Tools don't have...
Tools don't have to be complicated to work well. A simple file set will come in handy for many jobs, such as reaming holes, metal finishing body panels, and detailing your fit and finish. Make sure you choose metal files instead of woodworking tools!
Price range: $5 to $25
Sanding blocks are essential when shaping your bodywork. Different angles, shapes, and sizes can re-form contours, and long, flat blocks can handle long, flat panels, helping get rid of those nasty ripples when you look down the side of your car. Blocking is one of the most important techniques to master, and having the block you need, when you need it, can save you countless hours and frustration.
Price range: $6 to $50
Clamping panels together for...
Clamping panels together for welding, as well as hundreds of other uses (and abuses), makes a diverse set of vise clamps a definite must for your basic tool collection.
Price range: $5 to $30
A D/A (dual action)...
A D/A (dual action) sander can be a real time-saver. It spins as well as orbits, creating a smooth and even cut. When used properly, a D/A sander can be used for topcoats, surfacers, or even stripping paint from panels. It's important to keep the pad as flat as possible on the panels. Avoid digging holes with the edge of the pad. Smooth, even pressure is the key. Electric D/A sanders are available as well, but are not as versatile, especially when wet sanding! DOH!
Price range: $29 to $200
There are countless...
There are countless uses for this tool, including sectioning frames, fabricating, rust repair, and general body repair procedures. It's handy, but potentially dangerous--20,000 rpm can do some damage when a wheel comes apart. Hang your safety glasses and gloves next to this guy.
Price range: $19 to $60
Old school! A crude but effective way to rearrange sheetmetal. Drill your holes in the low spots, thread in the screw tip, and take the dents out! Lots of follow-up work to this, and potential comeback damage on blind panels. Moisture can wick through fillers and contact bare metal to promote rusting.
Price range: $19 to $60
The stud welder...
The stud welder pulls dents without the Swiss cheese effect. It welds pins to the metal, then you use the slide puller to pull the dent out. When you've shaped your metal, just cut off the pins and prep the surface for finishing and priming. This is a much better long-term repair. The stud welder can also be used as a shrinking tool when no pin is used. Great bang-for-the-buck value.
Price range: $215 to $315
Believe it or...
Believe it or not, several all-purpose tools such as a Dremel set can aid you in ways you never thought of. Small cutoff wheels, detail sanders and polishers, plus high-rpm drills all come in handy in those hard-to-reach areas. Great for detailing.
Price range: $29 to $60
If you plan on...
If you plan on doing metal replacement, a MIG (Midi Inert Gas) welder can be a great investment. The cleanest weld will be achieved with a setup that uses an argon/O2 mix to shield the weld from contamination. Flux core welders are effective, but much messier. A MIG welder is not the only way to replace panels and patch metal, so before you spend your cash, look into bonding adhesives as an alternative on smaller repairs.
Price range: $150 to $1,500