Vote proposal for tubing bender

Given the weather getting better and getting some good use out of the welders for all sorts of projects and repairs. I am putting up a vote for 200 bucks to get a 16ton at least bender that will do .5 inch to 3 inch. It technically id 170 bucks however I have a 20% coupon to use on it however where going to see what deals hegs, summitt, or eastwood are running.

I have do design/modify an electric wheelchair to help a father be able to attend outdoor sporting events for his kids as well as get out on vacation with his wife. I will have to do some chassis building for it so I have to buy one no matter what. It the vote clears, awesome, if not lol I will still pick one up on my own dime. It takes up very little room and can quick attach to the welfing table.

Here is the link

I support this.

The HF bender will need stiffening and adjustment, but the cost is same as building a tube bender from scratch.


--3d printed PLA has crazy compressive strength. Could make dies this way...


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Original Message

I vote yes

Some discussion of this was had at last week’s meeting, but we’d like to see further commentary.

For my part, I think I’d get some use out of it even though I mostly work with square tubing. From what little reading I’ve done, that may be a matter of making or buying additional dies.

Better benders seem to add a digit to the price, so this seems a reasonable compromise.

  • Ry

After getting lost watching YouTube product reviews for a while, I think I’d be in favor of a more capable bender. Something along the lines of

I’m not opposed to a pipe bender, but it seems like getting smooth bends with it might be quite difficult.

More experienced opinions are very welcome.

  • Ry

The one put up for a vote is more of a heavy duty for doing 1/2 inch up to 3 inch. I have made decent bends in the past by filling the pipe with sand so it loads pressure more evenly. I picked one up from harbor freight last night and am going to cgeck it out today. The one i listed comes with most dies in half inch increments. The concept of this one can be used on square tube as well with some dies made up and relief cuts put in the tube. I see this as more of a if someone wants to making a vehicle exhaust, makerfaire fabrication, adding framework for bicycle or, etc.

The Eastwood one is awesome for small diamater bar stock and into tubing as well but at a diamater of less than a half inch. I have got to use one very similar for doing linkage as well as d rings out at the airport. Both would be pretty dang useful for repair as well as fabrication.

To get a bender that will do really clean bends via mandrel bent and they even have cnc benders :slight_smile: . We would be looking at thousands. I am going to play with the harbor freight one tomorrow as its freaking snowing right now which is my luck. I am making my own exhsust to replace a $800 piece for about 60 bucks in materials.

I am picking up a new argon tank tomorrow the same size as the one i brought to the hive. I am hoping that matherson will work something out on testing and refilling my big #6 tank down there to feed both welders at the hive. If the vote doesn’t go, I have no problem with just hanging on the the bender as there are a few welding projects I have going, including the offroad wheel chair.

Kevin, I’d like to hear how your test bends went with the HF bender. The sand trick or a coil spring insert both help hold the round section, but the tighter the bend radius, the more metal there is to buckle and stretch.
My experience in the bike business taught how to do amazing bends in ductile steel tubes with good dies and sufficient power. That said, it’s a bit of an art getting a process dialed in. You can make a lot of setup scrap.

For that reason, I would not support a manual tubing bender like the eastwood or KAKA. A) It needs to be anchored to an immovable base B) You need a long lever, lots of room and human umph to bend anything of size. C) Spring back makes repeatability and control an issue.

If we vote to get something for the HIVE, I’d propose to buy or make a hydraulic press that could both bend tubing and sheet metal. It would need to have a pair of side columns like this example.

Most of the 20 ton presses have a single side column which would limit the length of tubing to bend. An open gap leaves room for the tubing to move like the HF bender originally proposed.

To bend sheet metal, a bending die like this could be fitted

This could be a nice HIVE build project if we aren’t in a hurry.

To make much in the way of round tube frames we would also need a notcher for tube ends to meet up with round frame sections. Or do a heck of a lot of grinding. Ugh. Repeatability again.


The bender did what I neeeded it to with putting 35* or so to make an off set to run along the exhaust tunnel of the car. I have to stop and grab some flanges tomorrow to finish bolting it all in. For being a manual hydraulic bender it only gave me a minor bit of wrinkle as I did not put in relief cuts. I was mainly working with 2.5 diamater stainless pipie and went a lot faster than pie cutting and piecing together.

Getting a good mandrel hydraulic bender would be awesome however I do not know if the floor could handle the weight of one. I threw the one listed up on a bench grinder stand to see what kind of clearance it had and it did ok.

Ryan - the link you tossed up for a nice manual leverage bender would be extremely nice for 1/2 tube/bar stock and smaller. Seeing both are not to far off in price… either of them would be nice. Being able to get accurate bends on smaller tube has just as many positives and uses as the big bender. If we go electric pump hydraulic down the road that bender would be awesome for laying out accurate rigid lines for that especially.

Main reason for throwing up the idea for the bender I did is if someone has to replace a flex pipe, catalytic converter, muffler, etc on their vehicle it is extremely cheap given most pieces can be made for EXTREMELY cheap vs buying a whole new section to bolt in. Getting quoted 500 to a thousand plus to put a new cat on the vehicle vs making your own section for 75 bucks is a nice option to have, especially on older vehicles. Or if someone wants to put a nice flowmaster / magnaflow system on a vehicle for better tone and performance it makes things much easier.

Dave -

One thing I noticed in researching this style of manual bender is that hydraulic conversion kits are available. Does that appreciably change the game?

  • Ry