5 Easy Ways to Remove Spot Welds

Whats the Best Way to Get Rid of Those Annoying Spot Welds?

While you’re tearing down your project it’s inevitable that you will come across some spot welds that need to be removed.  They can be a pain to remove. especially when you want to save as much of the original metal as possible.  Just like many parts of automotive restoration there is more than one way to do the same task. It all comes down to which method works best for you.  All of these methods accomplish the same goal it all depends on what tools you have and how in depth you want to go.

 

Lets start with the simplest, Spot Weld Cutters, but even these have multiple variations.

Spot weld cutter stockSpot weld Cutter 1

The first and very common is this Spot Weld Cutter. It utilizes a small centering pin which makes contact with the panel first which stops the cutter from wandering. The pin is on a spring so once you put pressure into the panel it will depress and begin to cut through the panel. The cutting wheel is similar to a  hole saw for wood which is slightly larger than the spot weld.  These can be swapped out with different size cutting heads depending on your project.  This type of cutter has an advantage over the rest because once the cutting head bores through the first panel the panels are able to be separated. You will not be left with a hole cut all the way through both panels. Spot Weld Cutters like these range from about $25-$80. This costs more than some other methods, but it is the most professional, accurate method for drilling spot welds.  

 

spot weld drill stockspot weld drill

The next spot weld cutter is slightly cheaper and performs the same basic function.  This Spot Weld Drill essentially a very wide but flat drill bit with a self centering tip so it will not wander. These have an advantage of being made out of one piece of metal so there are no pieces that could break. They do have their drawbacks because each cutter is for a specific size spot weld, unlike the first where the cutting head can be changed out to accommodate various spot weld sizes. At a price point of $30+ dollars they may be more expensive than a standard drill bit, but they are far more accurate and last much longer than a standard drill bit (and won’t drill through both panels as easily).

 

drill spot weld

The next method is by far the most simple and easiest way.  No speciality tools are required all you will need is a drill and a set of drill bits.  This method works very well but it takes a lot more time and it can wear down your drill bits quickly.  Although it’s the easiest, using a drill does have its disadvantages.  First is that it is near impossible to save both panels since you will have to drill completely through both panels.  The problem with this method is that you will not be able to remove a lot of spot welds because even the best drill bits will get dull over time.  One way to reduce the wear on your drill bits is to drill a small pilot hole first and then use a larger bit to remove the spot weld. This method is very time consuming and can be frustrating if your drill bits become dull.

Whenever you are doing any type of drilling whether it is with a specialized spot weld cutter or with a normal drill bit you should always use some type of lubricant or cutting fluid which will help keep the bit cool and increase the longevity of your bits. 

 

Cut off wheel

If you don’t have a drill or drill bits and you still want to remove spot welds there is another method which is more of a last resort. The tools you’ll need for this are a Cut Off Wheel and a Hammer and punch or Air Hammer with chisel attachment. First cut a star shaped pattern directly over top of the weld, you will only need to cut through the top panel.  Then using the punch hit the center of the cut lightly to break the rest of the metal free.  If you are able to get to the under side of the panel this step may become easier withe use of a screw driver to pry the two pieces apart. This method should only be used as a last resort when you don’t care about the top panel.

grinder

The last method is also somewhat of a last resort but in a pinch it will complete the same task.  Using an Angle Grinder remove the metal directly above the spot weld without burning thorough the panel.  Once you have removed the majority of the first layer of metal, use a punch or chisel and hammer to break the rest of the metal free.  If you are unsure of how much metal you have removed, hit the center of the spot weld and the outline of the spot weld will appear.

 

All of these methods will remove spot welds but only the Spot Weld Cutter and Spot Weld Drill will allow you to remove the weld without damaging the other panel. In the long run the higher price will be worth the time they save.

 

Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To’s, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future article or have a project you want explained don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

 

– James R/EW

 

 

14 thoughts on 5 Easy Ways to Remove Spot Welds

  • Hi Steve,

    Epoxy primer over bare metal is our go-to primer for sealing up after repairs. You can then apply filler or high build on top of that.

  • Thanks for the ideas, I have used side grinders mostly, I really like the spot weld cutters. I am going to get a couple right away. I am a novice. I am retired and rebuilding a 1982 Jeep Scrambler thanks.

  • There is a 6th way to remove spot welds that I have used for years with very good success. Use a small solid carbide ball burr chucked in a die grinder. With gloves on, you can easily control the cutting location and depth of cut. It also has the advantage of being able to get into places that a drilling tool is too tall to drill perpendicular to the work, which is a requirement for all drills and spot weld cutting tools.

  • It requires alittle more skill and is easier on older heavier gauge panels but with the correct sharp chissel and a air hammer a can get pretty good results Usually need to go back and grind off any cling on and hammer and dolly joint flat but done correctly you can get nice results

  • We always trust etch primer over all bare metal. True acid etch primer not these etch primers that just “call” themselves etch. True acid etch primers when applied correctly are more difficult to remove than most any other primers.

  • I fully agree with epoxy primer UNLESS you have already used a product with phosphoric acid first ( metal ready or one of the rust converters) that will react but not for a long time! Long enough to have the job finished and then it blisters!

  • before you do anything, clean both mating panels with an 80 grit or coarser disk to insure all the edges are smooth, then apply a coat of weld through primer to both mating panels. after welding and grinding, apply epoxy primer , then follow with your normal method of repair as needed, to achieve the finish you want.

  • Have used hole saw type cutter and use slightly soapy water for lube in a squirt bottle… bubbles keep water on bit…still on 1st cutter head after many, many cut outs. but spring loaded pin has a problem with wandering so use a center punch to make an indentation in center of spot weld for spring pin to register into first…!

  • Don’t forget the easiest way is to simply drill through both panels to remove the welds and then you will also have alignment holes if you need to reassemble those same two panels….

  • hello…i use a step bit for drilling out spot welds…first i make a small pilot hole then use the step bit…works fast and i dont need much pressure.
    An added plus they last quite a while and i dont use high end bits.

  • I am a machinist for forty years. The flat drill you show can be made from an everyday drill bit. Ive done hundreds of them. Grind the drill flat first then grind it flat with the point in the center higher than the outside edges. Make sure that the cutting edges have taper behind them so they can cut. These are excellent for all sheet metal work. They drill a nice round hole in sheet metal. Any size you want.

  • Twenty years ago I had to pull the 350 from my ’88 G30 van. Didn’t want to take it out thru the passenger door so drilled thru the spot welds so I could remove the braces in front of the motor. Once the motor was out, I climbed inside and sanded off the paint/primer around the holes to bare metal. Then I Super Glued nuts over the holes after greasing their threads. Once cured I wetted the nuts and bare metal with Ospho then brushed primed and painted them. Used anti-seize on the bolts during reassembly. Now I’m pulling the motor again for another rebuild and got the front off in no time.

  • My first experience with spot weld cutters is quite interesting. My cousin has been doing auto body for many years and still uses the drill bit method. I myself went to Summit Racing Equipment, here in Tallmadge, Ohio and I bought a $15 spot weld cutter that had a few teeth on one side break with barely drilling 20 welds.
    Days later, I was at my local Harbor Freight store and their spot weld cutters were on sale, I think for around $3 each, so I bought 4 of them. I used the first one I opened, for well over 100 spot welds and it never broke, just dulled. The moral I am sharing is that, cheaper cost isn’t always an inferior product.

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