoing mechanical and body repair work. With this planning, your restoration trim kit will be ready to handover to your trimmer at the time of your car entering the trim shop.

It is also incredibly important to allow time to consider colour and materials for your restoration. We will not start on the manufacture of any kits until our customer has received samples in hand for final colour confirmation. So really spend some time thinking about the overall look and feel of your restoration and how this will be showcased throughout the interior and make allowances for time to consider your options – remember that these choices might be influenced by the external paint colour of the car. For more useful advice on this, see our Handbook post – Colour Focus: Colour Schemes.


Working with a trimmer
A good trimmer is worth the wait and won’t be rushed. Plan ahead and make sure to book your car into their trim shop in plenty of time for completion for any shows, competitions or events you are planning to take part in.

5. Using a John Skinner kit with your trimmer

Our restoration trim kits are the best on the market. Combined with the skills of a competent the trimmer, the results can be exemplary.

Although we don’t take cars into our workshop, our knowledge of interior trim for the cars we cater for is unparalleled – we really are experts in our field. Our kits are some of the best-fitting on the market – from precision cut CNC blanks to original specification patterning and tooling – we know we supply kits that fit.

All our trim kits come with exceptional after sales service, and we are on hand to discuss any trimming or fitting advice required for any of our parts. We offer this advice to novice and professional trimmers alike, so please ask your trimmer to talk to us directly if they want to discuss any of our parts prior to fitting.

If your trimmer thinks something isn’t quite right with our kit, please ask them to contact us – we often resolve any fitting issues with a simple explanation of where the part is positioned in the car. Pattern re-working and major panel modifications are exceptionally rare with our kits and such changes are often suggested with limited understanding of the car and its history.

We really do know our stuff and are here to help.

Communication is key:

  • We are here to discuss our parts and fitment with your trimmer directly to help avoid any mis-understanding.
  • The knowledge we have of all our parts is exceptional and we have 40 years experience of seeing our parts trimmed to these cars. Trust our knowledge and our expertise – we really do know our stuff.
  • If you are having a fitment issue that your trimmer feel that it can be resolved by cutting into or re-sewing our products please contact us first to discuss the changes planning to be made. Any irreversible changes made to our products will invalidate the 12 month manufacturer’s warranty that comes with all items made in our workshop.
  • For any problematic areas, please send us photos to support your explanation. This will help us understand the area concerned and get the issue resolved as quickly as possible for you.
  • It is in our interests to see all our parts trimmed as beautifully as possible and we’re here to support your trimmer in achieving top quality results for you to enjoy.

We have experienced trimmers contacting us to say our parts don’t fit – such as in a recent case with a Triumph TR4A where the Quarter Panels and Bulkhead supplied were too large for the car. After investigating further, we were able to advise the trimmer that the car had under-gone bodywork modification and had been given a TR4 rear end tub as part of a previous restoration. We were then able to resolve the issue by promptly replacing the affected parts with TR4 style panels which fitted perfectly.

Classic cars are a thing of beauty. Whilst their internal mechanics are a testament to engineering in the golden age of motoring, their interior trim – the result of skilled craftsmanship – is truly something to be celebrated in our world of mechanical mass production. Dedicate to it the time it deserves, enjoy the process and don’t rush it.