Hand built Bodywork – Drivers Side Door Pillar

Hand-made Bodywork - sill

I’m new to hand-built bodywork, so getting the dimension of the driver’s side door pillar within 1mm of the nearside was beyond hard. I’ve always heard stories about one side of a hand-made Ferrari or Aston being different to the other and now I fully understand why.

Lessons Learned

It seemed that with every bend I was shrinking metal that moments before I had just stretched. Each time I bent a new curve, the edges I had spent ages getting right, were destroyed.

The first sill was labour intensive, so for it’s mirrored twin, I used the bead roller and tipping dies to create folds. It turned out that when you Jenny roll curves it’s hard to get 90º bends as the metal needs shrinking. I was therefore back and forth between the Jenny and the Shrinker. There was less hammering and the edges came out crisper, but there was no time saved.

Next time I need to make a mirrored pair, I will make them at the same time. Each side is made of several smaller pieces welded together. Instead of completing one side then moving to the other, I’ll Cleco everything up so adjustment can be made. That way it will be easier to get a matching pair.

Driver’s Side Door Sill

Hand-made Bodywork - sillIn the case of the first door pillar and sill, there were quite a few modifications made.  On first attempt the door wouldn’t open wide enough. Therefore, for some bodywork items, I can see there being quite a few ‘prototypes’.

Hand-made Bodywork - sill
Mirrored twins are tricky, so by this stage I’d made numerous paper and steel templates. These templates have a duel purpose, as I will be using them to make some small internal braces. This sill has a tendency to twist, but with a couple of lightweight dimple-die braces it should become pretty stiff. Mirrored twins of the braces will also help keep both sides equal.

Door Pillar

Adding the vertical pillar for the hinges was the quick part. Four folds in the brake and a few welds, gave instant progress. I added the 14mm deep recess for the Golf Mk5 hinges and the groove so that the door wouldn’t foul.

Hand-made Bodywork - sill
The more bits you add, the stiffer the pillar gets. However, it will also be reinforced with 3mm plate and dimple die braces. At this stage, without the internal bracing there is still too much flex.

Hand-made Bodywork - sill
The curved panel is the mounting flange for the front wing. It will be drilled with M8 nuts welded to the reverse. The panel, which also forms part of the inner wheel arch still has the shrinker marks showing.

Making the sill full width in one piece would have meant too much metal to keep shrinking and stretching, so I made it in two and butt welded them using Intergrips from AB Tools. I find these better than some others I have, as the draw plate thinner. Also, I can replace the short bar with a longer one to keep the workpiece a little flatter and less prone to warping.

IntergripsWhen I lowered the sides of the chassis 5 inches I added some extra bracing. The sill now covers this.
Hand-made Bodywork - sill


This is not going to be one of those cars that you could simply prime and spray. There will be some filler or ‘Mud’. Some of what you see is MIG welded but a fair percentage Gas welded. My MIG welding is far better than my gas. I only gas weld what I know I can straighten in the wheel as currently it has a tendency to buckle, shrink and stretch. The sill needed to be butt welded so I gas welded that. However, the cover over the chassis brace was MIG welded as access to straighten was limited. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to hammer and dolly.

I’ll get the laser pointers out and drill the holes to mount the hinges. That’ll be my datum points for the whole car sorted.

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