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Anyone know anything about shaping flat aluminum (sheet metal)?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by xander18, May 11, 2011.

  1. xander18

    xander18 Hotrod Hobo

    I would like to make X75 Hurricane-like sheet metal for my cafe (Pic).

    I was going to model it in CAD, cut it into manageable sized pieces (I want exposed rivets anyway) then section my models and make wood molds/templates for the maybe 3 or 4 pieces on each side and start hammering aluminum down, potentially heating it for the smaller radius curves.

    If anyone knows anything about beating on aluminum does this sound like a good way to do it? I'm concerned about using softer aluminum and having hammer divets all over it that I can't get out. Any particular kind of aluminum I should be looking for?
  2. hooktool

    hooktool XS650 Junkie

  3. Punkskalar

    Punkskalar Hugh's HandBuilt

    All of this bike is hand shaped aluminum...

    Not exactly a How-To, but definitely an inspiration... You'll want to soften the aluminum before going to work on it, or it will stress crack and fatigue. You'll work harden it as well, so you'll need to anneal it often.

    Hammer marks are gonna happen, you'll want an english wheel to work those back out...
  4. xander18

    xander18 Hotrod Hobo

    That DVD looks like it will be well worth the money. I'm all about building my 'skill toolbox' and metal shaping is near the top of the list. That 3003 looks decently affordable too, so excellent news for the ol' piggy bank.
  5. hooktool

    hooktool XS650 Junkie

    You don't need to anneal the 3003 h14. You can smooth it with hand tools, too.

  6. xander18

    xander18 Hotrod Hobo

    No english wheel?
  7. If you want "coach maker" results, at a minimum you will want a sandbag, mallets and an English wheel as well as cutting tools. You can make simple curves without these tools but for compound curves you will want them. It is an art. Bear in mind that aluminum will work harden and annealing shouldn't be ruled out.

    Good luck! I look forward to seeing your results.
  8. hooktool

    hooktool XS650 Junkie

    No english wheel-that's why you need to see David's DVD. I have a high end english wheel, but often smooth with just a slapper or spoon over a dolly or shaping head. I do more shaping in a stump than a sandbag, and use hammers that I make.

    Here's the biggest aluminum project I've been around, it belongs to a friend in Huntsvlle, who is one of the owners of the AllMetalshaping.com site. It's made from 3003, no annealing at all. Many of his friends make sections using patterns he supplies, so we may not even know what part we are working on. I've made several parts for it, some were wheeled, some not. There should never be hammer marks as they will not really come out-as opposed to "walnuts" which are the dents made from the hammer and can be smoothed. Hammers/mallets with wood/plastic faces won't mark, and steel hmmers are shaped so as not to mark.

    Look at David's youtubes vids, and check out Allmetalshaping.com for a few evenings.


    Attached Files:

  9. xander18

    xander18 Hotrod Hobo

    John, that is gorgeous. Lemme hijack my own thread for a moment here, what chassis is that on?

    I guess I'll order the DVDs and watch them before I ask more questions :)
  10. hooktool

    hooktool XS650 Junkie

    Custom chassis, built in his shop. A GM straight six. Beyond that I don't know, I'm not a car guy-just help him make parts to learn. He has a metal shaping gathering there a couple times a year. You can find the thread by searching for "Imperial Bugatti" on Allmetalshaping site.

  11. Damn! That DVD comes out to $60 USD? For one DVD? Seems a bit high. It's making me think twice about ordering it.
  12. xander18

    xander18 Hotrod Hobo

    That is steep. But if it truly is a zero to hero kind of a tutorial it's probably worth it. Does anyone actually have this thing and can attest to how good it is?
  13. atomic22

    atomic22 XS650 Addict

    I'm looking and trying to do the same thing. I've basically just started pounding on metal and working it into some sort of simple shape. I need to make some slappers to get the metal smooth, but it's a start.
    The chop cult article is similar to what I'm going for. Most of my reading suggest you just need to find or make up your own tools. Easier said than done, but I figured if I can learn to build a bike and work with the electrical I can figure this out as well. Plus it's really relaxing to bang on some metal after a long day at work. :)
  14. hooktool

    hooktool XS650 Junkie

    The DVD is worth the money-he's one of the best in the world, and its well thought out.

    Once again, for FREE, you can go to allmetalshaping.com, also metalmeet.com. There is enough metalshaping content on those to keep you reading for months. A lot of car guys, but quite a bit of motorcycle related stuff, and lots of basic 101 type stuff.

    You might be surprised how little you really need to get started, or how (relatively) simple it can be.

  15. xander18

    xander18 Hotrod Hobo

    John, I'll go with the DVD when my 'fun money' account replenishes. In the meantime I'll probably make some tools, buy some scrap and start banging on it.
  16. oldbiker

    oldbiker oldbiker

    my deceased older brother in melbourne was a great hands on with cars and motorbikes he built s spot on panwl van deseamed ,,, later purchased an italian solt top ,,which had an aluminia body,,i did see it stripped ,,and alas ,,never saw it completed regards oldbiker
  17. MattKaye

    MattKaye XS650 New Member

    Hi xander18
    Hope you are doing great buddy!

    Sheet metal fabrication is the act of forming, shaping, and joining metal together to build and or repair a tangible part. There are many techniques and tools. It’s been done since the beginning of time when even the simplest tools were used. In this article we will share the most common and important tools, machines, and techniques for the DIY fabricator.

    Metal Shaping
    I have also recently completed my office renovation work. I did a lot of research on metal beating . I found that metal Shaping or forming can only change metal in four ways. You can bend, cut, shrink and stretch metal to form it. Like you , I also was worried about how I will do it. Then one of my friend told me about Clinton aluminium and he told me about Matt, he helped me lot in my renovation work and guided me about what type and how to use the aluminium. I think You too need a guide for your cafe work which you will get from the following sites-



    Below are the common tools and techniques to perform these tasks.

    Tucking Metal-
    Tucking metal is one of the earliest methods of shrinking metal. In this method you’re literally bunching the metal together by forcing it between a crevice with a spade hammer or by folding the metal over at the edges with a homemade tucking fork. This method is one that has been used to form some of the earliest most valuable sports cars. A good hammer and a wooden stump with cleverly placed cuts and crevices formed can work wonders!

    A shrinker is a lever-operated tool (hand or foot) that has moving textured jaws that grasp sheet metal from the top and the bottom and force it together tightly. This method is much more precise than tucking with a hammer and form, but moves the metal much slower. You can carefully work particular areas to shrink them as desired. The shrinker leaves minimal marring on the metal, most of which can be removed or smoothed out with a sanding disc or file.

    Heat Shrinking- This is a method that takes a lot of practice. The basic idea is that you heat a overstretched area (with a torch) almost red hot and then as the area cools it shrinks.
    The type or amount of stretched metal or damage will determine how you shrink or smooth the area out. You may need to hammer and dolly the area or quench the area with a wet rag or compressed air to get the desired shrink.

    Alternatively there are shrinking discs on the market that are attached to an angle grinder that use friction to create the heat. These are a bit more precise and avoid using a torch/flame to heat and shrink the metal.

    I hope my ideas will help you. Thanks in advance buddy :00

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