What tools do I need for basic dent repair? – Even with the modern advancements in the art of paintless dent removal, you still need the most basic of tools if you want to handle any and every dent repair. The number one and two tools you need are a good body hammer and dolly set. Any of the basic Eastwood kits with several hammers and a dolly are a good start, and the lowest priced way to get started. For fixing dent in blind panels, where you can’t access the back, you will need to weld and pull studs, or drill holes and pull the dent with a slide hammer. If you use studs, then it’s snip them off and grind them flat, for screws you need to weld up the holes first. Either way any minor imperfections left will need to be smoothed with body filler.
Weld studs or drill and screw? – Besides the recently invented, as seen on TV, glue and suction cup methods, they more fool proof dent pulling methods are drilling holes with self-tapping screws, or welding little studs to the surface and pulling them literally. The drill and screw method is much less expensive, as all you need are a drill (which you likely already have), a slide hammer, and a bunch of self-tapping screws. But if you think about the amount of extra labor you use welding the holes shut and applying and finishing body filler the cost of the stud gun seems like a bargain. If you already have a MIG welder Eastwood has a handy kit to allow you to MIG weld studs on for about what you would spend for a 12 pack of beer.
Bulls eye pick or hammer and dolly? – Ideally, you’d use a hammer and dolly to start on most larger dents. If the repair you need to do is minor or you’re doing final metal finishing then a bullseye pick is ideal. These picks are nearly fool proof; it’s just like having a hammer and dolly connected into a pair of tongs so they are always aligned. The picks can even reach behind body braces and fix dents in areas where there is no room to swing a hammer. The body hammer and dolly method however is much better for deep dents and should always be the first tool you reach for when repairing major damage.
How do I decide which method to use to remove a particular dent? – Many time the decision is made for you by the folks who designed the car. Certain dents on certain cars just can’t be reached to work them except from the outside. These dents need to be pulled with weld on studs, or drilled and screwed. Otherwise you just have to use your preferred method, and experience to be your guide. Eastwood has DVDs from pros that can help, if you don’t have any of your own experience to draw from.
Why can’t I just fill dents with body filler? – Body filler has its place, but if you are going to do the job right and have it last for years you want to use as little body filler as possible. Body filler just can’t quite match the flexibility of real metal. Plus body filler can’t expand and contract at the same rate as metal. With time these things can lead to the repairs showing through the paint.