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Thread: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

  1. #26
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Is there any make or model of a portaband that will cut down 6 inches? I like the log splitter idea to bend it but will it be able to get all the way around once it gets past 180 degrees? It also looks like in the picture that there's a backer that goes all the way around the spiral. I would assume that's what the dots are in the center of the beam segments?

  2. #27
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by ferrret3238 View Post
    Is there any make or model of a portaband that will cut down 6 inches? I like the log splitter idea to bend it but will it be able to get all the way around once it gets past 180 degrees? It also looks like in the picture that there's a backer that goes all the way around the spiral. I would assume that's what the dots are in the center of the beam segments?
    Not that I know of. Mine goes down to a bit over 5", so I'll have a lot of manual sawing to get the last 1/4" or so.

    Once I know if it will bend as I hope (or can deal with), the plan is as follows:

    *Strip all the zinc
    *Make all the cuts
    *Start with the narrow slices and bend to shape.

    I think doing the bends in that sequence, I'll avoid getting jammed into an inaccessible curve.

    I'm hoping to start stripping the coating off tonight so I can do a test cut and bend to see what I get.

  3. #28
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    Not that I know of. Mine goes down to a bit over 5", so I'll have a lot of manual sawing to get the last 1/4" or so.

    Once I know if it will bend as I hope (or can deal with), the plan is as follows:

    *Strip all the zinc
    *Make all the cuts
    *Start with the narrow slices and bend to shape.

    I think doing the bends in that sequence, I'll avoid getting jammed into an inaccessible curve.

    I'm hoping to start stripping the coating off tonight so I can do a test cut and bend to see what I get.
    Research F-bar. Blacksmiths use them. i have several different sizes. You can make a large on for your specific.purpose. I have a 3.foot long set made from 1.25" pipe I use for twisting. A long handle will give you a bunch of leverage.

    Why strip all zinc? Looks? If health related wear proper ppe .throw clothes away if really concerned?
    Last edited by tapwelder; 05-28-2020 at 03:23 PM.

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  5. #29
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    Research F-bar. Blacksmiths use them. i have several different sizes. You can make a large on for your specific.purpose. I have a 3.foot long set made from 1.25" pipe I use for twisting. A long handle will give you a bunch of leverage.

    Why strip all zinc? Looks? If health related wear proper ppe .throw clothes away if really concerned?
    Man, I thought I was a pretty googler, but I'll be darned if I can pull up a pic of an f-bar.

    Luckily, the name says it all and I have a pretty good picture in mind of what it is and how to use it - because as you'll see in my next post - it's EXACTLY what I will need for this!

    As far as the stripping the zinc, I like the rust patina better than painting. Everyone has warned me about the zinc chills, so I want to be careful. Everything I've read says it isn't dangerous, just can make you feel like crap for a few days with no lingering health issues to worry about.

  6. #30
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    I was having a bad day and needed to take a break, so I geared up to do a quick cut and bend test on the beam - the curiosity of what I'm in for me was killing as well.

    I wore a mask and had pretty much everything on me covered when I used a flapper disc to clean off the zinc where I'd be working. Next I hand held the portaband and made the first cut at the 1" mark and went down as far as I could go. As I had only marked the top, the cut was slightly crooked - in the future I'll have both sides marked all the way down the web. I used the 18 tooth blade already on it at 350FPM with cutting oil, but it wanted to grab and catch. A little squirrely but manageable.

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    That's as far as the saw could take me, so I tried a cutoff wheel in the dremel, and it worked to cut the rest of the web surprisingly well. I did not make the score line on the bottom flange at this time - I wanted to see how it bent without it.

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    Using an 8" prybar I was able to easily spread the cut apart, but the uncut flange wasn't bending - the web seemed to be.

    I then took a pipe wrench and clamped onto the uncut flange as close to the web as I could and gave it a few shots - wasn't really bending as I wanted. As another test, I took the portaband and scored the outside flat of the bottom flange just a touch, less than 1/8". That seemed to be the ticket, this time with the pipe wrench I was getting the flange to bend.

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    Realizing I wouldn't be able to use a wrench like this on the rest of the bends, I started trying to figure out what tool could grab the flange on the side and with enough leverage let me bend each cut as I progressed through the length of the beam.

    And along comes TapWelder to save the day with the F-Bar tip. Even though I can't find a picture of one - I'm pretty sure what it is, and will be able to make one easily for my project.

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    This weekend I'll do test #2:
    • Saw cut with a new, courser tooth blade
    • Mark the cut line all the way down on both sides
    • Put the beam on the ground and off the jack stands to cut (oops)
    • Use the dremel to cut a score line on the inside flat of the flange
    • Make an appropriately sized f-bar tool or two to bend with
    • Bend the beam and see how it comes out.


    This is going to be a long process but when I work slow and don't push myself too hard - I think I'm on track for a fairly successful effort.

  7. #31
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    But if someone has a pic or two of an F-Bar, I'd be greatly appreciative if you posted it!

    EDIT:

    "Bending Fork" - I knew if I could find the right keyword I'd get it lol...

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    Last edited by Shootr; 05-28-2020 at 07:25 PM.

  8. #32
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    I would jam in a wedge when making the cut. Better yet make up several as a lot of the bending can be done with wedges.

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  10. #33
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Today's test went much better - kind of...

    Started by trying to make a couple of bending bars out of 1/8" scrap angle iron and 1/2" steel rod. Thought I was welding effectively but my first try I could snap the end rod off of each one:
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    Turned the wire feed speed down, cleaned up the area, and the second try stuck much better:
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    Next I wanted to see if I would be able to use the home made chop saw frame - it works great, but I have to stop and start to move the beam around to clear various parts of the saw frame. But it got down pretty far and mostly straight. Using a wedge once the flange was cut through did help, thanks again for the valuable tip - 18 tooth blade with lots of cuts on it already glided thru like butter.
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    To finish the cut, I first tried a cut off wheel in the angle grinder - it worked OK but again I have to really pay attention to keep it straight when cutting down for the bend score line. I did use the dremel to get into the web/flange joint to cut it down as best I could. I still didn't cut quite deep enough, but it did bend as I wanted.
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    The bender bars are strong enough that they started to bend up the corners of the flange while the cut and flange didn't budge.

    The last things I need to fine tune is how to finish the cut and a way to more easily keep the beam plumb and square as I reposition it several times throughout the cut. I'm going to buy some metal blades for the jigsaw and the sawzall - between the two I'm hoping they will allow me to finish the cut without using cut off wheels.

  11. #34
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    You need to practice your welding some, maybe a lot, more and I think you would save yourself a lot of hassle and frustration by building it the same way the original was, in individual pieces. If you had a steel table you could draw the layout and line all your pieces up. Flanges would all be straight and not distorted from trying to bend them. The edges would be flat and line up on both sides. I think your making the project a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

  12. #35
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    No ifs, ands, or buts - I need a lot of practice. I also need a real welder vs my HF flux core unit, a dedicated welding table, bigger bandsaw, and a shop to put it all in.

    These projects are my practice - I learn a lot doing them and if I happen to end up with something I like, it's a bonus.

    Welding without warping is another challenge for me. At my skill level, pretty sure cutting and bending may give a better result than trying 40 symmetrical welds.

  13. #36
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Cutting individual pieces would be a lot easier to follow a pattern. You could lay it out on the floor if need be. Lots of fabrications have been laid out on the shop floor.

  14. #37
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Drill holes for round stock and weld on backside too. It will take more abuse.


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  16. #38
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Wear eye and face protection if you use a jig saw or recip. Both violently throw large hot particles with force. Cover hands and arm may be desired, depending on your rhythm and how much you like dancing.

    Good luck with your project. I look forward to the final results.

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  18. #39
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

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    Made all the cuts today. Used the bandsaw and got all but one pretty straight - darn saw started to walk and I wasn't watching close enough.

    Finished the cuts with a 24tpi sawzall blade. This also worked pretty good - I tried to really slow down and pay attention. A lot of chattering and vibration towards the end from the beam flexibility.

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    It's pretty bendy as is, so forming it to shape isn't going to be a problem. Now I'm kind of wondering if it will be "springy" when finished. Done for today, I want to be fresh and rested when I start the final step.

  19. #40
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    What portaband to you have ? The later Milwaukees have a guide with opening for blade. Older saws had a single foot.
    The wider guide does a nicer job


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  20. #41
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by BD1 View Post
    What portaband to you have ? The later Milwaukees have a guide with opening for blade. Older saws had a single foot.
    The wider guide does a nicer job


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    Good ol' HF...I bought it when I sold my first piece of "art" - a M134 minigun replica. Another person on here shared some pics and drawings of a chop saw stand so I made a version of it last week.

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  21. #42
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Time to try the bending...

    Seems to be a pretty fine line to not cutting enough and cutting too much. Mostly didn't cut enough initially so I had the sawzall at the ready and fine tuned each cut. I used a prybar to initially open up each cut, then the bender bars to get to the desired angle. The bender bars didn't work too well - they put the leverage in the wrong place.

    I took a piece of angle iron and notched the corner - it worked the best once the cut was opened up far enough.

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    Lessons learned at this juncture include: bending the big angles without heat probably not the best idea - I needed 45 degrees for the first bend, but by 35 degrees the flange kind of looked like it wanted to crack. I cracked the web on the second piece while trying to bend - it'll need to be cut off, the flange bent to the correct angle, and the web welded back on.

    As I keep saying - all these bumps in the road are teaching me practical lessons, or at least where my ability limits are currently .
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  23. #43
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Don't pick on yourself, it's a long learning curve. I always forget that I started this stuff as compulsory after hours maintenance work for the family construction company... at 12-13 years of age.

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  25. #44
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    It is getting there.

    As you are finding out, scoring the flange is pretty much going to be required.

    As BD1 mentioned, your bending bars or "F" with the round bar will work better if you drill a hole through the angle, pass the rods through, then weld the other side. You may need the rods to be longer and larger as you proceed so the angle clears the outside of the beam.
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  27. #45
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    It is coming along.

    The bending bars have limits when the radius gets tight. If you have tubing that will fit over the pins it may allow you to get tighter bends and allow you do put leverage where you want. As they are the bars will be more useful as you move outward. As mentioned I have several.

    I agree, it is teaching valuable lessons.

    When I bend smooth/continuous... I feel it in my hands, rather than see it. Yet you are dealing with an discrete part and you will probably need to see the bend on that tight are.

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  29. #46
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by psacustomcreations View Post
    It is getting there.

    As you are finding out, scoring the flange is pretty much going to be required.

    As BD1 mentioned, your bending bars or "F" with the round bar will work better if you drill a hole through the angle, pass the rods through, then weld the other side. You may need the rods to be longer and larger as you proceed so the angle clears the outside of the beam.
    I think as I get to the wider pieces, I have a feeling (ok, hope) that it will get a little easier.

    Is angle iron a good material to make F bars out of? Next time around, what thickness do you think - and what bar diameter? Drilling holes to pass the bar through should be easy enough. Or is there another design more rookie-builder-friendly?

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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    It is coming along.

    The bending bars have limits when the radius gets tight. If you have tubing that will fit over the pins it may allow you to get tighter bends and allow you do put leverage where you want. As they are the bars will be more useful as you move outward. As mentioned I have several.

    I agree, it is teaching valuable lessons.

    When I bend smooth/continuous... I feel it in my hands, rather than see it. Yet you are dealing with an discrete part and you will probably need to see the bend on that tight are.
    As I was getting into it today, that's how things progressed - eyeballing and just feeling what the metal was doing, or wanted to do, or DIDN'T want to do. With the notched bar it was really apparent, could feel as each bend started to move and where. Keeping things straight was actually one of the easier parts.

  31. #48
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    I think as I get to the wider pieces, I have a feeling (ok, hope) that it will get a little easier.

    Is angle iron a good material to make F bars out of? Next time around, what thickness do you think - and what bar diameter? Drilling holes to pass the bar through should be easy enough. Or is there another design more rookie-builder-friendly?
    Angle is great for that f bar. If you have some 1/4"2" or 1/4"1-1/2" angle it qpuld be fine. The pins can be 1/2"-3/4" round bar or whatever you can find.
    Drill the hole through then weld the backside.
    It looks like your welds were cold. There was very little fusion. That is why they peeled off. Increase heat and weld.
    Or you could get some big bolts, cut the heas off and put nuts on both sides of the angle.
    If you slide some pipe over the pins to give you more reach once you get farther along you will lose some space between the pins so take that into account.

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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    HF Porta-band and a large Snap-On toolbox... What's going on there?

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  34. #50
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    Re: Nautilus out of an I-Beam - Questions on Bending

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    HF Porta-band and a large Snap-On toolbox... What's going on there?
    I was a dealer in eastern Arizona for a lot of years - that was a trade in box that I kept for myself. First KRL I came across with the side cabinet built in, not added on - that was part of the reason the owner got such a great deal on his new Plum Crazy Purple top/bottom replacement box.

    Since I don't make a living with my tools, I now steer toward more budget friendly tools when possible. I'd never trust their hand tools for longevity, but no denying some things are a pretty good bang for the buck. I picked up the $20 HF sawzall 10 years ago for a railroad tie project, cut a whole mess of them, and 10 years of other stuff - I can't kill that thing.

    That's the other thing that will become apparent the longer I'm allowed to hang around here - I can be a cheap sob, always looking for the best value when I can. As I get a feel for the basics of welding, a name brand mig welder will be the next purchase - I think I've pushed the HF flux core past even my feeble skill level...

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