Tools Needed to Do Body Work

by Lee Sallings

The tools needed for body work are readily available for do-it-yourself body repair. Most of the work can be done with basic hand tools, but there are a few power tools needed as well. An assortment of body hammers, sanding blocks, body putty spreaders and a small slide hammer or stud gun will get you started. A grinder, dual-action sander and paint gun round out the list.

Hand Tools

Body hammers and dollies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Hundreds of dollars can be spent on these parts, but the most useful are the pick hammer and heel dolly. The pick hammer is flat on one side and pointed on the other, allowing it to flatten warps or dents and lower high spots during a project. The heel dolly is rounded on one side and flat on the other, allowing it to be placed on the opposite side of the metal as you tap with the hammer to straighten bent metal. Sanding blocks also come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The blocks should be flexible enough to conform to the contours of the body so waves and low spots are not caused. Three sizes are all you need; they can be purchased as a set at the local paint supply. Body filler spreaders can also be purchased as a set. These should be stiff enough to allow control of filler thickness, but flexible enough to conform to contours. Good spreaders allow a minimal amount of filler to be used, resulting in far less sanding time.

Grinders and Sanders

Grinders and sanders allow the rapid removal of material and shaping of body filler. The electric versions of these tools work fine for home body work and are typically cheaper than the air-powered versions. Grinders remove paint to bare metal quickly and efficiently for feather edging a scratch. This tool is also a must for rust removal and weld smoothing during a patch panel repair. A dual-action sander is used to smooth and finish body filler and primer coats when prepping for paint. This sander moves in a random pattern to prevent deep scratches. When used with progressively finer sand paper, it helps to prep large flat surfaces quickly.

Slide Hammers and Stud Guns

A small slide hammer, also called a dent puller, is used to pull dented metal back into shape. Holes are drilled in the dent, and a screw is fitted to the head of the slide hammer and screwed into the holes. The slide is pulled back to pull the metal back into shape. After the metal is back in roughly the original shape, the holes are welded and ground down smooth. A lot of work can be eliminated by using a stud gun. The stud gun welds a small metal stud to the dented metal, then the slide hammer is attached to the stud to pull the metal back into shape. Then the studs are cut off and ground down. This saves hours of welding and grinding.

Paint Guns

There are two types of paint guns used today. The standard gun uses high pressures to finely atomize the paint as it is sprayed on to the surface. This results in a smooth surface, but a lot of over-spray. Most auto body shops today use the H.V.L.P gun. H.V.L.P means high-volume low-pressure. It works at a lower pressure and applies paint quicker with less over-spray. This gun type is harder to work with since the volume of paint applied tends to run or leave a rough texture until you get used to it. Both types of paint guns are available in gravity feed or siphon styles and are generally available at the local paint supply.


The tools required for good body work do not have to be expensive or difficult to use. Proper use of the basic tools and patience will result in a quality paint job you can be proud of.


About the Author

Lee Sallings is a freelance writer from Fort Worth, Texas. Specializing in website content and design for the automobile enthusiast, he also has many years of experience in the auto repair industry. He has written Web content for eHow, and designed the website. He began his writing career developing and teaching automotive technical training programs.

More Articles