Panel Beating Tools and Their Applications


The basic tools for panel beating are various mallets, spoons, blades, and dollies. Read on for a general overview of these tools and their applications

Mallets usually have ash wood handles. Mallet heads are made of a variety of different materials for different applications. Standard mallets have cylindrical heads; a pear-shaped mallet is also called a bossing mallet. Both the standard and bossing mallets are available in rawhide, rubber, and soft metals such as a copper-faced version.

Rubber mallets are available with various-sized screw-on heads. They are great for use on aluminum and sheet metal panels. Thinning metal from the center of a panel is called "hollowing." Using a bossing mallet and a sandbag, beat the metal starting in the center of the piece and work outward in larger and larger circles. Beating with uniform blows will produce a regular shape.

To reshape a flange, using a utility dolly with a size and shape nearest to that of flange, place the dolly in the flange and apply an outward and upward pressure on it. Re-form the flange by "on the dolly" beating. This means starting at the inner edge of the flange, gradually work to the outer edge until you have recovered the flange's original form.

Use spoons for prying and bumping. Also use them in place of dollies when you cannot directly access the rear of the panel due to some obstruction. Choose your spoon depending on the amount of access you have, the metal's original contour, how you will work the metal (leveling or roughing), and the spoon's general length and shape.

Use the general-purpose spoon for applications like reshaping a roof panel. (You may need a backing piece to help prevent damage to the cant rail.) You can use a body spoon to reshape a double-skinned structure like a door panel. The panel must be stripped of interior trim and window glass. Place it downward on the floor on top of two pieces of wood to prevent the panel scraping the floor and to provide room for "spring" or movement, because you will be exerting force on the spoon. After roughing out the shape, reverse the spoon and use "on" or "off" the spoon beating to complete the procedure. You may need a long-reach dolly if direct access is not possible.

Use a heavy-duty pry spoon to separate an outer panel from a frame after they have been squeezed together in an accident. Drive the spoon between the plates and pry up or down or sideways until you have separated the two areas satisfactorily. If desired, you can also use the blade as a dolly to "dress out" the inner structure and the outer panel. The blade is very thin so you can also use it for breaking spot welds or opening door panel flanges.

The high-crown spoon has a broad working surface and a high crown, making it ideal as a spoon or dolly for working in confined areas, including curved surfaces in the roof or hood areas.

Find out more about body tools and their uses on the link called "More Panel Beating Tools and Their Applications."