Vise Reborn as a Roll Bender

Have you ever tried bending a metal rod into a consistent curve? Maybe you bent it over your knee or broke out a bucket or something. Doing it by hand never really gets the arc perfect. Handyman [Joe] found himself needing to bend a bunch of 1/4″ metal rod into various diameter rings. He didn’t have any tools to bend or roll metal and instead of fretting about it, he put on his ingenuity hat and built a perfect tool for the job.

That perfect tool is called a Roll Bender and it uses 3 rollers to bend metal into an arc of consistent radius. The straight piece of metal is passed by the rollers many times. The distance between the rollers is continually adjusted to reduce the radius of the arc of the metal until it reaches the correct size.

[Joe] started out with an old drill press vise. A piece of plate steel was welded to the  stationary vise jaw to provide a platform for a grooved pulley to be mounted. On the clamping jaw, a piece of angle iron was attached to support two very large bearings. The metal rod is clamped between the two bearings and the grooved pulley. A key made from a socket and some scrap metal as a handle allow the user to rotate the pulley by hand while the distance between the rollers is adjusted by the vise’s crank. Doing this moves the rod back and forth between all 3 rollers to gradually mold the once-straight rod into a full ring.

We’ve always been fond of machines that do the bending for you. Even if they haven’t been invented yet.

Building a tool to bend small metal tubes


[Joel] is setting up a really nice workshop. Included in his list of machinery are the staples of any workshop; a lathe, miter saw, containers full of organized screws, and a manual mill converted to a CNC machine. [Joel] wanted an oiling system for his mill, and like any good maker decided to fabricate his own. This required bending very small diameter brass tubes, something doable by hand (or without sand, at least). He decided to solve this problem with a DIY tube bending tool that allows him to bend tiny brass tubing without the walls collapsing.

[Joel] broke out his lathe and machined two brass rollers with a groove to hold his 3/16″ tubing. One of these brass rollers is attached to a handle, while the other is attached to a block that gets clamped into [Joel]’s bench vise. After threading some tubing through the rollers, [Joel] is able to bend it precisely with only a tiny bit of collapsing on small-radius bends.