How to make a Body Panel From Scratch- Rear Quarter Panel Fabrication

If you want to get better at anything you need to practice and push yourself to try things a little out of your skill/comfort level. Metal Shaping is 100% one of those things that you need to practice and work to get better at, even if it means wrecking a piece of metal or wasting hours of work. It’s extremely frustrating, but each time you learn something new or what doesn’t work and you can learn to correct it. Recently Mark R. and I decided to make a rear quarter panel from scratch. I’ve watched some videos and seen pictures of “panel beaters” rough forming a rear quarter panel in a really short period of time and it crazy the transformation the panel takes as they beat it with hammers slowly smooth it back into shape! So we decided to make up a rear quarter panel similar in shape to that of many cars from the 60’s-70’s.

Photo Jan 29, 10 16 09 AM

We started with a pattern of the outside perimeter of the panel cut to shape. The first step was to shape the fender flare detail around the wheel opening. Mark drew out the area in which the flare metal needed to be stretched in. He then proceeded to use a teardrop mallet on the panel beater bag to pound out the rough shape of the fender flare. He tried to keep his hits all close together so the area was stretched evenly.

Photo Jan 29, 10 15 57 AM

Photo Jan 29, 10 23 28 AM

As you can see above, the area that was hit with the hammer was pretty sad looking, with lumps and waves all around the edge of the panel. We then put it into the english wheel with very little pressure on the wheels as we rolled the panel around the lumpy, stretched area Mark hit with the hammer. After a few passes the exteme high spots and lumpy areas slowly began to flatten out and the shape of the fender flare became more obvious.

Photo Jan 29, 10 21 50 AM

Photo Jan 29, 10 22 04 AM

Photo Jan 29, 10 21 25 AM

As you can see in the last picture above, the lumpy hammer marks were mostly smoothed out but there were some wavy areas of excess metal on the edges that needed to be smoothed out. These areas needed shrinking to tighten up the metal before we could move forward. We used the HD Shrinker Stretcher to tighten up the metal by doing small, light shrinks. Too heavy of a hand when shrinking could actually cause more damage than help, so we took a few light passes instead of doing a single heavy pass.

Photo Jan 29, 10 42 56 AM

Photo Jan 29, 10 43 00 AM

Once we were happy with how smooth the fender flare area was we decided to lock the shape in and give the panel a little rigidity by creating the bent fender lip. We started by using a tipping die and soft bottom wheel in the bead roller to slowly tip the edge over while we followed the radius of the wheel opening. This took a few passes to get it to about 70 degrees. Mark then used a Fairmount Hammer and Dolly to tip the edge to 90 degrees.

Photo Jan 29, 11 02 43 AM

Photo Jan 29, 11 39 55 AM

With the fender flare becoming fairly smooth and the lip now formed, we needed to move on to getting the flare detail fully stretched away from the panel to where we wanted it. We achieved this by flipping the panel over and rolling the panel in the english wheel around the wheel opening just above the fender flare. This moved the metal the opposite way around the flare to make it more pronounced from the fender. You can see in the photos we’re using a prototype rubber sleeve over the top wheel to control the amount of stretch we’re getting and for a smooth linear stretch in only the direction we want.

Photo Jan 29, 1 04 18 PM

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Photo Jan 29, 1 06 43 PM

At this point the fender flare portion was about 80% done and needed just some fine tuning and smoothing to get it perfect. We decided to move on to putting the overall shape into the panel. No automotive fender is 100% flat and our practice piece wasn’t going to be either! We started by rolling with medium pressure in the english wheel across the top of the panel until we got down to the fender flare. We then worked the sides before and aft of the flare with the wheel in the same direction. Once we got close to the bottom quarter of the rear of the quarter we changed the direction of the wheel to give it some “pinch” in and down to meet up with the rear pan of the car.

Photo Jan 29, 1 10 38 PM

Photo Jan 29, 1 15 18 PM

Finally Mark tipped the edges on the ends of the panel and cut out the marker light opening. He then finished by smoothing and tuning the shape up with the english wheel and hammer and dollies. With the shape all locked in Mark took some time with a DA sander and some 220 grit paper to take out the shrinker and hammer marks to give us a panel that was ready to install!

Photo Jan 29, 1 27 51 PM

Photo Jan 29, 1 27 59 PM

The tools used for this type of project won’t cost you another mortgage on your house and can be fit even in a small shop, it’s all in the time to learn how to use them correctly. We didn’t have a particular fender in mind when making this, but this shape and process would lend itself to MANY cars through the 60’s-90’s.


Photo Jan 30, 10 10 50 AM

Photo Jan 30, 10 10 58 AM

Photo Jan 30, 10 11 14 AM


  1. How long did it take to make the fender? What alloy of steel is the panel made from, and what gauge is it? Does 304 or 316 stainless lend itself to the same techniques or are they to tough to work?

  2. Great work as all your projects go. One issue needs to be corrected…ASP… Will you please inform us on the time spent with each photo. If you spend 7 hours creating the 1st photo and we spend 12 hours, then we will need to find out how to do it as fast as you do to make our projects more enjoyable without getting frustrated and giving up!… Thank You…

  3. Great point Jack. But with metal work and shaping, speed comes with practice and isn’t the most important factor (unless of course you’re in a production shop where you’re being paid “by the job”). This project took Mark and I a good portion of a work day, but we weren’t working on it for 8 hours straight through. A lot of the time is spent in planning the panel out, correcting and issues that come up, and analyzing the panel as you work to make sure it doesn’t get completely out of shape. The actual process of “roughing in” the panel was done within an hour, the major time shaping was in defining the wheel opening and getting the overall compound curves of the panel to our liking.

    It’s only metal! Don’t get frustrated and give up, you’ll learn from everything you build or work on if you keep a level head!

  4. Ed,

    It probably took a good portion of a 8 hour work day to build the fender from scratch, but we weren’t by any means working straight through! As mentioned in another comment I left, a lot of time is spent in planning and analyzing our next moves on the panel.

    This panel was made from 20 gauge mild cold rolled steel. There are softer options like
    “draw quality” sheet steel, but it is much harder to find, especially in smaller quantities so we like to show what the “common guy” could get at his local metal supplier.

    Stainless will be a bit harder to work and you will need to be careful of overworking the panel or “work hardening” it. The techniques are the same, it just may take more force to get the metal to do what you want (much like the difference between shaping aluminum and mild steel).

  5. I have fabbed rear 1/4 on fox body mustang had to have larger wheel opening (BIGGG Slicks) to fab whole 1/4 took me about 16 hours on first one and about 10 on second one… I am def. not an experienced body person but go slow and measure 5X’s cut once…. It was def. an experience I keep getting asked where I bought the panels from… I sold on set already for a nice pop. which shocked me. the only tool on this page I struggle with is stretcher/shrinker

  6. So when can we expect to see more die sets (tipping die for example) and skate board wheel to fit the Eastwood Bead Roller?

  7. I love Tech Tuesday’s from Eastwood… Always very informative. Notice your using some rollers on your bead roller, that I can not find from Eastwood. How about more selection of rollers, such as a tipping wheel and maybe a a radius edge?

    Keep up the good work

  8. These are final samples we’re using in the pictures and the set of new dies for the bead roller should be available in late spring/early summer!

  9. These are final samples we’re using in the pictures and the set of new dies for the bead roller should be available in late spring/early summer!

  10. Thanks for the support! These dies are final samples we’re using in the pictures and the set of new dies for the bead roller should be available in late spring/early summer!

  11. These are final samples we’re using in the pictures and the set of new dies for the bead roller should be available in late spring/early summer!

  12. Thanks, glad to hear that!… Will other dies also be available? If so, care to share, so I can wait for your product?

  13. A complex operation such as this would be much easier to understand with a video. NIce work by Mark and Matt.

  14. great to see that fender made. i have a 56 ford f100 that needs a new roof i have an english wheel now need to learn how to use it. any info is helpfull like these you put out

  15. Fantastic work guys ! That piece needs a clear coat and hung on the garage wall. Thanks for all the great tools and sharing of knowlegde.

  16. Wow, good job making this car panel from scratch. I wish that I had that kind of skill. I’m surprised that this panel can be used for most cars that were built between the 60’s to the 90’s. The panel on my car that I bought in 1997 is badly damaged. It seems like I should follow these steps to learn how to make my own panel to replace the one on my car.

  17. More and more people need to learn how to do this properly, great job guys if you could put this on video it would be great. thanks for the post

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