View Full Version : Making a cheap halogen bending iron

09-25-2017, 08:54 AM
I want to build a ukulele, so I need a bending iron.

I found a video of one person saying that 1.5" is a good diameter. 1.5" is also an easy size pipe to find compared to say, 3"+. I found a 19 gauge aluminum pipe for $6 for instance.

That's too small for normal lightbulbs, but there's e11 halogen bulbs that are about 0.5" by about 2".

I'm thinking of using a 200 watt halogen with a dimmer.

Does this sound like it sound work? Is there a specific range of temperatures I should be aiming for?

09-25-2017, 09:18 AM
A realized a google search would probably answer one of my questions, and it did:
The iron should generally be between 350 and 400 degrees.

09-25-2017, 09:21 AM
Also, I was thinking that aluminum would be good for the pipe to spread the heat from the tiny source, but maybe steel would be better for holding more heat?

Pat Eaton
09-25-2017, 10:13 AM
I used a BBQ starter, squished flat and inserted in a steel pipe. A dimmer supplies the temp control. A little practice with wood scraps will help you establish the temperature sweet spot for the setup you create. Too hot will scorch the wood, too cold and the bend is tough. Adding moisture helps spread the heat t the wood.

Michael Smith
09-25-2017, 11:31 AM
i too have made them out of BBQ starters. The advatage they have is they put our a lot of heat in a relatively short period of time. I would be skeptical of a lightbulb working as quickly and putting out enough heat. I think however it would be pushing it to put a bbq starter in a 1.5 inch pipe. Getting a 2 inch thick wall aluminum pipe and crushing it into a slight oval would work better. If you crush the bbq starter too much you will wreck the element. A heat gun into an aluminum pipe also works well.

09-25-2017, 02:17 PM
I thought about the charcoal starter, but thought the light bulb sounded easier to mount, and doesn't involve risking damage to the element by reshaping it. Also, cheaper and easier to replace if they burn out.

It looks like the charcoal starters use about 500 watts, which is the highest wattage halogen bulb I can find. So maybe I should use that instead of the 200 watt? The heat output would then be about the same.

09-26-2017, 07:59 AM
I use a heat gun and a piece of black iron pipe. You can get an 8" section at the hardware store that's threaded at the ends. Then get a pipe flange for easy mounting to whatever you like.
Stick with the small diameters for ukuleles. The waist bend radius is usually 2" or less on ukes so a 1.5" pipe would be good.

Matt Clara
09-30-2017, 05:05 PM
You'll burn the house down with a 500 watt halogen. You can bend most wood on an aluminum pipe with a 100 watt incandescent bulb. Harder woods are a challenge. I wouldn't go over 200. I used a 150 watt halogen for a while.