This post shows how to accomplish custom metal work with the aid of simple tooling from the scrap bin. This kind of tooling is invaluable when performing automotive restoration, whether going for custom made creations or original body styling. Not only is the tooling going to be simple to make, it’s going to be super cheap! The example job is making a pair of defroster/heater vents for the 1938 Chevrolet Pepsi truck dashboard.
Into the scrap bin we delve. We are looking for a certain type of material, mild steel no more than 1/4″ in thickness and that can be clamped with a bench vise. The perfect fit is a 4″ by 1/4″ thick angle iron. Length wise we’re looking for something 2″ longer each side of the overall vent length for clamping purposes.
Next up is marking out the cut lines on the angle iron that will eventually form the ‘roof’ of the air vent. Once marked then cut using a 1/16″ cut off wheel, keeping the line as straight as possible, followed by hammering this section down, and welding the ends to form the roof of the vent. We are essentially forming the vent upside down.
The picture shows our blank piece of mild steel marked with one cut line. The blank is then lined up and clamped into position. To actually form the vent mouth, we use hand made nylon chasers. These tools chase the material down into the depth of the tooling until bottoming out. Unclamp the material, and there you have one custom made vent section ready to graft in our factory dashboard.
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