How to form a custom airbag tub with Eastwood Tools

Recently our friend Sean at Empire Fabrication sent us some pictures of a custom airbag tub for a bagged VW Eurovan he’s building for a customer and we had to share. Follow along as he shares the Eastwood tools and process he used to build the custom bag tub.

First a rough pattern from chipboard or construction paper was made and the shape was laid out on the metal. In this project 18 gauge mild steel was used. Sean started by bending the general contour in the panel by hand and then began working the panel with the plastic teardrop mallet. Note the X’s where the majority of the shaping will occur with the Eastwood Panelbeater Sandbag and Teardrop Mallet Kit.

After stretching the shape into the panel Sean used the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher Set to shrink the top edge of the panel to move it in. This is where you can really start to see metal start to move and take shape.

After checking the panel to the the vehicle it was determined that more shaping was required with the teardrop mallet. You can see how the guidelines and X’s are still where the majority of the shaping is occurring on the panel.

In the last couple pictures the panel really looks like a mess from first glance, but the Planishing Hammer is where the smoothing magic really happens. The pneumatic operated planishing hammer smooths the metal out very quickly by hammering the metal between two smooth surfaces. This is the same idea as using a hammer and dolly, but supercharged to save time. Be sure to wear proper hearing protection and buy the neighbors some movie tickets to get them out of the house for the night, this isn’t a quiet process!

After some time with the planishing hammer you can see the tub is smoothed out and taking shape. After a little more shaping the bottom edge was tipped and shrunk. In the last picture the tub is nearly done and it already looks like it could have been an O.E. part!

If you want to follow this build or see Sean perform some more metal shaping magic with Eastwood tools, be sure to follow along on his Instagram here:

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