Metalworking is basic: Understand the metal—and the tools with which to manipulate it—and you can practically make it do anything you want. Whether it's as complex as hammering and forming a Deuce quarter-panel from scratch or, as we're about to show, bending up a custom Model 40 hood from sheet aluminum, there's not much you can't transform a flat piece of metal into.

The will to achieve must be followed by the will to learn, be it from others or, as many of the "others" have done, by trial and error themselves. Knowing the limits of the metal media in which you're working is as important as knowing precisely how to "stretch" each piece to those particular limits, through both the tools and the processes that are required to do so. Maybe not so much basic in the literal sense of the term, but with time come the skills, and with those skills the shapes of your desires literally come to life!

OK, enough with the corniness. To illustrate exactly what we're talking about, we made a few stops by Fabian Valdez's shop, Vintage Hammer Garage in Riverside, California. This issue, he'll walk us through the process of working a sheet of aluminum into a custom, handmade hood. We'll follow that up (two issues from now, as next month we'll be devoting an entire issue to R&C's 60th anniversary) with the ancient art of punching louvers. Enjoy!