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					                     Basic Sheet Metal
                        Fabrication:
                     Tools you can’t live
                          without!
     From the
   Instructors @
The Hot Rod School
    @ HRI



                          Doug LaRue, HRI founder
                                   Tools you can’t
                                     live without

   There are many different ways to come up
    with the same results in sheet metal
    fabrication.
   My intent is not to tell you what tools you
    need to do sheet metal fab, but to tell you
    what my personal basic needs would be.
   I have been exposed to many really cool
    tools over the years, but these are the bare
    minimum tools I would need to do most
    sheet metal fabrication projects.              Bryan Fuller, Fuller Hot Rods

   I will rate each tool from 1 to 10, with 10
    being the most desirable.
                      Tools you can’t live
                            without
   Let’s start with the very basics (Rated 10)
                      Hammers:
                      A. High/low crown dinging hammer
                      B. High crown cross peen hammer
                      C. Curved chisel hammer
                      D. General purpose pick hammer
                      E. Dinging hammer
                      F. Light pick hammer
                      G. Cross peen hammer
                      H. Door skin hammer
                       Tools you can’t live
                             without
   Dollies (Rated 10) If you have hammers,
    you need dollies;
             TOE DOLLY
                                   WEDGE DOLLY


             HEEL DOLLY
                                    COMMA DOLLY


             GENERAL
                                    LOAF DOLLY
             PURPOSE
             DOLLY
                       Tools you can’t live
                             without
   Post dollies (Rated 6)
     Ideal for planishing panels and sheet metal
      forming.
     Available in assorted shapes from various
      suppliers to suit a large variety of panel
      contours.
                        Tools you can’t live
                             without-
   Mallets (Rated 10)
     Primarily used to stretch
      metal in a sand or lead
      shot bag.
     May be constructed from
      wood, plastic, or leather.
     Will not mar the metal.
     Available in many sizes.
     Cost $20 and up.
                       Tools you can’t live
                            without-
   Sand bag/Shot bag (Rated 10)
     Leather bag filled with your choice of #
      3 sand, # 9 steel or lead shot.
     Used in conjunction with mallets to
      stretch metal and create compound
      curved panels.
     Available in a variety of sizes for
      different size jobs.
     Care must be taken to prevent sharp
      sheet metal edges from cutting the
      leather bag.
     Cost $20 and up.
                                    Tools you can’t live
                                          without
   Planishing hammer (Rated 5)
       Pneumatic hammer designed for
        smoothing lumpy sheet metal and also
        creating crown in panels.
       Available in various throat depths, some
        are mounted to a stand and others are
        portable, allowing them to be used on a
        panel still attached to the vehicle.
       Available with different crowned lower dies
        for achieving various degrees of crown in a
        panel.
       These very in size and cost from $500 -
        $10,000, Rated 5
       Caution: hearing protection must be worn
        because of the extreme noise generated
        by this machine.
                                       Tools you can’t live
                                            without-
   Shrinker/Stretcher: Pneumatic, hand, & kick
    styles (Rated 9)
       Available in various styles, pneumatic, hand, and kick operated.
       Knurled dies clamp together on the metal and stretch the metal
        using the stretcher die; or gather the metal together, shrinking it,
        using the shrinker die.
       Ideal for fabricating curved flanges & channels
        for braces, wheel well openings, etc.
       Capable of shrinking/stretching up to
        18 gauge steel, although it is much
        easier to stretch than it is to shrink.
       Cost $300 & higher.
                                      Tools you can’t live
                                            without
   Sheet Metal Brake (Rated 7)
       Ideal for creating accurate, simple bends in sheet metal.
       Maximum bending thickness is 16 gauge.
       Available in two basic designs: leaf and combination (finger) brake.
            Leaf brake: consists of a single bending beam.
            Combination brake: consists of a series of various size fingers that are
             removable. Ideal for creating the final bend on a box. This is not possible
             on a leaf brake because the previous bend will actually strike the leaf and
             will not bend any further.
       A six or eight foot brake is recommended so larger sheets of metal can
        be bent.
       The leaf can be fitted with radiused dies
        to achieve a radiused bend as opposed
        to the sharp bends created with the leaf alone.
       Care must be taken to prevent nicking or
        chipping of the upper and lower brake edges,
        otherwise these imperfections will be transferred
        directly to the sheet metal.
       Cost range from $500 and up.
                                                  Tools you can’t live
                                                        without
   Bead Roller (Rated 8)
        Uses an upper and lower die through which sheet metal is fed.
         The dies pinch the sheet metal and the metal takes on the shape
         of the die.
        Bead rollers are available in both hand crank operated and
         electric motor driven versions.
        A large variety of dies are available for unlimited shaping
         possibilities. Custom dies can be machined when special shapes
         are required.
        Bead rolls available for rolling beads in flat panels for additional
         strength.
        Step dies available for creating a step or offset in the metal. Ideal
         for overlaying panels evenly for a lap style weld. Can also be
         used to produce many different body lines.
        Body line roll dies are available for reproducing certain body
         lines.
        Radiused roll dies are available for creating a curved edge on
         sheet metal.
        Tank roll radius dies available for creating half radii on sheet
         metal edges. When two half radii are welded together a full 90º
         radius results.
        Three stage hem roll dies available for creating a hem on a
         curved edge.
        Cost $150 and up.
                                  Tools you can’t live
                                       without-
   English Wheel (Rated 7)
       Primarily a stretching machine that creates
        compound curves or crowns in a sheet metal panel.
       Can also be used to smooth up a lumpy panel
        initially formed in the sand bag with a mallet.
       Consists of two wheels between which sheet metal
        is rolled under a controlled amount of pressure.
       The larger, non-adjustable, upper wheel provides a
        flat rolling surface.
       The crowned, interchangeable, lower wheel (the
        roller) determines the shape of the panel.
       A variety of interchangeable rollers come with an
        English wheel. The correct roller will be chosen
        because it has the same crown as the desired panel.
       Cost $750 or more, you will need some training.
                           Tools you can’t live
                                 without
   Throatless Shear (Rated 8)
     Ideal for cutting outside curves and a
      variety of shapes.
     Tight inside curves are more difficult
      to cut.
     A rough cut should always be made
      first followed by a fine cut to achieve
      the most accurate cut.
     Cost about $500 for the original &
      $100 for the cheap knock-off.
                              Tools you can’t
                                live without
   Foot Shear (Rated 7)
     Ideal for cutting large sheets of metal.
     Provides perfectly straight cut edge.
     Perfect cut without any distortion to the
      metal.
     Minimum of 48” shear is recommended
      to allow the cutting of standard width
      sheet metal.
                                  Tools you can’t live
                                        without
   Homemade Saw Horse (Rated 8)
       Ideal for creating simple curves by;
            Hand or by hammering sheet metal
             around the beams.
       Designed with a variety of sized.
          Interchangeable         beams for various
           shaping needs.
          Slotted beam is ideal for;
                fabricating a radius on a panel with a flange on the
                 edge.

       Homemade tool are the best!
             Tools you can’t live without
   TIG Welding (Rated 10)
       TIG Tungsten Inert Gas welding is also referred
        to as heliarc welding or GTAW (Gas Tungsten
        Arc Welding)
            Heliarc originated from using helium as a
             shielding gas.
            Helium is still used today, but it is more
             expensive than other available gases for TIG
             welding.
       TIG welding is a low deposition process.
            Forms a strong weld with a small controlled weld
             bead that is formed by the addition of a fill rod.
       TIG is a very versatile welding technique
            Capable of welding mild steel, stainless steel,
             aluminum and other metals.
            Very commonly used in the specialty car industry
       TIG welding skills will make you very
        employable in the specialty industry.
       Cost $1300 and up.
                         Tools you can’t live
                               without
   Of course, I could go on and on, but I said this would be
    the bare minimum. A good selection of basic body tools
    will of course be needed.
   There are some good web sites out there to get more
    information; try Google.com
     and search for (Metal shapers)
     or (Metalshapers)
     or (Metal Shaping).
   The best tool of all would be
     to get a good education on
     sheet metal fabrication.
   Why not try HRI (The Hot Rod School)

				
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posted:10/3/2011
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