In this module, we’re going to explore reading and removing dents in an open area. This involves being able to utilize your light and shadows to pinpoint the depth of a given dent. But it doesn’t stop there! You also have to become comfortable locating your tool tip when it’s underneath the surface where you can’t see it. Like any skill, this requires a little practice. You have to learn the feel of your tool tip and the subtle variations in how much pressure to apply. As you become comfortable with these techniques, we’ll explore some advanced techniques to help take you even further! 


In this exercise, we’ll practice reading shadows and removing dents. We’ll actually have the opportunity to create a dent using a simple trick with a tennis ball! It’s just an ordinary tennis ball that you can pick up from a nearby super center or sporting goods store. 

Items Needed

To get started, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Hood Stand 

  • Dent Light 

  • Automobile Hood 

  • Bungee Cords/Ratchet Straps

  • S-Hook or Panel Lever

  • Dent Hammer and Knockdown Tool 

  • Dent Rod 

  • Tennis Ball

  • Large Screwdriver

  • Duct Tape

Part 1: Create the Dent

To begin, we first need to make some nice easy round dents for us to remove.


Puncture a small hole in a tennis ball; insert the large screwdriver into the hole, then use the duct tape to secure it together.


Locate an open area of the hood where there are no braces underneath. Hold on to the handle of the screwdriver and gently strike the tennis ball onto the open area, just once.

Dent from tennis ball strike

Now look at the dent you have made, and it should look similar to the image above. Before we can begin to remove this dent, we must form a plan of attack with respect to where exactly we need to push to remove this dent. As we realized by doing our high spot exercises, only a very small amount of metal area actually gets lifted when we apply pressure to it with the tool. Knowing that, we now realize that even a dent that is as small as a dime in diameter must be removed with pushes from more than one part of the dent.

Part 2: Read the Shadows

Using the image below for reference, make sure you have your dent light placement just like this. Remember, if you have the bright line in the dent you will not see it correctly, it will “wash out”. As you look closely at the dent in the light you will notice that the front half of the dent is shadowed, and the back side is bright. You should also notice the “line” where these two areas meet; the bright and the shadowed, is the deepest part of the dent.  This is vitally important; this is the first spot you want to push. This is also what we refer to as reading the shadows.


The line is where the shadow and bright area meet. It is the deepest part of the dent and the first spot you want to push.


The front half of the dent is shadowed.


The back side of the dent is bright.

From this point forward try your best to not have “Tunnel Vision”, meaning, look at the big picture not just pinpointing in the center of the dent looking for your tool tip. If you do, you can easily miss where your tool is and create unwanted high spots outside the dented area.

Part 3: Locate Your Tool Tip


Start with your tool tip about a ½ inch outside of the dented area on either side, your choice left or right.  Apply pressure slowly and lightly until you see the tip slightly protruding but not hard enough to make the metal stay high. 



Now that you know exactly where the tip is, ease off your pressure and move slightly towards the dent. Again, apply pressure and slowly and lightly until you see the tip slightly protruding. Continue this until you reach the deepest spot in the dent.


Part 4: Apply Pressure


Once you have successfully found the tip in the dent at the deepest point, slowly and gently apply pressure to bring the spot up. Depending on the depth of the dent you may not be able to move this first spot above level and you will have to do this in stages.


Now that you have moved the first spot, determine via the contrasting shades which is now the deepest spot. Move to that spot and repeat the push process. Continue repeating this process until the dent is inverted into a smooth “dome”.


At this point you will use your knock down to gently tap the highs down, leveling the area out.

Advanced Scanning

Repeat this exercise at least 10 times
with a new dent each time.

Module E

Great Work!

You are well on your way to achieving effective results! Learning Paintless Dent Repair takes dedication, hard work, and commitment. Here are a few words from our founder and president, Todd Sudeck.

Please Complete the Lessons Below in Order to Proceed

Click on ‘Show What You Know!’ and  ‘Knowledge Check’ below then mark each complete in order to proceed in the training.