to modify or restore your car, for beginners
- Your Workspace
Once you have picked your project
you need a workspace. Let's assume you have a small
garage in which you can fit a medium sized car and
have enough room to work comfortably all the way
around. Here are some tips I found useful and so
Work as tidy as you can - I cannot work 'tidy'
therefore I work as tidy as I can. I don't have
a place for everything in the garage, just an area
or rough grouping of tools. All sharp and cutting
tools go together. All bolt and screw removing tools,
sockets, screwdrivers, spanners, vice grips go together.
All body shaping tools and materials go together.
All power tools together etc. Once in a while I
have a good tidy but that's about it, not ideal
Have a solid bench
- One extremely valuable asset to any workshop is
a solid bench. It doesn't have to be expensive or
fancy just a good solid heavy working space, even
some breeze blocks stacked safely with a heavy wood
board laid on the top will work. If you're really
on one hell of a tight budget..
Several rubbish bins
- I found one rubbish bin was inadequate (for me),
I didn't like having to walk all the way around
the garage to put something in the bin so I would
leave stuff on the floor. Having 2 or 3 bins dotted
around made things easier. It's laziness but it
lighting - Good lighting from
multiple sources is extremely helpful and cheap.
I used the lights already fitted in the garage in
conjunction with 3 work lights on reels, one on
each wall (excluding the door). That way if I needed
extra light I could just grab the nearest work light
off its hook and bring it closer.
Flooring - An old carpet
or mats laid under you project will help soak up
any spills or collect rust deposits as you work,
you can then slide the carpet out and empty it into
the bin. A thicker fluffy carpet also acts as padding
to lie on for low down work (as opposed to an expensive
Notebook and Reminders -
A ready notebook, small chalkboard or whiteboard
is handy to write down jobs to do or parts to pick
up from town. Often when in the middle of one job
you may notice or remember another job that needs
doing, but because you are so engrossed in the matter
at hand you forget what you were going to do next.
Strange but true.
Having multiple photographs of restored or new cars
identical to the one you are working on acts as
a ready frame of reference if you need clarification
on any aspect of you project. As well as providing
inspiration at a glance.
These are some bodywork tools and materials you
will need and also some that are very handy.
Of course everyone has their own budget to stick
to, but with tools almost always the more money
you spend the better the result. For a more comprehensive
list of tools you might need, check out this handy
glossary covering a wide variety of automotive
- A range of bodywork hammers, a heavy mallet and
a rubber mallet
can be invaluable when restoring cars. Metal beating
is an artform no one will pick up in a day, I myself
am still learning from my mistakes. But to gently
tap out a 'door ding' is relatively simple even
for an amateur, more on that later. Hammers can
be used to tap a chisel or screwdriver through rust
or corroded rubber seals. While a rubber
mallet can help to 'shock' a stubborn bolt.
small medium and large are absolutely essential.
Quality really counts here. Cheap sockets
like you generally get in 'emergency tool kit' packs
break and round out surprisingly easy, not to say
they are worthless, but if you are working on an
older car with rusted and seized bolts some high
quality sockets in the more common sizes make life
Philips head and straight edge screwdrivers are
essential, but torx
head are also very, very useful too. Sort of
a no-brainer but a wide variety of screwdrivers
make any project easier. The better screwdrivers
have hardened metal tips which are more resistant
to warping and bending under extreme use.
bars and adapters, links, extensions for
socket set. When working on cars you will find many
of the bolts are squirreled away beyond the reach
of any straight bar. To combat this, universal links,
adapters and extensions
bars can be used in a variety of configurations
to reach most bolts. Breaker
bars make removing rusted or seized bolts a
boards and backing pads
essential if you want any filler work to be straight.
Sanding boards come in many different shapes and
sizes. The two most useful types are the long
two-handed boards and the smaller rectangular
foam or rubber sanding pads.
knife, scalpel and hacksaw,
great for cutting away rusted metal and rotted/worn
Good quality scissors and
metal snips, cutting metal and material
can be handy, especially for removing dangerous
metal burrs and removing rust.
rasps and graters are great
for rough shaping fiberglass and bodyfiller prior
to sanding. They don't provide a smooth finnish
at all, however they do cut down on work time
Sand paper - various
grades (more on this later in the series)
- all different widths if possible (but not essential).
Used for masking areas you want to protect temporarily,
whether it be from paint overspray, sand scratches
Rags - And more rags,
use old clothes as a substitute. When I am working
I have 3 steps of rag: Clean - All these rags
are new or washed, mostly used for dust and light
cleaning (but not polishing paintwork etc.), or
cleaning fragile parts.
Medium - These rags were once in the clean box.
These rags are used for dirtier jobs, grease,
mud and engine bays etc.
Filth - These rags have gone through all the steps
and will soon be thrown away. Filth rags are used
for oil spills and other messy 'jobs'. Thrown
away after using.
This is just my way of doing things, but it does
seem to work reasonably well.
Digital camera -
Very handy for taking snaps before (and during)
tearing into something. They can be extremely
useful in reminding you how it went back together.
The pictures also provide great before and after
documentation of your project.