Make your own tools.
Voodoo Choppers has been specializing in handcrafted motorcycles since it started in 1999. We build everything from scratch. Fuel tanks, fenders, frames, you name it… we’ve built it. Over the years we have acquired a lot of different tools and equipment to help us produce high quality pieces. One misconception about metal shaping is that you need to have a lot of equipment. With all the bullshit on TV, many think you need a boat load of money just to get going. The truth is, you can make many tools yourself that will help you throughout your metal shaping career
One hand tool that I find indispensable is a metal slapper. A slapper has a long contact surface with an offset handle. You “slap” the metal using a sliding motion. Normally you would use a hand dolly in one hand and the slapper in the other, or you might back-up the metal work with a forming head or shot bag while working a slapper on the surface. A metal slapper can be used while you’re shaping a piece or it’s great to use while you are welding. Slappers are also great for “slapping” the shit out of someone. I’m sure you can figure that one out for yourself.
A few years back I purchased a box of old files. There was probably about forty or so files, all different styles. Old files are perfect for making a metal slapper. There easy to find, cheap and hardened. For this example I made one with a compound surface using an old half round file. Follow along and have some fun…
These old files won’t remove much material anymore, but they are great for making a slapper. I grabbed a half round to make a compound slapper. The finished slapper will have a gentle sweep.
After cutting off the handle with a “cut off” wheel, I chucked the file in a vise and brought out the torch. The first bend is to make an offset for the handle. You just need to heat up the metal, you don’t want to burn the metal. I use about 4 or 5 inches of material for a handle. You’ll want to adjust if you have chick hands.
Hell… maybe around 45 degrees looks good. Were not making a rocket ship here folks. The handle is in the vise.
After heating up the metal at the base, I start walking the heat zone up the file while pulling back on the vise grip to produce the sweep I want in the slapper face. Don’t worry about mucking up the file teeth with the vise grip.
A little time on a sanding belt and this bitch is ready to work. I dressed the edges of the handle and the nose.
This slapper worked well to create a concave surface in this seat transition.