Tools Needed For Automotive Body Repair

Article by Mark Trotta

Whether you're a classic car hobbyist, or perhaps thinking about getting into auto body as a profession, you need to have the proper tools and equipment. This article covers the most common tools needed for automotive body repair.

tools needed for automotive body repair

Hammer And Dolly

At the core of automotive metalwork is the hammer and dolly, and it's not the same technique as using a hammer to bang in nails! Body hammers are light in weight and have a rounded face. It's all about precision and moderation.

Repair Body Panels and Paint

Shop: Hammer And Dolly Set

The majority of hammer and dolly work is to reverse a dent. To do this, you need to have access to both sides of the panel. The dolly acts as a "backup" for the hammer motion.

There are dozens of sizes and variations of hammers and dollies. Good tools last a lifetime - I've had mine for over 30 years.

Cutting Sheet Metal

Tin snips are the most economical way of cutting sheet metal patches and panels. They are available in straight, left-hand, and right-hand versions.

metal cutting snips

Hand-held nibblers also work well on small panels, but electric shears will save time on large or multiple panels.

tools and equipment needed for automotive body repair

Read: 9 Ways Cut Sheet Metal

Spot Weld Cutter

Cutting spot welds is not a quick or easy job. They should be cut out slowly with a spot weld cutting tool.

spot weld cutter to replace rusty floor pans

Shop: Spot Weld Cutting Tool

Slide Hammer

The many uses for a slide hammer include pulling out dents and repairing body panels. The tool has a long round shaft with a sliding hammer weight, to produce force without actually striking the panel.

tools needed to repair body panels

Shop: GearWrench Slide Hammer Puller Set

GearWrench offers a nice slide hammer kit which includes five different components for different pulling uses. Included is a screw and hook attachment needed for dent pulling, as well as two flange adapters for pulling rear axles. The slide hammer weight is 5-1/2 pounds and the rod is 5/8-18 thread.

tools needed to repair body panels

I originally purchased my slide hammer for body work, but it has seen many other uses, such as removing stubborn bearings and seals.

Dual-Action Sander

The D-A (dual-action) sander is handy for removing paint or sanding down body filler. The dual orbital motion helps prevent scratching. It's primary use is to "feather", or fan out the area around body filler. 150- or 220-grit sandpaper is commonly used.

dual action orbital air sander

Read: Best Air Tools For Automotive Restoration

When using a D-A sander, keep it flat to the surface and don't press down too hard. Let the sander do the work. Don't forget to wear a respirator.

Sanding Boards And Blocks

When a DA sander is too large or will be too aggressive for the repair area, a Bodyman reaches for a proper-sized sanding board. For tight and curvy places, there are sanding blocks.

best hand tools for automotive

Dura-Block sanding blocks come in several sizes and shapes for various sanding needs. There is flex in the longer blocks that allow working with different contours. These sanding blocks work best with 2-3/4" 3M "Stikit" rolls.

best sanding blocks for automotive

Shop: Dura-Block Sanding Blocks

To properly sand different shapes and contours of body panels, keep an assortment of sanding blocks. They can be used for both wet and dry sanding.

Angle Grinder and Attachments

Although mainly used for body work (like grinding down welds), 4-1/2" angle grinders have many other automotive uses. With a cut-off wheel attachment, they can cut off rusted muffler brackets or shorten bolts.

angle grinder with flap disc

Read: Best Angle Grinder For Automotive

Read: Angle Grinder Attachments For Automotive Repair

Work Mat

There is enough padding in this kneeling pad to cushion a 200+ pound size person. I also use it as a butt pad.

best kneeling pad for automotive work

Shop: Mechanics Kneeling Pad

HVLP Paint Systems

If you've never painted a car before, an HVLP turbine system is ideal for first-timers. You'll actually have an advantage; they'll be no relearning curve from a conventional spray system.

Repair Automotive Body Panels and Paint

Read: Best HVLP Paint System For Automotive

Electric Buffer/Polisher

An electric buffer polisher allows you to buff out swirl marks and spider webs in automotive paint, as well as polish and apply wax.

tools needed to paint a car

Shop: Power Buffer Polisher

The Avid AEP127 is a six-inch dual-action (random orbital) car buffer polisher/waxer. It features variable speed and comes with foam pads for car polishing and waxing. The pads are held in place by the hook and loop system (similar to Velcro) which are easy to put on and take off.


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