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Build your own metal shapping tools

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Duke, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Duke
    Joined: Mar 21, 2001
    Posts: 626


    Like many of the guys on here I really wanted some quality metal shapping equipment and didn't have the budget to buy the good stuff. So I started researching the tools I wanted and built my own. I built two tools, an english wheel and a plannishing hammer. My total investment on these tools is way less than the cost of the Harbor freight copies and they work way better.

    Build 1- Plannishing hammer
    Steel- from the local metal recyclers. You want to find something that is strong enough that is holds it shape and the force of the hammer is not lost to the spring of the frame. The larger the throat, the larger the steel required.
    Here is the finished product.


    A plannishing hammer is a simple machine, but there a few things that make the build easier.

    Step one- Frame design
    Decide how big a machine you need, how big a part do you plan to put in it? You don't want it too big unless you have unlimited floor space. My machine has a 25" throat. Buy the adjuster bolt before you build the frame so you can build around it as well. The other thing you should consider when building the frame is a comfortable working height.

    Step two- Weld up the frame
    The main thing to consider is making it square and strong. Even heavy material can get pulled out of square with too much welding in one area. My front legs have adjuster bolts under them so that they can be leveled to the floor (three point contact).

    Step three-The adjuster bolt
    I used a large grade 8 bolt that I picked up at industrial bolt supplier. I had a friend machine the stamping marks off the top and machine a hole that fits my dies.


    The bottom nut is welded onto a piece of pipe. The piece of pipe needs to be long enough that the bolt can be turned down so that you can change the dies. The pipe is then welded to a flat plate that is bolted to the base. I is important that the plate is bolted to the plate as you may need to shim between the base and the plate to align the die and hammer. You can thread the base if the material is thick enough or flush weld nuts into the base (I used 3/8 nuts- drill a 5/8 hole).


    Step four- The hammer
    I used a cheap air hammer that I had in the shop and it seems to work really well. The hammer is mounted to a flat plate that is welded to the frame. The clamp is just a piece of pipe that I split on one side and pushed onto the air hammer. I welded a couple pieces of flat bar with a 3/8 bolt to clamp the air hammer. Make sure you weld everything up nice and square and aligned at this point.


    Step Five - Controls
    I picked up the air pedal at Princess Auto. It works as a variable control for the air hammer. I also have a small regulator and gauge that I can adjust on the machine. I installed a cheap in line oiler and a air line swivel that seperates the hammer from the regulator to try to minimize vibration.


    The dies
    I purchased my dies from Hoosier Pattern in one of their e-bay auctions. The dies have six different radiuses. I have also noticed other made in the US dies on e-bay. The upper hammer is just a surplus aircraft rivet set.


    The English Wheel Build
    If you can build a hot rod you can build and english wheel.

    Step 1- Frame Design
    What do you plan to use the machine for? There are very large forces on the frame of an english wheel and they require a heavy frame to work properly. I recommend that you look at the frame design spreadsheet that is available on before you buy the metal for your frame. I would like to thank the guys on allmetalshapping for their ideas that helped my build, especially Kerry from Imperial English Wheel who shares his vast knowledge of these machines with all who ask (if you plan on buying a machine check out Imperial English wheel). My machine has a 27" throat so I could effectively wheel a panel up to 4 feet. You are better off to build a smaller machine with a strong frame then a big machine that flexes so much that it does not work. My frame is build from a scrap 3x6 3/16 building pillar that I picked up. You will notice that I built my frame in a C shape. It takes more effort to build the frame this way, but it should be stronger due to a shorter backbone than a frame made with 90 degree angles. I have an old horizontal bandsaw so cutting the angles was not a big problem for me. If you don't have a bandsaw I would just cut my angles at 90s.

    Make sure you consdier the size of your adjuster, and wheels when designing your frame. You can easily build the frame out of cardboard on the floor of your shop with your wheels and adjuster to make sure it all works out.


    Step 2 - Build the Frame
    If you build a C shapped wheel the key angle is 22.5 degrees. All of my cut angles are 22.5- the frame and even the feet on the legs.
    Make sure you keep it all square and flat when welding it together, skip around so you don't warp it.

    Step 3- The adjuster
    My adjuster is the jack out of a craftsman radial arm saw. You can pick up an old saw for $50 or less. Just strip down the saw and pull out the jack. I used many of the mounting hardware parts and bushings for the hand crank in my build. The jack is bolted into the frame so I can remove it if there is ever a problem. You will also notice that the clamp holding the adjuster is also bolted to the frame. This is important so that you can move it if you need to adjust the alignment of the wheel. My crank wheel is a model T swap meet item. This adjuster works very well.



    Step 4- The lower and upper anvil holders
    My lower holder is just a piece of 2.25x2.25 1/4 wall tubing. It fits my 2" wheels perfectly. I has a piece of 1/4 flat bar welded to the bottom to strengthen it. It is mounted to the lower tool arm with a single 3/8 fine thread grade 8 bolt in the center of holder. Under the lower anvil holder there are 4 3/8 bolts threaded into the tool arm. These bolts can be raised and lowered to adjust the alignment of the lower and upper wheels -WHEEL ALIGNMENT IS CRITICAL ON AN ENGLISH WHEEL. I screwed up and put my bolts at the four corners of my anvil holder; a t pattern would have been better.

    The upper wheel holder is also a large piece of tubing that fit my upper wheel. It is mounted with a single 1/2 inch bolt so that it can be turned if need. You will notice that I have used washers to shim my upper wheel. I did this so that I can offset my wheel if I want to use an embossing lower anvil

    Wheels- the lower wheels are critical for a good english wheel. You are better off to have one good quality lower than 6 junk pieces. A good lower should have a machined flat and not a constant radius. The flat is what makes contact with the metal and does the work. I recommend Hoosier Pattern for Anvils. My upper wheel is from Hoosier as well but it is their starter budget cast wheel. It works find if you don't wheel over welds.

    Step 5- lower tool arm
    You want the lower tool arm to be bolted to the frame so you can adjust it for alignment and change if you need something for a special project. My tool arm is made out of same 3x6 as the rest of my frame, I just pie cut it to slim it down.


    Step 6- Final mounting
    Bolt on the tool arm. Bolt the lower anvil holder to the piece of flat plate that you are using as a mounting plate. Set your wheels in the machine and align everything. Shim or grind between the top of the tool arm and the flat plate to align the wheels, then weld the flat plate to the tool arm.

    Make sure your legs are wide enough that they support the machine. Do not put casters on the wheels- you will be chasing the wheel around the shop.


    Final alignment
    You should be able to put a piece of flat glass between your lower and upper wheel and add some presure and the glass should stay flat if the alignment is correct. Change the alignment with the adjustment bolts under the lower anvil holder. You can also align the wheel by using a flat lower or just an axle in the lower anvil holder.

    I just finished my machines two months ago and I love them and have already been building patches for my A coupe.
  2. This is excellent; thanks!
  3. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 990


    Nice to hear that Joe is still making wheel sets. I bought a set of wheels for the E wheel I made from Joe. VERY worth the money- I highly recommend Hoosier Pattern products.

    And ain't it fun making your own tools?
  4. Kevinsrodshop
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 589


    I didn't realize Princess Auto had air pedals. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm going to get one. Nice work on the english wheel. I need to make one too.

  5. Home made tools rule.
  6. Nice work, good post.
  7. Greezy
    Joined: May 11, 2002
    Posts: 1,436


    Great tool tech, thanks for taking the time.
  8. bct
    Joined: Apr 4, 2005
    Posts: 3,092


    nice work duke...
  9. tyler6469
    Joined: Jul 17, 2009
    Posts: 27


    thats impressive great job
    Joined: Aug 8, 2008
    Posts: 3,618

    Alliance Vendor

    Nice work!

    You should enter the tech week contest!
  11. haroldd1963
    Joined: Oct 15, 2007
    Posts: 1,154

    from Peru, IL

  12. Bert
    Joined: Feb 22, 2005
    Posts: 404


    good craftmanship, but I do have 2 bits of advice....turn up your welder some more.....and having the top wheel as the adjustable one...does it slop around any?.....good stuff non the less, making your own tools is a good way to usually goes "I gotta do such and such on my model A, but I need this first....hmmm, I better make shrinker stretcher/wheel/trolley ra ra first.....haha then we got a project within a project within a project...the place looks like chaos....but its great satisfaction when done....and more money saved for other goodies....again, good stuff........Bert
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2010
    Joined: Mar 31, 2007
    Posts: 355


    Good thinking! Thanks!
  14. Duke
    Joined: Mar 21, 2001
    Posts: 626


    Thanks for all the feedback, I hope this post helps someone.

    Bert, no slop on the top or bottom wheels. The welds look big as most of them are double pass. You can adjust the top wheel with shims if required.

    Kevinsrodshop- if you ask them for an air pedal control they will say they don't have one, look in the hydraulic area.
  15. Blown 26
    Joined: Mar 1, 2010
    Posts: 30

    Blown 26

    Awesome great job thanks for the info
  16. cadillac daddyo
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 420

    cadillac daddyo
    from wichita ks

    wow great tech i can wait to make these
  17. Prostreet32
    Joined: Jun 17, 2009
    Posts: 145

    from Indy

    Nice job dude, have inspired me to build my own for my garage.
    I have been wanting bot a planishing and wheel for awile, but like most, they are a bit price prohibing to buy,..building them makes great scence,...thaks again!
  18. Duke
    Joined: Mar 21, 2001
    Posts: 626


    Thanks, I would really like to win that shinker/stretcher, that is a really nice machine!
  19. Duke
    Joined: Mar 21, 2001
    Posts: 626


    Go for it, you will be happy you did the first time you use them!
  20. 49meteor
    Joined: Sep 4, 2008
    Posts: 129


    Nice job
  21. mrjynx
    Joined: Nov 24, 2008
    Posts: 971


  22. FoMoCoPower
    Joined: Feb 2, 2007
    Posts: 2,490


    What`s a shapping tooll?
  23. Its a dork that thinks hes a school teacher but hes actually just a gearhead:D
    Is school teacher one word or two?

    Nice work Duke. I gotta take your hints/ advice and build me some tools! Thanks a bunch!

  24. dumprat
    Joined: Dec 27, 2006
    Posts: 2,766

    from b.c.

    Looks good. Nice idea with the table saw parts.
  25. Unsafe6
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 129


    Love the hammer Duke. Gona build me one of those.
  26. Dribs
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 4


    Right on, great hammer!
  27. blackout
    Joined: Jul 29, 2007
    Posts: 1,270


    Excellent post, thanks.
  28. Jethro
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 1,499


    Nice job Dustin! go make sumpfin!
  29. Lono
    Joined: May 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,655


    Nice work duke,
    I think I may need to build one for the next project. Have subscribed to this thread so i dont loose it.

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