Home made tube bender & dies
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  1. #1
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    Home made tube bender & dies

    Building your own tubing dies has been brought up quite a bit. I thought I'd give it a shot. The credit for the know-how goes to my dad though. He has quite a bit of sandcasting experience and has walked me through this so far.

    I'm building a JD2 type bender. The parts are drawn up, and I'll be cutting them out on the laser at work. Hopefully I'll get that done this week. I was going to just buy dies, but my dad talked me into trying this. He has been wanting to pull out his furnace, and I've been wanting to learn sandcasting. At the very least this will be a learning experience, and some quality time with dad.

    The die will be cast in two pieces and bolted together. I have gotten as far as making the pattern for a 1 1/2" die. This was suprisingly easy. I spent maybe 3 hours goofing off in the shop.


    First I cut the radius' out of wood. The larger one is 3/8" thick and has a 4.5" radius. The smaller is 3/4" thick and 3.75" radius. These two pieces were glued together.
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    Then I made a nice fillet with bondo around the circumference.

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    I took a piece of 1 1/2" tube and glued a piece of 80 grit to it. This made a perfect sanding stick to sand the bondo. After about 5 minutes of sanding I was done. Here's the fitup pic.

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    The die will be attached to the match plate on the right. On the left is the flask that will be used to make the mold.

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    I may be wrong, but I don't forsee any major problems with an aluminum die. The pivot hole in the die will get a steel bushing to help keep it round. Hopefully this will work out, if not I'll just buy dies.
    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  2. #2
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Here's a pic of the furnace. My dad built this about 20 years ago. It hasn't been used in probably 10 years. It needs a little TLC, but it's still in good working order. I hope to put it to use next weekend. With little league baseball cutting into my free time I may be delayed, but with luck I'll be able to squeeze this in.
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    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  3. #3
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Keep up the picts. I haven't done any casting in years and would kill for your furnace. Ok, maybe just maim. I wondered how you were going the make the filet. I would have thought about the router first, but I've done similar things with bondo in the past. It made complete sense as soon as I saw the pict.
    Looks good. I wouldn't have thought about casting the die but again it makes sence. I would think you could cast it as one piece if you gave it some thought.

  4. #4
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I originally thought about casting it in one piece. The pattern and moldmaking would have gotten kind of complicated though. Another small issue is that the die is 9" diameter and 2 1/4" thick. I'm not sure the crucible will hold that much aluminum. 2 pieces seemed simple enough.

    My plan is to drill the holes, tap one half and countersink the other half. That way I won't have any bolts/nuts sticking up.


    A router crossed my mind too. The problem is that I just don't have any woodworking tools. woodworking is almost a bad word around here.
    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  5. #5
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    Jan 2006
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Good stuff Joe!

    Keep us informed..

    ...zap!


    I am not completely insane..
    Some parts are missing

    Professional Driver on a closed course....
    Do not attempt.

    Just because I'm a dumbass don't mean that you can be too.
    So DON'T try any of this **** l do at home.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I think that a cast aluminum die will wear really fast.
    Have we all gone mad?

  7. #7

    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I have an EZ bender from ToolsPlus1, and it has cast aluminum dies. I have used the chit out of it, and its still fine. By looking at it, you can see that they sand cast the rough shape of the die, then machine the channel. Ill post a pic.
    Miller Syncrowave 200
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    E-Z Tube Bender
    Plasma Cam DHC2

  8. #8

    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Ok, here are a couple of pics of my 1" tube die.







    I think there is a misconception that if its not forged, its not strong. Take a look at all the stuff in your engine bay that is cast. A whole lot of heating and cooling, vibrations, and just plain abuse that goes on in there, but it works.
    Miller Syncrowave 200
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    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 38
    E-Z Tube Bender
    Plasma Cam DHC2

  9. #9
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I think it'll be ok, I've been wrong before. The only areas that I'm worried will wear are the pin holes. I'm hoping that steel bushings will help.

    This is for hobby stuff anyway, it's not gonna be used on a daily basis.

    If for some reason it doesn't work out I can buy dies and have no regrets.
    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    16

    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Aluminum will wold up fine depending on how much you use it. The biggest draw back is if you have something stuck to a tube, when you bend it it will embed into the aluminum and can leave marks in future bends.

  11. #11
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    HEY..... THIS is a very good post, thanks for the learn. Something new to add to my book. Nothing I'd try alone but very interesting pics and info. Thanks
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  12. #12
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Joe, I am watching this thread very closely- you have my total attention. Thank you for posting this, it looks amazing.
    And then, after so much work...... you have it in your hand, and you look over to your side...... and the runner has run off. Leaving you holding the prize, wondering when the runner will return.

  13. #13
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    Dec 2004
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Yup, thanks for the pics, I'm jumping in just to stay up to date with the project.
    If you don't want to stand behind our Troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

  14. #14
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Joe,

    Definitely put steel bushings on the holes. Plain home-cast aluminum will be soft and will wear too fast on the holes. After all the effort to make the pattern and cast and assemble the die, I wouldn't want to have to recast the die again too soon just because the first one wore out fast.

    Nice job with your Bondo fillet. You could get a router bit to cut the fillet for 1-1/2 inch tube for about $25 on-line, but for anything bigger in fillet/tube size I think would have to be custom ($$) and/or tough to find. And a s-l-o-w strong router for the big diameter cutter.

  15. #15
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Well, I didn't manage to make alot of progress this week. We're busy at work, and my son had baseball tournaments going on.

    I did get a few minutes to finish sanding, and shoot some primer on the pattern. I also cut up a honda engine for donor metal.

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    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  16. #16
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe H View Post
    I also cut up a honda engine for donor metal.
    NICE!!!! This thread is great- I love how it is so different than any other thread I have ever seen here. We always wonder... how is it done, where do they make that.....this is how it starts. And, for the Honda engine, how it ends!!!
    And then, after so much work...... you have it in your hand, and you look over to your side...... and the runner has run off. Leaving you holding the prize, wondering when the runner will return.

  17. #17
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Thanks. This is a learning experience for me too. My dad has done lots of casting, but I was only a kid the last time he used that furnace. I'm finding it all very interesting, so I thought I'd try to share as much detail as possible.

    A whole new world is opening up in my mind.
    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  18. #18
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    Feb 2008
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I have long waited to see someone cast a die. With dies so expensive, I wonder why people aren't doing this. Keep the pics coming, Joe!!


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    122

    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Very cool idea and project. These are the things that can make you a pretty good chunk of change on the side! Do not close your eyes to the opportunity. If the normal dies are 200, and you charge 100 each; you could make some decent change.

    I have been doing these things with Corvettes for the last 9years and have funded all my racing, welding and many other things. Get a nitch your good at and enjoy making money and its a win/win situation. There will be those that try to knock you down for doing it, but just stay the course and ignore the ignorant ones.

    Very cool project you have going there.

    I did some sand casting at College (PSU Mechanical engineering) when I was attending engineering classes, but can't remember anything but having a bad hang-over for this class every Friday morning.

    So how do you put the model you made into the sand, and create the cavity that you pour the molten material into? I know they use foam that disolves and that makes sense to me, but the wood will not disolve...the same way. Can you explain this to me.

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  20. #20
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I like the work, I especially like the home make forge. I was looking at your die and was thinking that it looks allot like a electrical EMT bender. Could you adapt a bender to make the die? for example I know you can pick up benders for fairly cheap and I am sure it could be converted some how...

    I have always had to make things work with no money or very little material, so using one item to do a similar job comes up allot.

    Keep posting pics, great stuff.
    "I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way."

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  21. #21
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I didn't get to make any progress this week either. Too dang busy.

    skidwnit, What I am doing is old-fashioned sandcasting. The pattern will be attached to the matchplate in the pic above. The flask is placed on top of the matchplate, filled with sand, and packed. Then I'll flip the flask over, fill the other half of the flask with sand around the sprue (where you pour in the molten al) pattern and vents. Then remove the sprue and vent patterns, remove the top half of the flask, remove the matchplate and pattern. The two halves of the flask are then put back together and filled with molten aluminum.

    There is a little more to it than that, I'll post details when I get that far.

    As for selling them... Nah... Although if it works out well and anyone here wants one I would be willing to pour them one for cheap, as it will be an easy task. All the drilling for the pivot holes and drilling/tapping to attach the two halves will be up to them though.

    I'm pretty sure that EMT has different O.D.'s than tubing. At any rate, making the pattern was extremely easy, likely easier than adapting anything.

    I'll try to make some time for this during the following week. We've been working late, even had to work saturday. On top of that, my son's been playing in every local baseball tournament. It's hard to find time.
    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  22. #22
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I too am looking forward to seeing your progress and results...
    I own a furnace and sandcasting equipment as well, and if your dies turn out nicely, then I believe that I'll take the time and attempt what you are doing.

    Will you be pouring into green sand, petro bond, or someother casting sand product ?

    Cheers !

    Graham
    -Graham-
    Mechanical Engineer
    Autosport Mechanic/Fabricator

  23. #23
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    I don't know the commercial name of the sand I have. I've got a 50 gallon carboard drum full of oiled black sand. It came from a friend of dad's at a local foundry. It is some really nice, fine stuff.
    Miller Econotig
    Cutmaster 38

    Yes ma'am, that IS a screwdriver in my pocket!

  24. #24
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Alright! it's time to get the priorities straight. Personal stuff first, real job second. LOL!
    Can't wait to see how it turns out.
    "Every choice you make will effect at least one other person"

  25. #25
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    Feb 2008
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    Re: Home made tube bender & dies

    Any updates, Joe?

    I was in your neck of the woods today. I took my family for a day trip to Chattanooga. It had been 25 years since I had been there and for my wife and kids, it was their first trip. Around 5pm, there was an crash involving multiple vehicles and what looked to be an overturned crane on the westbound side of I-24.

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