OK, more than a little skill is required, but these are skills you, the guy (or chick) reading this, can pick up if you practice. Working with metal is a skill that is quickly disappearing in our disposable society, yet it is an extremely valuable skill to have. There are still many circumstances in which it is much more cost effective to repair and metal-finish a part than it would be to replace it. We recently spent a blisteringly hot week in Lake Havasu, Arizona, watching the guys at Recon Classic Car Bodies transform our pretty-cool '67 Mustang coupe into a righteous '67 fastback. Formally known as Drake Customs, Recon's specialty is building Mustang conversion body shells. Translation: The company buys junked coupes and transforms them into reconditioned fastbacks or convertible shells ready for you to outfit with a drivetrain and interior. The guys were gracious enough to work their magic on our forlorn coupe (last seen in the Apr. '08 issue) in less than a week's time. As if that weren't enough of a challenge, they simultaneously worked over a hashed '65 coupe, turning it into a convertible. They did both cars in an amazing six days. We're going to show the job the crew at Recon did in a series of articles starting now. This will be a brief on the basics you'll need to know before tearing into a car on your own. Even if you never plan on doing your own fastback conversion, there is plenty of information here that will apply to any major autobody job you would attempt. So lace up your steel-toed boots-the sparks are about to fly. Tools Used (Listed According To The Funness Factor) Cutting Torch Pros: The most fun you can have doing bodywork with your clothes on (autobody work-get your mind out of the gutter), the acetylene torch melts steel, shoots sparks, and sounds cool when you blast through a bulkhead. Nothing stands in the way of a 6,300-degree flame Cons: Don't get burned. Cutting Torch Pros: The most fun you can have doing bodywork with your clothes on (aut Air Hammer Pros: Rips through sheetmetal like an electric can opener through your girlfriend's cat's Fancy Feast lid. Cons: Leaves a jagged edge that needs finishing. The deafening jackhammer roar is super annoying in close quarters. Wear earplugs. Air Hammer Pros: Rips through sheetmetal like an electric can opener through your girl Sawzall Pros: A very close third to the air hammer, the Sawzall dispatches sheetmetal with the same aplomb but leaves a much cleaner, sharper edge. It's heavy, too. Use it enough and you will have forearms like Popeye. Cons: Long and bulky, it cannot fit into tight quarters. You'll still need an air hammer. Sawzall Pros: A very close third to the air hammer, the Sawzall dispatches sheetmetal Other Essential Tools Grinders You'll need both electric and pneumatic versions-air grinders are smaller and fit in tighter spaces. Grinders are versatile tools you can use to cut, smooth, and shape metal. They make quick work of weld spatter and spot-weld residue. Grinders You'll need both electric and pneumatic versions-air grinders are smaller and fi Drill with Sharp Bits You'll need a drill to cut through the factory spot welds. Electric or pneumatic are equally good, but like grinders, air drills are smaller and more versatile. Cordless drills are good for screwing together new sheetmetal. Get a Drill Doctor while you're at it. You'll need it to keep your bits sharp. Drill with Sharp Bits You'll need a drill to cut through the factory spot welds. Electric Scrapers/Razor Blades Good for ripping up carpet, upholstery, seam sealer, undercoating, window trim, glass adhesive, and a million other things. Buy a lot in a variety of sizes. Scrapers/Razor Blades Good for ripping up carpet, upholstery, seam sealer, undercoating, Clamps, Hammers, And Stuff In addition to the above, you'll need an assortment of hammers (sledge, dead-blow, and body), dollies, sanding blocks, and the usual brace of handtools. Impact wrenches and air ratchets will help speed up your work if you are on the clock. You'll also need a welder. If you're hard-core, you'll learn to weld with your acetylene torch. Otherwise, an inexpensive, consumer-level MIG welder will work 99 percent of the time. Get your hands on all this stuff and there won't be an autobody job in the world you can't conquer. Clamps, Hammers, And Stuff In addition to the above, you'll need an assortment of hammers 1 | 2 | 3 | » | View Full Article By John McGann Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!