Tech Week 2014: How to make a firewall dish with hand tools Last day, time for the procrastinators to come out of the wood work! Here is a neat trick that I recently used on my 29 Roadster. A couple years ago I bought a Ron Covell / Fournier DVD entitled "Hammer-forming Techniques". That DVD changed my idea about what my metal shaping capabilities were in the garage. I learned you don't need a Yoder or a power hammer just to get started making complex shapes in your garage. You just need some basic hand tools, a welder and the drive to create. Scrounge up the following... 1. A sheet of Hardwood (Birch, MDF, etc...) 2. A jigsaw 3. A plastic faced hammer (or any hammer will do, just use a piece of wood to soften your blows.) 4. Tin ships or a cut off wheel 5. A welder First you need to determine the depth of the dish required. Then make a chipboard template of how you want your recess to be shaped. I chose a "D" shape. Trace the chip board template onto your hard wood. You will need an inner form to shape the "dish" and and outer form to return the shape to the flat face of your firewall. You need to two copies of each shape so you can clamp your flat sheetmetal between them. Bust out that jig saw (or borrow one like I did) and get to cutting! I also borrowed a router to soften the corners. You should end up with something like this... Cut your sheet metal to the shape of the inner form, plus half the depth of the actual dish so you have material to fold over. The picture below illustrates what I'm talking about. (the piece I ended up using was trimmed a couple inches smaller) Clamp the steel between the two identical "inner" forms you cut earlier. It is also a good idea to drill two holes through the entire assembly and bolt them together. These are called "locating pins" and keep your material from pulling out of the form. Start folding the material over with your plastic faced hammer. The plastic face keeps you from scarring the metal. You can also use a regular ball peen, but use a block of wood or aluminum in between. Use even blows, and take your time. You don't want to whack any one area too hard. Your first piece should look like this. You've got the bottom half of your dish now, time to make the top half. Follow the same procedure. Cut the sheet metal to the shape of your form, plus half the depth of your dish. Clamp the sheet metal between your forms, drill holes for your locating pins and bolt them together. Now exercise that forearm and get to swingin. You will learn tons about how metal stretches and shrinks. Take your time, and let the metal guide you. My firewall took me two attempts due to my learning curve. You should get something like this... Unbolt your form and behold the beauty you are creating. This is the fun part where you say to yourself "holy hell, I made that?" Clamp your "inner" and "outer" together and prepare to weld your pieces together. You can use TIG, MIG, O/A, whatever you've got. I prefer TIG or O/A. The weld does't get so hard and you are able to plannish the weld much easier than when you use a MIG gun. Drop the hood and get busy! Lookie there, all welded together... Plannish your weld via hammer and dolly and blend that seem. I like to use a combo of file, 2" roloc disc, DA, Hand Sand and red scotch brite. Viola! Behold your awesomeness! I ended up cutting the dish into the rest of my goofy custom firewall. It may not be perfect, but I made it, I learned a ton in the process and it's one of a kind. Have faith in yourself and try something different. Push yourself to learn every day! Big thanks to Baileigh, EMS, Gear Drive and the HAMB crew!