After blanking the side panels out, I was ready to form the beads for the wheelwell openings. I recently got a Dake “Universal” machine, similar to a Pullmax, and I thought this would be an ideal way to form this important detail. I used shop-built dies to make the bead, and rather than free-handing the curve, I decided to guide the panel from a center pivot, ensuring the radius of the bead would be absolutely true. After finding the center of the wheelwell, I screwed a temporary fixture plate to the panel. This plate has a 1-inch hole in it, which I positioned at the center of the wheelwell radius. The Dake machine has an adjustable guide that this plate can slip over. I also made a table for the machine to hold the panel level as it is guided through the dies. The bead was done in two passes, and the results were outstanding!

The top panels were next. I bent a 1-inch flange on pieces of metal 42 inches long. These flanges fit against the inner edge of the buck, so the flanged edges on the cross panels will meet them. The beading dies were modified to fit over the flange on these panels, and I ran each of them through the machine, producing a nice, crisp bead.

Next, I used a stretcher and shrinker, like the Eastwood, to contour these panels to fit the buck. Once they fit perfectly, I annealed the outer edge of the panels, and then I used drywall screws to hold the inner flanges securely against the buck. I used a wooden caulking tool to start working the panel down tightly against the curved top edge of the buck. A short time later, with some use of a stretcher, a shrinker, and a body hammer, I had a nearly perfect fit.

I recently borrowed a riveting gun from a friend, equipped with special plastic-tipped tooling from TM Technologies. I decided to use this to roll the edge of the turtle deck side over the hammerform, and it did a fantastic job. It’s much faster and smoother than hand hammering.

I used this same tool to form the edge of the wheelwell panel, working over another hammerform, and then I cut the side panel out to fit the wheelwell, and welded them together using a Miller TIG welder. This edge weld was a little tricky to clean up, but after about an hour’s work with some sanders and files, the first side was completed.

Next, I joined the side piece to the top piece. They were tack-welded first, and then the joint was worked with a hammer and dolly to fine-tune the alignment. Once everything was fitting just-so, I TIG-welded the joint. I got a little distortion from the welds on these long seams, so I did some heat shrinking in the center of the panel to eliminate the “oil-can” that developed. After straightening the panel, I metal-finished everything, and the reflections from the newly filed surface showed just how true and consistent all the contours were.

With the turtle deck sides finished, I joined them to the cross pieces, and set the buck for the decklid into place to check the fit. With everything looking good so far, I used the English wheel to shape the skin for the decklid, checking the fit against the buck periodically.

After the panel was properly shaped, I was ready to flange the edges. The top edge was straight, so I made that flange on a sheetmetal brake. To ensure the sides of the decklid matched the opening perfectly, I scribed the location of the flanges from the inside with a transfer punch.

I decided to form the last three flanges in a way I hadn’t tried before; using a beading machine with a “tipping” (peaked) die on top, and a skateboard wheel on the bottom. This tooling makes a gentle but precise crease on the edge of the metal, and leaves a crisp line at the base of the flange. Next, with flat dies installed, I ran the panel through the machine freehand several times, sharpening the angle of the flange with each pass. As long as I kept the edge of the crease precisely aligned with the die, this worked very well, and my few minor wobbles were easily corrected with some careful hammer and dolly work.

After flanging, the decklid was tried into place, and with some small adjustments, the fit was excellent. Look closely at the photos that accompany this article; they should clarify many of the details. Stay tuned for the next segment.

Ron Covell has made a DVD to accompany this article, showing every step in much more detail. A broad range of techniques are demonstrated, and Ron’s ongoing commentary, coupled with the great close-up photography, will take the mystery out of this complicated project. You can order from Covell Creative Metalworking online at, or call (800) 747-4631.

A convex file is needed in the reverse-curve area near the front of the panel. Now you can get a good idea of how nicely the panel has been smoothed out.

The side panels are fitted to the cross panels, and the buck for the decklid is checked for fit. Everything looks great, so I’ll start wheeling the decklid skin.

The shaping on the decklid is about two-thirds completed at this point, and I’m checking it against the buck to see where to make the final adjustments.

The last step is forming the subtle reverse curve at the front of the decklid. The panel is placed upside-down in the English wheel for this operation.

The edges are being run through a beading machine in preparation for flanging. I’m using a tipping die on the top, and a urethane skateboard wheel on the bottom.

Next, flat dies are placed in the machine, and the panel is run through several times with upward pressure, bringing the angle of the flange up to 90 degrees.

The lower flange is marked last. I’ve clamped the panel into place, and sprayed Dykem on the surface to highlight the line left by the 7/16-inch-diameter transfer punch.

After trimming the panel 1/2 inch from the line, it is carefully tracked on the scribed line, using the tipping die and the urethane bottom wheel.

With the flanging completed, the decklid is tested for fit. After a few small adjustments, you can see that it fits great, and the contours match perfectly.

The Eastwood Company
Dake Machine Tools
Grand Haven
TM Technologies
N. San Juan
Lazze Metalshaping
Miller Electric Mfg. Co