Tag Archives: panel beating

  • How to make a Body Panel From Scratch- Rear Quarter Panel Fabrication

    If you want to get better at anything you need to practice and push yourself to try things a little out of your skill/comfort level. Metal Shaping is 100% one of those things that you need to practice and work to get better at, even if it means wrecking a piece of metal or wasting hours of work. It's extremely frustrating, but each time you learn something new or what doesn't work and you can learn to correct it. Recently Mark R. and I decided to make a rear quarter panel from scratch. I've watched some videos and seen pictures of "panel beaters" rough forming a rear quarter panel in a really short period of time and it crazy the transformation the panel takes as they beat it with hammers slowly smooth it back into shape! So we decided to make up a rear quarter panel similar in shape to that of many cars from the 60's-70's.

    Photo Jan 29, 10 16 09 AM

    We started with a pattern of the outside perimeter of the panel cut to shape. The first step was to shape the fender flare detail around the wheel opening. Mark drew out the area in which the flare metal needed to be stretched in. He then proceeded to use a teardrop mallet on the panel beater bag to pound out the rough shape of the fender flare. He tried to keep his hits all close together so the area was stretched evenly.

    Photo Jan 29, 10 15 57 AM

    Photo Jan 29, 10 23 28 AM

    As you can see above, the area that was hit with the hammer was pretty sad looking, with lumps and waves all around the edge of the panel. We then put it into the english wheel with very little pressure on the wheels as we rolled the panel around the lumpy, stretched area Mark hit with the hammer. After a few passes the exteme high spots and lumpy areas slowly began to flatten out and the shape of the fender flare became more obvious.

    Photo Jan 29, 10 21 50 AM

    Photo Jan 29, 10 22 04 AM

    Photo Jan 29, 10 21 25 AM

    As you can see in the last picture above, the lumpy hammer marks were mostly smoothed out but there were some wavy areas of excess metal on the edges that needed to be smoothed out. These areas needed shrinking to tighten up the metal before we could move forward. We used the HD Shrinker Stretcher to tighten up the metal by doing small, light shrinks. Too heavy of a hand when shrinking could actually cause more damage than help, so we took a few light passes instead of doing a single heavy pass.

    Photo Jan 29, 10 42 56 AM

    Photo Jan 29, 10 43 00 AM

    Once we were happy with how smooth the fender flare area was we decided to lock the shape in and give the panel a little rigidity by creating the bent fender lip. We started by using a tipping die and soft bottom wheel in the bead roller to slowly tip the edge over while we followed the radius of the wheel opening. This took a few passes to get it to about 70 degrees. Mark then used a Fairmount Hammer and Dolly to tip the edge to 90 degrees.

    Photo Jan 29, 11 02 43 AM

    Photo Jan 29, 11 39 55 AM

    With the fender flare becoming fairly smooth and the lip now formed, we needed to move on to getting the flare detail fully stretched away from the panel to where we wanted it. We achieved this by flipping the panel over and rolling the panel in the english wheel around the wheel opening just above the fender flare. This moved the metal the opposite way around the flare to make it more pronounced from the fender. You can see in the photos we're using a prototype rubber sleeve over the top wheel to control the amount of stretch we're getting and for a smooth linear stretch in only the direction we want.

    Photo Jan 29, 1 04 18 PM

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    At this point the fender flare portion was about 80% done and needed just some fine tuning and smoothing to get it perfect. We decided to move on to putting the overall shape into the panel. No automotive fender is 100% flat and our practice piece wasn't going to be either! We started by rolling with medium pressure in the english wheel across the top of the panel until we got down to the fender flare. We then worked the sides before and aft of the flare with the wheel in the same direction. Once we got close to the bottom quarter of the rear of the quarter we changed the direction of the wheel to give it some "pinch" in and down to meet up with the rear pan of the car.

    Photo Jan 29, 1 10 38 PM

    Photo Jan 29, 1 15 18 PM

    Finally Mark tipped the edges on the ends of the panel and cut out the marker light opening. He then finished by smoothing and tuning the shape up with the english wheel and hammer and dollies. With the shape all locked in Mark took some time with a DA sander and some 220 grit paper to take out the shrinker and hammer marks to give us a panel that was ready to install!

    Photo Jan 29, 1 27 51 PM

    Photo Jan 29, 1 27 59 PM

    The tools used for this type of project won't cost you another mortgage on your house and can be fit even in a small shop, it's all in the time to learn how to use them correctly. We didn't have a particular fender in mind when making this, but this shape and process would lend itself to MANY cars through the 60's-90's.


    Photo Jan 30, 10 10 50 AM

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  • Detroit Autorama- Highlights, Trends, and our Favorite Rides!

    ....."but there's one other show that matches the abundance of high end classic cars and that's the Detroit Autorama show and their "Ridler Award". The "Motor City" has, and always will be synonymous with cars. While the car manufacturers may have left, this show has not and continues to grow in size."  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Custom Hood Modifications- Converting a Multi-Piece Hood to One Piece

    One thing that I’ve planned to customize on Project Pile House from day one was the hood. The hood on the truck is a “butterfly” (as I call it) style hood and was a design that Dodge rolled over from 30’s and 40’s trucks. I have taken a 50’s custom type approach to this truck and that style hood wasn’t going to flow. I decided to disassemble the hood and convert it to a one-piece hood.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Sheet Metal Fabrication: Basic Machines & Techniques

    Sheet metal fabrication is the act of forming, shaping, and joining metal together to build and or repair a tangible part. There are many techniques and tools. It’s been done since the beginning of time when even the simplest tools were used. In this article we will share the most common and important tools, machines, and techniques for the DIY fabricator.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Eastwood Metal Working Tip- Forming Metal with Items You Have Around the House

    Metal working is definitely an art that takes a lot of practice to master. In the grand scheme of things I am definitely wet behind the ears when it comes to metal working. It seems each time I tackle a new project, I learn a little more. A common misconception when someone thinks about metal working is that you need a huge shop full of industrial sized machines to successfully shape and form metal. It's easy to see why people come to this conclusion; watch just about any Hot Rod, Chopper, or custom car TV show, and you see them using all of these giant industrial sized machines that cost a fortune. Those tools are great,and amazing to use if you have access to them. But you can build a lot in a home shop with an arsenal of a few essential tools. Some of these you can even make yourself!

    Bending radiuses in metal is one of the more difficult tasks you may come across when honing your metal working skills. This is something that was often a mystery to me, and a task I thought required an english wheel. Once I started doing some poking around on a few popular metal working forums, I noticed that many of the seasoned veterans were using homemade tools to form curves and even recreate original embossed shapes in panels. They are using everything from logs and tree trunks to metal pipes and pieces of scrap metal to build some pretty beautiful things.

    This got me thinking, with a few simple Eastwood tools, and a couple of items you could find laying around your home, you could really build some neat stuff! I decided to show how we recreated the curve in the driver's door of Project Pile House using a stainless pipe, a vice, and a couple of our Metal Forming Mallets.

    The picture below shows the condition of the door when we started. Not only was it rotted out, it also had a bad dent repair done many years ago. Because of this we decided to replace the door skin just above the damage.


    Once we cut off the outer door skin I took the picture below to show the slight radius the panel had to it originally. This is what we wanted to recreate.

    After putting a flange on the new door skin, we cut a slit in the top of the flange to allow us to form the radius in the panel we need to recreate. We grabbed a piece of stainless pipe we had that is about 3", and clamped it in the vice. We then took out our Metal Forming Mallet Set and began slowly beating the edge of the panel over the pipe to get a radius started.

    After some hammering and test fitting, we finally got the radius very close. We then used the backing strips in our Panel Install Kit to to get the new skin attached.

    Once that piece was tack welded into place, we test fit and continue welding like we've already shown you in previous tech entries (you're on the home stretch!).

    Once you get over the idea that you always need to use special tools to form metal, you will find yourself looking at things differently when working in the garage. I know I've got the word out to some neighbors about getting one of those big old stumps they have laying around. I plan on making it into a metal working "station"! Give us a shout if you have a cool idea for a metal working tool, we'd love to hear your ideas!

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