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Tubing bender recommendation

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Tubing bender recommendation

Old 10-06-14, 01:19 PM
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Don Marco 
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Tubing bender recommendation

I've got my hands on a TIG welder and want to play around with building some touring racks, beer holders, whatever. Can anyone point me in the direction of a decent tubing bender with a changeable radius die?

And I'm taking stabs at terminology here, work with me
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Old 10-06-14, 03:42 PM
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unterhausen
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there really isn't such a thing in an inexpensive bender with interchangeable dies. Larger radius bends can be made using a pulley and some care. Pics on flickr if you search for rack building

the cheapest thing you can purchase that has interchangeable dies is this Imperial bender set: LINK
they show up on ebay all the time, I'm sure the retail price is breath-taking


The ridgid/parker benders are good for fixed radius, don't get a fixed radius Imperial. Also don't get the ridgid that have a handle that looks like an adjustable wrench, it's not hard to find broken ones on ebay. The ridgid benders are like this: LINK
406 is 3/8" and 404 is 1/4" They also sell the 600 series that have a tighter radius, which are probably the same as the much-desired Swagelok benders. Parker benders look pretty much identical, and they have the same two series of benders. I think that kind of bender is very useful, and reasonably priced on ebay

I have a 1/4" Swagelok, I find the radius too small for most situations
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Old 10-06-14, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
there really isn't such a thing in an inexpensive bender with interchangeable dies.
Thanks a lot for all that information. I've got a ridgid on order now. I had been thinking of the wrong approach all along.

Again- thanks.
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Old 10-07-14, 10:03 AM
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I have the 300 series Ridgids. Pretty cheap on eBay and they do the job. I didn't know they were susceptible to breaking. Mine have help up fine on 0.035 wall cromo.
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Old 10-07-14, 10:54 AM
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I have one too, for 3/8" tubing, probably should sell it since I got a 400 series replacement. All I know is that you can really yank on the 400 series and it's not going to break and they go for the same price on ebay. I almost bought a broken bender until I puzzled through why it looked so funny, and I have seen others. The design has an obvious weak spot. And I don't think it's rated for .035" wall. It takes a lot of oomph to bend that with the length of the handles. On 3/8", I usually end up with one of the handles on the floor. The replaceable die Imperial works a lot better on 3/8" tubing since it's made for much stouter tubing than that. But I've never made a die set to get a tight radius, so I use the fixed radius benders for that.
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Old 10-09-14, 04:06 AM
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There's an old post here about tubes and bender from air craft supply catalog. There's did 3 size tubes. 30+ dollars.
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Old 10-09-14, 04:11 AM
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Benders from Aircraft Spruce this was it.
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Old 10-09-14, 08:06 AM
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My first bender was that Imperial AS triple bender. Not strong enough for 3/8x0.035 cromo... It broke.
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Old 10-09-14, 10:22 AM
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and the single size benders at Aircraft Spruce are the problematic Imperial design. They work, but the bend is ugly and the swiveling handle is annoying
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Old 10-09-14, 12:58 PM
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I made both of my own. The die for my first effort for racks was made out of a standard machine pulley. The one I had around was pot metal and it burst after a rack or two. The next one I turned on a lathe, out of hubs designed to hold different sized sprokets, bomb proof. If you use the pulley approach, what I did was use epoxy putty as the interior radius, a popscycle stick is the right radius for shaping. They make steel pulleys, and they are very tough.
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Old 10-09-14, 01:34 PM
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Most of these benders are designed for bending stuff like water pipe or brake lines, which are reasonably soft. Some of the benders are even made of plastic. That is part of the reason why, having bitten the motorcycle bending bullet first, that I decided to make my own bender, or modify.

By the way, tigging racks is harder than in sounds. I almost set myself on fire when I tried to tig my "water bottle" holder for Phil chain oil. The first shot melted away a section of the 3mm I was welding and it set the shop floor on fire, which isn't something one noticed from inside a hood, not at first anyway. For tubing it is easier. Study some racks, they are often directional loaded, and often two straight passes, with ovalization, works better than trying to shoot the whole thing as though it was a frame joint.

Stainless is a good option as it does not require one to paint, and the partial welds will not lead to corrosion. And it is easier to find.

I'm doing brazing from now on, on racks. I prefer to be a master craftsman an use silver rather than messing around with cheap low skill stuff like TIG welding racks. A propane torch works fine.
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Old 10-16-14, 12:27 PM
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Jan at Human Powered machines In Eugene has one that is heavy duty enough to have to be bolted to the concrete floor,

Bends 2" 4130 with it .. you can ask him .. has Mandrel Bending plugs too so the curve stays Round , rather than like shoe benders at the Muffler shops.
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Old 11-01-14, 10:52 PM
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I bend motorbike frame tube in an old Hilmor Builders/electricians pipe bender. They work well, but on some tubes you need to use the straight follower, which they probably use to bend copper pipes. You used to be able to pick these up very easy and cheap from local papers. I got mine with a good range of dies, I think the seller said "the dies are no good mate they are imperial";-)
I recently needed to replace some 1/2" tube stays on a vintage motorbike, the stays wanted a curve
to match a mudguard rather than a radius, So I made a die from laminated plywood, I cut the semicircular
groove with a router, It worked perfectly. I have no idea how tight the bend will go with wood but if I need another odd die I will try a wooden die again.
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Old 11-01-14, 11:44 PM
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For hand bending and rack building I have a set of Rigid 400 series benders that I picked up from a retired instrument technician and they work very well as long you keep things clamped and carbon steel bends a lot easier than aircraft grade chromoly.

Carbon steel tubing is fine to play with, costs less, and you can also build decent racks from it... it is also relatively easy to braze and brass also works fine here and is much less expensive than silver.

The main shop has a floor mounted bender and if we need a die that we don't already have, that can be turned out on the lathe.
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