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Tech Week 2014: How to make a firewall dish with hand tools

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Cali4niaCruiser, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 491

    Cali4niaCruiser
    Member

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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...

    [​IMG]


    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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...

    [​IMG]

    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?"

    [​IMG]

    Clamp your "inner" and "outer" together and prepare to weld your pieces together.

    [​IMG]

    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!

    [​IMG]

    Lookie there, all welded together...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    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!

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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!
     
  2. Kevinsrodshop
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 590

    Kevinsrodshop
    Member

  3. brady1929
    Joined: Sep 30, 2006
    Posts: 8,599

    brady1929
    Member


  4. I like this kind of tech. Its more usable to ALL of us. The dual flathead plugs is cool as hell, but honestly how many of us will ever do it, compared to how many of us can use this? Kudos.
     
  5. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 491

    Cali4niaCruiser
    Member

    Thanks dudes, I'm glad you guys like it!
     
  6. von Dyck
    Joined: Apr 12, 2007
    Posts: 678

    von Dyck
    Member

    Another tid bit: you can shape a discarded (broken) soft ball bat into a beer-bottle shaped hammer to get those upper corner radiuses to planish out nicely.
    Good to see these learning curves developing. Being afraid to fail, and transforming good sheet metal into scrap (called tuition) has prevented many from even trying!
     
  7. luckythirteenagogo
    Joined: Dec 28, 2012
    Posts: 1,265

    luckythirteenagogo
    Member

    Great job, and thanks for sharing. This has got me thinking about what I can do on my current build. Thanks again.
     
  8. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 491

    Cali4niaCruiser
    Member

    Good tip von Dyck. I've got a drawer full of random materials and found objects to shape metal with. I just picked up a tree stump too.
     
  9. moparmuscle1
    Joined: Nov 15, 2012
    Posts: 85

    moparmuscle1
    Member

    Really good tech , this is one of the main things Im on this site for . Great people , great tech and great rides
     
  10. chevy3755
    Joined: Feb 6, 2006
    Posts: 1,044

    chevy3755
    Member

    I like the NON machine work attitude
     
  11. BAILEIGH INC
    Joined: Aug 8, 2008
    Posts: 3,623

    BAILEIGH INC
    Alliance Vendor

  12. Now THAT, was very useful! Awesome job. Thank you for sharing.
     
  13. bscc50
    Joined: Nov 17, 2013
    Posts: 100

    bscc50
    Member
    from n.e.

  14. Noland
    Joined: Oct 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,237

    Noland
    Member

    well done, I like the way it looks.
     
  15. KrisKustomPaint
    Joined: Apr 20, 2007
    Posts: 1,107

    KrisKustomPaint
    Member

  16. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 491

    Cali4niaCruiser
    Member


    Thanks a ton guys. I'm glad I can contribute to a place I learn so much from.
     
  17. chaos10meter
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 2,191

    chaos10meter
    Member
    from PA.

    In the shop we made a deep one out of a wheel barrow cut up for one dude and another one, not so deep out of a big baking sheet pan from WalMart.
     
  18. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 491

    Cali4niaCruiser
    Member

    You gotta use what you've got. Good thinkin.



    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
     
  19. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,721

    Malcolm
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Nebraska

    Great work, Jordan! Your roadster is coming together nicely, too.


    Malcolm
     
  20. C-cab dreamer
    Joined: Nov 29, 2010
    Posts: 26

    C-cab dreamer
    Member

    That's really interesting...and thank you.

    I think I need to alter the firewall on my '35, and this might just be the way to go about it. Thanks again. :)
     
  21. ...or....for those fab challenged, you can cut up a lil red wagon...
    very nice work on yours.
     
  22. hellenthal
    Joined: Apr 16, 2012
    Posts: 29

    hellenthal
    Member
    from Cincinnati

    Your tech is very inspiring. I am in the process of doing my first build and really appreciate well written articles like this. Thanks!
     
  23. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 491

    Cali4niaCruiser
    Member

    I'm glad you guys find it useful. Give it a shot! You might surprise yourself :)
     
  24. jerseymike
    Joined: Sep 25, 2008
    Posts: 680

    jerseymike
    Member

    always like to see projects done with basic tools, great job!
     
  25. PINEAPPLE
    Joined: Aug 26, 2012
    Posts: 287

    PINEAPPLE
    Member

    Nicely done! Great thread! Thanks!
     
  26. Well done....Hard to belive what a guy can do with some metal a plan and a hammer.
     
  27. jerseymike
    Joined: Sep 25, 2008
    Posts: 680

    jerseymike
    Member

    good luck in the contest. unfortunatly threads like this usually lose to a pro builder or someone with a full machine shop. makes no sense since anyone could learn to do this but not everyone has access to a fully stocked shop. again, great work!
     
  28. Jbuhl1954
    Joined: May 19, 2013
    Posts: 129

    Jbuhl1954
    Member

    Awesome tech tip!! I will definitely try this!! Thank you!!


    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
     
  29. A year ago I found the need to make some window openings for a project. I tried this process, and folks, it is really empowering to see this work right in front of you, it really does work! I had to make multiple identical parts so I chose to use aluminum for the form and also used a router to round the corners.
    [​IMG]

    I cut reliefs in the corners as I did the forming, then made little patches (using the hammer form) that were easy to weld into the corners
     

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