7 Must Have Auto Body Tools To Get Started in Auto Body Repair

7 Must-Have Auto Body Tools

When getting started in the auto body repair business, let’s face it… you need some auto-body tools.

You may be a hobbyist or you might be looking into an auto body and paint as a new money-making venture for yourself (which we also show you how to start in LABAP VIP). Whatever your choice is, if you want to paint a car and start doing up your projects, you need to start building your tool chest.

Spray guns and all that good stuff. Looking for top-quality spry guns that we use? Check out the ATOM-X spray guns here.

Today we’re going to talk about the 7 most common auto body and paint tools that you’ll probably end up needing in the near future if you already don’t have them by now.

Did you enjoy the video? Check out the LABAP VIP course that will help turn you into an auto body and paint pro, from home!

Learn Auto Body VIP

1. Air Compressor

If you’re serious about painting cars and auto body repair as a money-making venture then you’ll want an air compressor that will last you years and years to come.

Then I recommend picking up a 240V 60-gallon with a 5-7 HP setup.

(See detailed post on the best size air compressor you need here).

It’s perfect for painting a car, or a large van and will power all of your air tools with ease. It’s a workhorse that you’ll be proud you bought. Bigger is better when it comes to compressors.

If you want something small and only plan on painting touch-ups and motorcycles then a 25-35 gallon air compressor will work for you.

SIDE NOTE: You can and I have painted a full car with a smaller 30-gallon tank. You just need to keep your eyes and ears on the pressure fluctuation and adjust accordingly while you paint I don’t recommend it,  but it can be done.


I get asked all the time …” Tony what kind of spray gun should I get?” I always reply with “get what you can afford?” …If you can afford $1,000. SATA, then get it because it’s one of the best brands out there along with Iwata.

It will definitely show a difference when laying your paint, OR you can get the new ATOM X spray gun for a fraction of the cost compared to the SATA, plus you get the same results. And I proved it.

The ATOM is the main spray gun that we use at the LABAP Headquarters. Shop for an ATOM-X spray gun here. These guns are simply amazing and you now officially get MP technology which means less overspray, less paint waste, and better direct coverage on your panels.

Just remember that you don’t need the BEST gun when getting started. When I first started painting, I started with $100. Astro spray gun. I don’t even think it was an HVLP. But I painted for at least a year or two with that same gun. Remember, as you get better, you can invest and get a better spray gun. You’ll start to notice that your paint jobs start to come out better with a spray gun that atomizes correctly. This is one of the most important factors.

You want a spray gun that properly ATOMIZES your paint into fine particles onto the panel, which will result in a glossier professional paint job. Of course, your spray gun speed and material flow also play a factor. But a good gun is also key to superior finishes.

Do you want to get a German or Japanese high-end spray gun like an Iwata or SATA for a fraction of the cost? Check out the line of ATOM-X at ZooLaa.com (a great site for high-quality spray guns and pearls and flakes).

These spray guns are the ONLY spray guns that we use for all of our projects. They spray FANTASTIC and are made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship. And you get it all for about 1/3 of the cost compared to the most expensive spray guns on the market while getting the same professional features and qualities.

3. Dual Action Sander

Now, This is not really a MUST-HAVE but will save you a TON of time with basic sanding and body filler shaping. Get one if you can afford it. They cost anywhere from $50. – $175. (see a complete post on Dual Action sanders here).

I show you exactly how you can use one of these to cut some MAJOR time off of your bodywork and sanding times. Don’t worry, all of these strategies are located in our Learn Auto Body VIP course and you can learn more about that here.


4. Slide Hammer/ Stud Welder

If you’re planning on repairing some form of dents and pulling out panels then one of these is a must. You can go with a cheaper version and get a basic slide hammer that uses screws and or hook adapters to pull out dents. Or your other option is to invest in an electric stud welder.

When they first came out you’d see them being sold for $350. – $450. Nowadays you can pick them up for under $190. Not bad!

If on a budget, do not count out local swap meets or your local online classifieds to pick up great used tools. I have had many VIP members score compressors and a ton of auto body and paint tools from craigslist.com and other popular classifieds online for fractions of what they would have paid if they had bought them new.

If you’re not sure how to use one of these, don’t worry because we have step-by-step videos in our VIP area that will walk you through the entire process and show you how to use these same tools with maximum results and success.

Yes, we also show you ‘insider’ sneaky tips and tricks that only auto body pros really know about :).


5. Auto body Hammer and Dolly Set

Ready to whip panels back into shape? Ready to be the real deal with the steel?

Then get yourself a nice auto body hammer and dolly set. You’ll need them. There are different hammers for each unique job. Expect this set to cost anywhere from $30. and up to $150. for a brand name like Eastwood.

This is a set that you’ll probably only buy once in your life. I still have and use my father’s originals. If you get the wooden handle kind, the handles are the only part that you’ll really end up replacing over the years.


6. Autobody Sanding Blocks

We all need a sanding block. My favorite is the Holy Block (picture below) they work really well for me. There great wet or dry and has a nice flex to them. Durablock is another great brand with all types of shapes.

Sanding blocks are crucial when doing autobody repair. You need them when color sanding and buffing, for shaping body filler and you need them to help to with cutting high spots and to help you find low spots in your bodywork. Auto body blocks are a must-have on the toolbox and are very affordable.


7. Body Filler/ Bondo Spreader and Putty Knives

Putty knives or Bondo spreaders are used to mix body fillers aka (Bondo). You can get them in metal or plastic.

I used to like the metal ones because they last longer. When they get caked up with filler you can clean them fairly easily with your DA sander or on a wire wheel very easily.

What I don’t like about the metal type is that, once you’re finished applying your filler, you need to clean them right away. If you don’t, it’s a little harder to clean than the plastic ones.

With the plastic applicators, after your finished spreading your filler, you can basically leave the Bondo on it. After it hardens you can easily peel it off and you’re ready for your next mixing and application.

That’s why I rather use the plastic-type in combination. Below you’ll see both types of applicators. Metal and plastic.

PHEW… That was a lot of information!

Now, don’t get me wrong.

You can do bodywork without a few of these auto body tools such as the DA sander and Hammer set but you’ll be very limited on what you can repair.

…And over time, you’ll probably end up adding more tools to your man cave but for now, I really think these 7 tools above are the basics and essential for completing some awesome auto body repair jobs.

Other Auto Body and Paint Tools You May Need:

-Mig Welder
-Plasma Cutter
-Car Lift
Pneumatic Straight Sander
-Spot Welder
Cut off Wheel
Buffer/ Polisher
-Mini Frame Machine

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope that it was VERY helpful for you and gave you an idea of what you can build up to. Your home garage is awesome.

I know the feeling of building one. Let it be your place to hang out and build out AMAZING projects.

Let us also help you learn EVERYTHING YOU NEED about auto body repair and painting. Check this link out here today to see why THOUSANDS of VIP members are raving about our awesome Auto Body VIP course and private community support. Isn’t it time for you to get REAL Results out of your projects?

Please leave your comments below talking about your favorite tools and any other thoughts that you may have for us. We would LOVE to hear from you!


61 thoughts on “7 Must Have Auto Body Tools To Get Started in Auto Body Repair”

  1. I did my car before I knew about your offerings. Most of my mistakes were related to lack of discipline and lighting. I cannot stress enough how important REALLY GREAT LIGHTING is to each and every stage of a body/paint project. Shadows were my worst enemy when sanding out scratches and stuff. It really effected the outcome.

    • Great point. It’s not only good lighting, I’ll add, it’s also how to use the light in your advantage when doing bodywork and painting. Using the light to find high and low areas, to find imperfections and scratches.

  2. You should keep more paying options like cash on delivery for the training course. I love to learn about paint jobs but sometimes don’t have the right materials. I do everything with my compressor and HVLP spray gun, but the results are not worth it. How can I get better finishes?

    • You can mail in you payment for VIP. In contact us’ we have a mailing address and you can send money order or check to join VIP. I would take it slow. Learn from our site. We have a lot of real usable information that will help you.

      Watch our free videos one by one, then when you feel like you are understanding and want to get to the next level our VIP course and community will be a great step in the right direction. Thanks for your comments.

    • hey,

      If you use that air compressor, I would use a LVLP spray gun. If you can get a biffer compressor that has a bigger tank and put’s out more scfm, then do that. Get what you can afford. Bigger the better.

      I just shot a video on that topic and will be posting it very soon. Watch out for some email updates on that. Cheers mate!

  3. Tony,
    Lets talk about enamel paint. With a devillbiss finish line the 4-1 mixture isnt flowing. PPG omni line and starfire. It’s too thick! I’m trippling the reducer ratio just to get mist in the garage. terrible orange peel, wtf! brand new air compressor, spray gun,traps everything. Even all body panels.

  4. love your videos.
    I am just starting out and need all the help i can get.I have a 96 caprice that my brother sarted on but cant finish because his business started getting busy so i am going to try to finish myself.wish me luck

  5. I love you guys! THANKS for providing lots of videos and imfo! I really enjoy the custom modified stuff! Im eatin’ it up, mental candy. The old timers had metal to work with, now we have plastic, lol!

  6. I get what you’re trying to do and I appreciate the effort you’re making but sometimes you’re just on the verge of giving awesome advice and then you drop the ball. For example you use the puma compressor in your blog as an example of a reasonably priced compressor that fits the bill but it costs almost $200 extra to ship so total cost of ownership is actually about $700. I also don’t think I hear you ever mention the actual TYPES of compressors but even though they are more expensive I think a better recommendation would be to invest in a rotary screw compressor because trust me as long as you start getting into painting and air tools you’re going to end up requiring more and more air and apart from that cheaper compressors are not as reliable or as quiet as rotary screw. I’m no expert but i’ve been shopping around for a new one and the things i’m pointing out are things I wish someone would have explained to me when I was buying my first or second compressor so I could have made one purchase and not waste money over and over. I actually still wish someone could explain a few things to me like for example when the compressor rating says 10 CFM or 10 SCFM what’s the difference? or if the HVLP gun requires 10 CFM do you need a 10CFM compressor or slightly more like 15CFM so you don’t have to play “catch up” waiting for enough air to finish spraying. Also I wish someone could tell me if a 10CFM compressor means that from the moment you switch it on even if the tank is empty you will be guaranteed a continues 10 CFM at whatever pressure it’s rated at like 10CFM @40 psi from the moment the compressor is switched on even if the tank is empty.

    • hey Justin! Thanks for your comment. The rotary screw compressors are not as popular for DIY guys or med to small body shops because the good ones are pretty expensive. They are for larger facilities where multiple pneumatic machines are needed. A factory for instance.

      The better of the two piston compressors will be the 2 stage compressor. They are quieter, have a longer lasting life and pump out more CFM than a single stage compressor. If your spray gun requires 10 cfm to operate, then yes, you need a compressor that would be able to keep up with you as you spray. I’m not sure if a smaller compressor could push out 10 cfm out of the gate without first building some pressure in your tank. That’s why it’s best to have a larger tank than a smaller one.

      That’s why it’s important to have a larger motor. 4-5HP under load at best. When you get lower than that, it will have a harder time to play catch up’ with you if you’re using continuous air.

      In my experience a 60 gallon 5hp setup is more than enough air for all around shop use or home garage. You can get away with a 33 gal 3hp compressor (I’ve done it) and paint a car. You just need to know how to time your spraying because you do need to wait for the compressor to catch up.

      What you can also do is invest in a LVLP spray gun that uses a lot less air. I am in the process of setting up a new home garage and will document the entire process. I am still waiting for the new compressor ( I will reveal what I ended up getting and what brand later in another post).

      I’ll also have a section on how to build a garage spray booth. Keep me posted on what you are working on brother!


  7. Hi. Tony Michael from. Ireland here got you DVDS I. Am. Getting my. Tools Bet. Boy. Bet. I. Will. B. Singing Back. Up. To. VIP. Soon tanks. Tony and keep Doing what. You. Do. You. Ar A. True ARTIST

  8. Hi Tony,
    Just want to say that I truly appreciate all the time and effort you put into making all these videos and emails. It shows you’re passionate about this skill and it shows in all of your enthusiasm. Your videos and book have brought my personal skill level up ten fold. You are a master of your craft sir. Keep on dishing out the knowledge and I will continue to learn and give you my gratitude. I have told all my friends that are in the biz about your videos and book and online course and they have all learned new info even though they have been painting for over a decade and thought they knew everything. Sincerely thanks again brother.

  9. I really appreciate your time and trouble trying to teach an old meat head like myself the basics. Thank you. I wish I could afford your top of the line stuff but I’m an old disabled Vet, trying to make ends meet… could you point me an a direction for an affordable LVLP stray gun? Thanks again!

  10. Hey Tony, You are a wealth of knowledge, thank you. I have one question. I have watched dozens of videos where different brands and classes of paint guns are compared. Yes there is a difference in atomization and other areas; however, it seems to me that when the painting is done the color sanding and polishing become the great equalizer. This process removes the orange peel and creates a mirror finish. My question is this, does using an $800.00 gun simply reduce the color sanding time or do the expensive guns eliminate the color sanding process all together?

    • Thank you Mike. You are correct. You can have a mediocre spray gun and get ok results, then color sand and buff it to a show room gloss. That’s why it’s important that you know how to buff :).

      Your other question, “Does using a $800. dolor gun reduce the process?” Yes and no. You can have a mediocre spray gun and (know how to paint) and get gloss results. The trick is knowing how to lay your paint on with a combination of using top-quality clear.

      That’s why I say to guys that you don’t need to spend $800 on a gun to get Pro results but on the other hand, you also don’t want to use a cheapo $39. Harbor Freight spray gun either. Use a mid grade gun with a 1.3 – 1.4 needle and you’ll be fine.

      I’ve tested many spray guns in my day and I got to tell you that the guns that I am using now are top-tier for a fraction of the price. I get no-buff gloss with these guns here.

      Hope this helps!


  11. Hey Tony, just received your free online book.
    Thank u very much, appreciated!.. i do own a couple hvlp guns, one requires bout 9cfm, n one requires almost 15 cfm..ive used them with lets say fair results, lil bit of orange peel n hard to keep up with my 33 gal compressor..i have to say that people need to take serious your suggestion bout getting an lvlp gun.. i just received mine online n couldnt wait to spray a door panel right away when it came n the results were unreal! Finish went on like glass and i didnt really notice it spraying less material, as in low volume.. u answered my question in a previous comment on here, if u have minimal or no orange peel theres no reason to cut n buff… but if its a paying job, u just release it as is since its recommended to wait couple weeks at least yo apply sealer or wax/polish? Thanks john

  12. Hi Tony, are there any LVLP guns that you would recommend. I was looking at the ASTRO EVOT14 – but I’d need to order one from the US as they are difficult to get hold of in the UK. I’ve also read that if you want to spray metallic (which I do) then I will struggle with an LVLP setup. Any advice welcome. Chris

  13. I really enjoyed the article and found it most helpful. I had definitely been wondering what size air compressor to go with, especially since I have realized that I’m going to have to start my own business, and no body shop anywhere near me willing to take on a woman.

    I got started several years ago with a very dear friend who eventually had to retire early due to health issues. Fortunately I found something that I’m truly passionate about and actually picked up fairly easily. It’s been extremely interesting to watch the reactions of different people when I casually explain what I do for a living.

    I have found that painting with a spray paint gun is easier than a wimpy spray paint can any day. I’m actually filling in some time with another friend who doesn’t mind having a woman around, as it’s actually helped him with doing Mechanics free-lance. Seems most women feel better having another woman around to help explain what they don’t understand.

    Funny thing is, I also found out that I’m ambidextrous with a spray gun. Being right hand dominant, I would never have believed this if anyone had told me.

    I thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing and don’t intend to stop until my body says enough. Hoping to be able to catch more articles on the auto body and paint work industry soon.

  14. Hello Tony. I hope this Is the right forum to post this question. I saw you sandpaper video, but I had a problem. I had sanded my work to about 1000 grit, but after seeing your video, I remanded it to 600 grit. It left bad scratches that I could only take out with 800 to 1000 grit. What did I do wrong? Thanks.

  15. I have accidently ordered your course twice but I did want the CD set that I could not order.
    My Bank suggested to call you first to straighten this out before I dispute the extra charge.
    Please email me to take the extra charge off and get the CD set.
    Thank You,

  16. Thanks! This is great information! My son is just starting to get into the idea of working on cars, specifically auto body work. We are definitely going to check out your program!

  17. Hi Tony,

    Safety first 🙂
    I think that an important item missing is a mask (maybe also gloves and spray clothing).
    I am waring glasses and is struggling to find a full face mask, which I can use with my glasses any suggestions?


  18. Hey bro. Excellent doesn’t start to describe your videos. Thanks a lot. Wish i could join VIP right now but just can’t afford to at this point but soon hopefully.
    I’m saving to buy a compressor, in my country it’ll be the most expensive piece of equipment I’ll be needing. I have a car that needs some repair and a respray. I wouldn’t be able to afford a 5hp but I’m looking at the Husky 3.7 hp 60 gallon. Already have a LVLP spray on the way i ordered because of rhe reviews. This will be a very irregular thing for now so I’m hoping this set up will work. Also plan on getting a sander. I wouldn’t push it too hard.

  19. Tony. I have painted 3 custom paint jobs with a DeWalt 30gal compressor by adding a 10 gal tank plumbed inline with the DeWalt with no problems. Plenty of volume and with the DeWalt having a 150psi run pressure I even run a d-a off of this setup. I have used ATOM-X guns for years without a problem. Keep them clean and they’ll shoot fine time and time again
    Keep one just for clear and use a 2nf one for base coats, Pearls and Flakes.


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