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An impressive assortment of quality tools has been the difference between getting a good job and not getting a job with many a mechanic. And keeping a "toter" of tools in good order has helped many a man hold a job. Tool kits generally just grow. They are practically never purchased as complete outfits. But styles in cars and tools change and you can't do "V-8 service" with "model T" tools.

Fortunately in body and fender work it is possible to acquire a complete and valuable set of tools as the need for certain tools is felt or the ability to use them develops. Anywhere from approximately $20 to $80 or so will fix a man up with a very effective set of sheet metal tools. But of course the man who really loves his work, and who as a consequence is "going places" in his job, will always be on the lookout for new tools or better tools so that he may do a better job or do the same job faster and so make more money.

Sheet metal working tools

As a means of selecting the needed tools with a definite knowledge of what they can do and what they cannot do the following has been compiled.


Care should be exercised to select a good quality, well-balanced hammer of the proper weight and design for the work for which it is intended to be used. A hammer used for dinging, weighing about 9 or 10 ounces is the most popular. For bumping purposes, hammers ranging from 14 ounces to about 2 pounds are used, depending upon their design and extent of the damage to be repaired. Figure below illustrates a bumping hammer and a dinging hammer.

Bumping hammer
Bumping hammer. Note the heavy construction. Bumping hammer. Note lighter construction.

Note the heavier construction of the bumping or roughing hammer. It is used for heavier and rougher work, whereas the dinging hammer is used with lighter blows for finishing work, as its weight is much less than that of the former. Also note the difference in the faces of each hammer. The faces of the roughing hammer are considerably more crowned than those of the dinging hammer for the reason that the former is usually used on the inside or underside of crowned surfaces, whereas the dinging hammer is used on the outside or top of these surfaces. This is shown somewhat exaggerated below.

Roughing hammer
The flat side of any, hammer is always used on the convex surfaces.
The flat surface of a hammer used on the concaved surfaces would do damage as indicated at X.

Obviously a flat-faced hammer used on the underside of the crown in figure right side would nick the top surface at points marked X. Likewise, a round-faced hammer used on the top surface would dent it. Referring again to top pictures, note that both the bumping and dinging hammers have round and square faces on opposite ends. This is to accommodate different shapes of work, the square face being used along straight lines and the round one in round corners and radii. All of these hammers are made in different weights for different purposes.

Long headed hammer Half hammer
Long headed hammer for working into deep-crowned fenders. Half hammer for use where little space is available for swinging the hammer.

Dividing further the types of hammers, left, illustrates a long-headed hammer for working into deep-crowned fenders, or over woodwork or braces. Right shows a half hammer which is used in places where only a short swing is possible. Figure below shows what is known as a fender bumper, used in bumping or roughing out fender dents. It clears the tire in most cases, saving time of removing the wheel. It is also used on bodies.

Hammer for fender bumper
Fender bumper for working on the deep fenders of todays' cars.

All of these hammers are important and each serves a definite purpose. A mechanic who knows his tools and uses a light tool for light work, a heavy tool for heavy work, and a special tool for special work will accomplish his work in less time and with less effort than one who uses any tool that may be near at hand.

Polishing hammer and dolly faces

When hammers or dolly blocks become scratched, the scratches must be removed to prevent damaging the finish when dinging painted or lacquered surfaces. These scratches and burrs should be rubbed out on a fine oil stone, and then the faces polished. The polishing procedure which follows is recommended because of its excellent results :

Secure a piece of 7/8-inch poplar about 4 X 10 inches smooth on one side. On this board prepare a polishing abrasive composed of hydrated lime and denatured alcohol. The lime is moistened with the alcohol to form a paste. The hammer or dolly faces rubbed on this board will be highly polished to equal their original condition. Fine emery or other abrasives are too coarse for this kind of work. Care must be exercised to preserve the original roundness of the faces.

Dolly blocks

A dolly block is really a hand anvil, having various shapes for different curved surfaces. A wide variety of these shapes is necessary to do complete work. Obviously one dolly block cannot carry more than a few contours, so that to incorporate all of the many shapes encountered, a full variety of blocks is required (Fig. 29). Dolly block surfaces, like hammer faces, must be kept free from nicks and scratches and be polished to avoid marring the sheet metal.

Dinging a flange
Dinging flat surface
Dinging convex surface
Dinging a flange
Dinging flat surface
Dinging convex surface
Dinging crowded surface
Dinging body corner
Dinging offset
Dinging crowded surface
Dinging body corner
Dinging offset


The addition to the shop of tools known as spoons, and serving a purpose similar to dollies, makes possible the making of more repairs by bumping and dinging. A spoon permits dinging on dents which are inaccessible for a dolly block, such as between wood frame-work and body metal, behind upholstery, under windows, under fender brackets, etc. The spoons are provided with longer reach, as well as with various contours. Figure below shows an assortment of the various types of spoons in general use.

Car spoons
Spoons, like dolly blocks, are a kind of hand anvil