Sharing some pictures and techniques I use for dent repair so one can achieve a finish without the need for body filler. Yes you can repair damaged metal without plastic body filler or lead. It simply takes nothing but some hand tools and a little knowledge and you can have a metal finished panel.
When I first took these pictures I hosted them on a now non functioning site, so some of the pictures are a combination of two different fenders. I had to piece together what was left.
Alright, first you should begin with clean bare steel preferably on both sides. If any undercoating is on the back side you must remove it, you can not work the metal with undercoating in the way.
The fender is off my 1949 Chevy truck coating cover must of the fender. I had these fenders media blasted.
Now I do not like working on panels flopping around or laying on stands. Doing this type of work requires the part being held in place firmly so I made a stand to hold the fenders in place as I work them. The stand moves in/out and up/down. Using the wood backer allows me to bolt the fender solidly. Shows the backside and how the fender is held to the stand.
Now one trick I learned at helping locate all the damage is to coat the metal with a magic marker. You are basically guide coating the metal just like you guide coat primer, it shows all the highs and lows. I like to use a Magnum Magic marker because the tip is about ½ inch wide and found at office depot for about 3 bucks. They last pretty long. Coat the entire surface of the panel.
You can also use spray layout fluid or dykem. I just like the marker. But the layout fluid does leave a nice sheen on the metal so you can look at and visually check the progress.
Spray dykem applied, notice the glossy sheen on the fender. Try both and make your own decision, sometimes the marker is best others the dykem works better.