Make Custom Aluminum Inner Fenders from Scratch
SHEET METAL DIY PROJECT
together with JET Tools
Build Time: 60 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
How to pattern, cut, and form a simple shape in order to create new aluminum fender wells for a custom vehicle.
Tools from the Fuller Moto Shop:
- Aluminum Sheets
- Eyewear & Ear Protection
- Measuring Tools
- Hand Shear
- Hole Punch
Use chipboard to make your pattern. Chipboard is easy to cut, punch, bend and scissor. Cardboard is too hard to work with, even poster board is better. In order to get a good representation of the metal, be sure to lay the pattern material in the place comfortably where the metal will eventually be.
2 Roughing & Cutting
Make the parts slightly bigger for extra space as you make the shape. This allows for a final scribe at the end for a perfect fit. Now that the shape is roughed in, some of the pieces need to be final cut to perfection. For precision and accuracy, we are using a JET Vertical Bandsaw and JET Pneumatic Shear to accomplish this, however, if you need an alternative, you can also use hand shears.
Drills really don't work that great on sheet metal with step drills being the exception. These hand punches vary in price but are invaluable. Putting the holes in now provides a reference point every time. Reference holes are essential for quickly and accurately putting the part back into the place to check fitment, scribe lines and make adjustments.
Now that the aluminum is trimmed, the edges might be sharp and wavy. A 5" grinder or hand file is a nice way to chamfer the edges and do some straightening as well.
To make a bit of shape in the panel so its stronger and more aesthetically pleasing, you can use a hammer and dolly or english wheel, however, at The Fuller Moto Shop, we prefer to use a Planishing Hammer. It makes repeated small blows to stretch the material. By stretching the material it makes more of a dome shape, giving the part more dimension.
6 Bead Rolling
Bead rolling can give strength to a panel. Simply put the two dies into place and make some test pieces. Once you like the design, pick somewhere to do it on the panel. In this instance, we used calipers to scribe a light line equidistant from the edge for some style.
7 Rolling An Edge
Just above the suspension arms there is a cut out for the vehicle's suspension to poke through. Roll this inward a bit to give it a finished look. We made a T-Dolly from 3/4" solid steel welded to a shaft that could be put into our Wilton Vice. Then you can simply hammer the edge over preferably with a soft non-marring mallet so you don't stretch the edge or damage the finish.
Now just tidy all of the edges, drill the rest of the mounting holes and finish up to your liking - paint, powder-coat, undercoating or even polish.