DIY Roll Bender Keeps it Simple and Sturdy

If you’ve ever tried to bend a metal pipe or bar over your knee, you’ll know that even lightweight stock requires quite a bit of force. And the force needs to be properly directed, lest the smooth bend you seek become a kink or a crease. When your hands and knees no longer fill the bill, try [MakeItExtreme]’s sturdy and simple roll bender.

As we watched the video below, we had a little déjà vu — hadn’t the [MakeItExtreme] crew built a roll bender for their shop before? Turns out they had, but in reviewing that video, we can see why they gave it a second shot. This build is a model of simplicity compared to the previous. With a frame fabricated from just a few pieces of steel I-beam, this version is far more approachable than its big brother and just about as capable. The three forming rollers ride in stout pillow blocks and can be repositioned for different bending radii. A 2-ton hydraulic bottle jack provides the force needed to direct the stock through the rollers, which are manually powered. In a nice touch, the incomplete tool was used to create the rim of the large-diameter handwheel for the drive roller.

The tools keep piling up at [MakeItExtreme]’s open air workshop — we even get a glimpse of their heavy-lift electromagnet that we recently featured. As always, we love the fit and finish on these builds, and watching the time-lapse videos is like a condensed class in metalworking.

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New Lathe Day is Best Day

As [Quinn Dunki] rightly points out, modern industrial civilization was probably conceived on the bed of a lathe. Turning is an essential step in building every machine tool, including lathes, and [Quinn] decided it was time to invite one into her shop. But she discovered a dearth of information to guide the lathe newbie through that first purchase, and thus was born the first installment in her series on choosing and using a new lathe.

As for the specifics of the purchase, [Quinn]’s article goes into some depth on the “old US iron” versus “new Asian manufacture” conundrum. Most of us would love an old South Bend or Cincinnati lathe, but it may raise practical questions about space planning, electrical requirements, and how much work is needed to get the old timer working again. In the end, [Quinn] took the path of least resistance and ordered a new lathe of Chinese heritage. She goes into some detail as to what led to that decision, which should help other first-timers too, and provides a complete account of everything from uncrating to first chips.

Nothing beats the advice of a grizzled vet, but there’s a lot to be learned from someone who’s only a few steps ahead of her intended audience. And once she’s got the lathe squared away, we trust she’ll find our tips for buying a mill helpful getting that next big shipment delivered.

“All the best things in life arrive on a pallet.” Have truer words ever been spoken? Sure, when the UPS truck pulls up with your latest Amazon or eBay treasure, it can be exciting. But a lift-gate truck rolling up to the curb? That’s a good day.

Miniature Cannon Packs a Punch, Shows off Manual Machining Skills

CNC machine tools are getting ever more affordable for the amateur machinist, and they’re an enabling technology for many projects. But you’ve got to respect the old school approach to turning hunks of metal into finished parts with no computer control. [Ticktock34] shows off his skills on a WWII vintage manual lathe with a photo album of his .75 caliber miniature black powder cannon build. What starts as a 3″ diameter actuator from a front end loader ends up as a beautiful replica of a full-sized cannon, along with a half-filled barrel of nicely blued scrap metal. Particularly impressive is the nicely proportioned ball end, cut by hand with no more instrumentation than a set of calipers. [Ticktock34] also shares a few tips for getting the trunnions exactly squared and aligned.

Good looking, and functional – stay tuned after the break for a video with the impressive blast from a test firing – with only a quarter charge of powder, mind you.

Want something a little safer for the kiddies and less likely to result in a visit from the police? Perhaps this PVC pirate cannon is more your speed.

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The Hubless Horseman

hublessHorseman

Of all the free parts up for grabs at a friend’s house, nobody wanted the scrap wheelchair wheels: including [Eric]. That is, of course, until he spontaneously decided to try something a bit crazy and take on a bizarre yet remarkably imaginative hubless wheel bike build.

After attaching the wheelchair’s rim and its affixed handrail to the rim on his bike, [Eric] mounted pairs of rollerblade wheels to a separate piece of metal that essentially act as bearings. As the build progresses, the bike is further refined. More rollerblade wheels, a giant sprocket, and a pile of machined aluminum pieces. The valve stem for the tire had to be relocated to allow the wheel to spin freely.

The finished product is a stunning bicycle, which [Eric] later revisited, updating the rollerblade wheels to precision-lathed plastic (specifically UHMWPE) rollers. Make sure you watch the video of the Hubless Horseman in action. If, for some reason, your only prior exposure to hubless wheels is the TRON light cycle or [Kirk’s] motorcycle from the Star Trek reboot, do yourself a favor and check out their inventor, Franco Sbarro.

Building a 70-foot sailboat in Oklahoma

boat

Call it a retirement plan, a hobby, or a beautiful expression of a mental imbalance, but [Doug and Kay Jackson] of Tulsa, OK are building a seventy-four foot steel sailboat in their backyard.

For the last few years, the couple has been working on the SV Seeker, a motor sail junk, since late 2011. They have a wonderful build log, but they’ve also gone the extra mile and documented the entire build process on video. Their YouTube channel is one of the best subscriptions you can have on the site, constantly updated with new portions of the build.

Yes, building an oceangoing ship in a landlocked state may seem like an ill-informed idea, but Tulsa, OK is the home of the port of Catoosa, about 400 miles and 20 locks from the Mississippi river, then another 600 miles to the Gulf of Mexico and the open ocean.

Below you can find some of the highlights of [Doug] and [Kay] fabricating the prop for their ship. First, a pattern was created with a CNC machine, then a mold was made to cast each blade in brass. It’s an impressive bit of work putting all these tools together, and you really get a sense of the challenge of building something this big.

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Build an induction heater and become a metalsmith

If you’ve ever wanted to forge, cast, or smelt metal, this project is right up your alley. It’s a 30 kVA induction heater built by [bwang] over on Instructables. It gets hot enough to melt and forge steel, iron, and aluminum.

An induction heater operates by surrounding the object to be heated with a coil carrying high frequency AC current. Basically, the entire setup acts like a huge transformer with a shorted secondary. To get these currents into a workpiece, [bwang] used a TL494 PWM controller as an oscillator. The output of the TL494 is filtered and amplified a few times to generate a huge amount of AC current.

Larger versions of [bwang]’s induction heater are found in foundries and forges all across the land; even though this small version sucks down 50 A out of a dryer or stove outlet, induction heating is very efficient. We’re actually wondering why we don’t see many home blacksmiths using induction heating, so we’ll leave that for our readers to discuss in the comments.

[sessions] reminded us of this induction heater from a few years ago. A little smaller, but still usable.

Aluminum bending tutorial and a DIY brake

What makes a project really exceptional? Part of it is a, ‘gee, that’s clever’ angle with a little bit of, ‘that’s actually possible.’ One thing the Hack a Day crew really appreciates is awesome enclosures. Altoids tins will get you far, but to step up to the big leagues you’ve got to bend some aluminum. Luckily, [Rupert] sent in a great tutorial on bending aluminum sheets for enclosures.

To make his press brake, [Rupert] scavenged a few pieces of 38mm bamboo worktop scraps. After assembling a few of these pieces with some hinges, he was ready to bend some aluminum.

One trick [Rupert] picked up is scoring the sheet metal on the inside of a future bend. For [Rupert]’s project, he sent his 3mm aluminum sheet through a table saw set to cut 1mm deep. Of course this should only be done with a blade designed for non-ferrous metals with as many carbide teeth as possible. Judging from [Rupert]’s homebuilt Hi-Fi that used this construction technique, the results are phenomenal.