At the rate I’m going I ought to start a book club. Continuing my interest in fabrication, my latest read is Sheet Metal Fabrication – Techniques and Tips for Beginners and Pros by Eddie Paul.
Sheet Metal Fabrication includes a good cross section of metal working information. Paul begins with a lesson in metallurgy, outlining the most common aluminum and steel types and alloys you’re likely to work with in custom auto and cycle fabrication. He does a great job of explaining how metal will work harden, and how to anneal, or soften, both aluminum and steel, and covers the common mistakes beginners will make shrinking, stretching, and annealing metal.
Metallurgy is followed up with a chapter on pattern making, where Paul emphasizes the importance of good patterns, and illustrates different types and methods of creating patterns. Those points are reinforced throughout the text as he walks readers through several metal projects.
The fabrication projects Paul uses to illustrate his techniques are pretty cool too, all documented with high quality color photos. Projects include a set of exaggerated fender flares and custom hood extension on a 71-73 Mustang fastback, a roll bar in a GTO convertible, new floor pans, frenched headlights, and a chopped top for a rusty 1940 Ford, a custom firewall and trunk panels in a 50 Merc, and a few others.
Paul also covers the gamut of fabrication tools. If you might find it in a metal shop, it’s probably covered in Sheet Metal Fabrication. Though I feel like most of the book leans more toward the beginner end of the spectrum, the tool sections are more advanced. He covers everything, up to and including CNC routers, cutters, and mills, and notes where a small shop or advanced hobbyist can make due with a more basic machine and where a high volume shop will save time and money with state-of-the art machines.
My only complaint about Sheet Metal Fabrication is that we never get to see photos of the finished vehicles worked on in the text. It was great to see how Paul added wild flares and a custom hood to an old Mustang, but it would have been a lot better to see how it all came together in the finished vehicle. Same goes for their 40 Ford project.
That minor complaint aside, Sheet Metal Fabrication is another great book for the aspiring metal fabricator looking to get started.