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I'm starting a 65 Vert restoration. I know a few body panels will need to be replaced. I've read quite a bit on drilling out spot welds to remove bad panels, but my question is, how do I weld on new panels? I was guessing to drill a 1/4" hole thru new panel at each original spot weld location, and weld panels together at each hole, then grind welds flush. Am I correct?? Any general advice? Thanks in advance.
 

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I was guessing to drill a 1/4" hole thru new panel at each original spot weld location, and weld panels together at each hole, then grind welds flush.

I drill 3/8" holes and clamp the panel tight. Use weld-thru primer where the metal joins.
 

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Basically your corrrect. Your doing what I learned was called a button weld. There may be different names for them. You don't have to do the holes ( I would drill a 3/8" hole) in the same spots of the original. Unless your trying to be as correct as possible. The spot welds were not computer controlled. Humans did them by hand. So each car is a little different. Make sure you use a welding primer paint ( you can get it from your local welding shop) so you don't get rust all over again.
I suggest you go to a body shop and ask for some scrap pieces of car body. Start practicing on the scap metal. You will be able to figure out what size hole ( 1/4" or 3/8") your getting the best "spot weld" with . After your happy making button hole spot welds then cut them apart to make sure your getting good penatration of your weld. You don't want to find out after the project is done that your weld technique sucked.
If your going to butt weld the sheet metal then Harbor Freight sells the butt weld clamps at a good price. They also have of the magnets and clamps you'lll need at cheap prices.
My opinion is to buy a auto dimming welding helmet. My welding improved 300% with the auto dimming helmet.
If you plan on trying to wear your welder out in the next 3 months. Buy a good auto dimming helmet. One with a 1/5000th of a second dimming rate. If your going to be a weekend warrior the $79 ( when on sale) Harbor Freight unit will do fine.
Remember the arc produced by the welder Has a high UV ray output. Thats the reason for the helmet and the reason you want to cover yourself up completely. Any exposed skin will be sun burned after your first time at welding.
Use the helmet, gloves, longsleeve shirt, long pants, BOOTS not slip-on shoes, the spark will find its way into any opening and burn you. Don't ask how I know, one 1/2 inch hole in my jeans and the spark found it. It was a 3rd degree burn, small but it hurt.
Buy a good book on welding and follow the safety recommendations. My Lincoln -Electric unit came with a great video. The Lincoln-electric site has some great training articles and videos
Dave
 

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Following some good sugestions on the other posts I'll add this:

When doing body panels we used to use a tool called a "Cleco fastener" to hold the joints tight for welding. On a lap joint you can do a very good job with those little self drilling/self tapping screws that have the hex bolt head. Buy a magnetic socket that chucks into your cordless drill and you can screw these right through the sheetmetal when it is properly aligned. If you pull these in every 3 or 4 inches along a joint you can button weld the 3/8 or 1/4 inch holes all the way down the weld line and then remove them with the socket on the drill. Then just tack the little holes shut and you have a great joint that is tight.
 
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