View Full Version : Better Than My Old Bender

Michael Smith
10-19-2011, 09:59 PM

Here is what I came up with in my attempt to build a better than I had bender. I was going to buy a bender but many of my buds on the Luthiers Forum had complained bitterly about their commercial benders taking up to 15 to 20 minutes to get up to bending temp. That would drive me crazy as well as being somewhat of a fire risk for me as I can become distracted or engrossed in other projects while waiting for a bender to heat. The main bender unit consists of a piece of 1.25" by 3" by 6" aluminum purchased from a scrap metal dealer for $4. A piece of 1/4" plate steel, some 1/4" all thread and nuts, a 400 degree probe thermometer and a 3/8" by 3 1/2" 350 watt heating element. Safety was one of my main concerns and to that end I made the bender of all steel that claps into my shop vise. I also put the unit on a timer so if I forget to turn it off it will shut down on it's own. I don't feel good about using the open flame of a propane torch in a wood shop if I can avoid it. I have had propane torches that after you shut them off still had an invisible flame burning. I managed to set the underside of a house on fire one day while sweating copper piping with that torch. I wired the outlet I plug this bender in such a way that the upper receptacle is on a dimmer to control the heat and lower is also on the timer. I use the lower for my hot glue gun. I have a friend who's business was burned down from and employee leaving a glue gun going one night.

I roughed out the aluminum shape with a band saw, then took my belt sander outside, put on a good dust mask and final shaped the aluminum on sander. It took about 30 minutes to shape the aluminum block from start to finish. I realized when I was almost done I could have used a metal electrical receptacle box for the back part of the bender that houses the electrical connections and saved myself some work.

How it works.

The bender heats quickly and evenly, coming to bending temperature in 2.35 minutes. The probe thermometer is a nice feature as it sounds when a programed temp is reached, however this particular thermometer has a max heat of about 385 f. That is a little too low for this use as it sits closer to the heating element than the surface of the bender. After a few uses I have a good handle on where to set the dimmer. I had to buy two heating elements as the company which I bought from has a $25 minimum. I turned the unit on full one day and left it there and killed one of my elements.

All in all I'm very satisfied with this bender and feel I have increased the safety in my shop by having the bending iron in all steel and on a timer that can also be used for my hot glue gun, and heating blankets.

10-19-2011, 10:17 PM
You bloody beauty. I'll take one.:cool:

10-20-2011, 12:13 AM
Nice Job ! ..I like it :)

10-20-2011, 08:57 AM
Very nice design. Quite Elegant in fact. Need to put that in the project notebook.

10-20-2011, 10:31 AM
Resolved that problem. Nice job. Thanks