Story and Photos by Dan Burrill

Anybody building a project car will at some point have to cut and weld metal tubing for frames, pipes, roll bars and roll cages. And once done, they have to be prepped for paint, powder coat or chroming. Tools, technique and practice — also known as experience — are the real keys to this entire process. Metal finishing is an art, but with a few inexpensive shop tools anyone with a little patience and practice can become good at it. There is a lot of satisfaction in doing the job and getting it to look right.

Most of the tools used here came from Harbor Freight or Sears, with the exception of the carbide burr, which is available at machine tool stores for about $20. Also, we used a 110-volt Lincoln Electric welder with gas, working out of our garage. In other words, if we can do it, you can too!

Making an angled, notched cut on frame tubing has always been challenging. Now, we all like new toys, and as luck would have it, just as we were getting ready to do this job, we got a new one in the mail. We were quite pleased with the way this all worked out, so we decided to include it along with the rest of the tools we used.

You know the old saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” Well, this new tool, called the PipeMaster, just made the job a lot easier. It comes in a dozen different sizes from 1 inch to 4 1/4 inches, and is also available in metric sizes. It’s great for fitting two or more tubes together and getting the right fit every time. You just press, transfer and trace. It saves time by eliminates recutting and grinding, and wasted material as well. Which is all totally tubular!