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Super Moderator
1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
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23,897 Posts
I was always reluctant to try body work. My first rusthole fill and paint work discouraged me, but I have to remember how my first circle and straight line looked. I took art class in school and some people have 'it' and some people don't. I could crash them, but I wouldn't even try to fix them.
I watched the sculptures and artists in the body shop and learned some things about sheetmetal and paint work. A dent will stretch the metal at the edges when it occurs and popping a large dent on a flat panel is easier than a small dent. A dent on a crease or curve is very difficult.
I always try to push out at the center of the dent with a blunt push to start. Tapping with hammers and dollies may come later to finesse the injury. The sheetmetal in the area around the dent will be distorted and wavy from the stretching. Some shrinking back into shape is the part that is difficult. Periodically stop work to look down the side of the car to see how you are doing and where to work on next. Heat guns will expand metal and dry-ice (use gloves) will shrink metal to help form it temporarily. Once it 'sets' and holds shape, see how it turns out. Suction cups and drilling slide hammer holes haven't worked for me as a sharp rap may stretch the metal the other way, but might be useful for some cases. A suction cup may help pull while you push.
Removing interior trim to assess and work on the other side of the situation is a good idea, although some crash-beam structures or double-wall construction may halt that.
Dings are usually deep, sharp dents but not that large. I watched the Ding Doctor at work on used cars at the dealer. He has a mobile service that comes around to prep used cars at dealers. He first uses bright lights beamed down the side of the vehicle to see where all the dings are and marks a circle around them. They will cast a shadow and become much easier to see. He can also watch his progress in removing them. He uses 'spoons' of many different shapes and sizes to match the ding shape to be pushed out from the inside. An 'anvil' on the other side of the ding gives the metal something to meet and stop against. He works slowly and methodically. Push, not hit is the first thing to try. After a rub-out and doll-up, the result is often amazing.
 
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