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Old 01-04-2013, 10:30 AM
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recommendations on good but cheap metal fab tools

I have a brake, a sand bag, a shrinking disk, and some plastic mallets.

BRAKE

I'd like to eventually get a better brake where I can bend in one direction, take it about 1" and bend in the other direction. This seemsmandatory for rockers and I can't do that with my current $69 HF brake. Anyone know if their 36" brake can do that or relatively cheap one that can? Please don't preach about getting more expensive tools cause metal fab tools are EXPENSIVE and I plan to get your basics...not billy lane over here.

ENGLISH WHEEL

will get the harbor freight one and make it more structurally sound. Not worried about the dies not being perfect cause I'm sure I won't be doing perfect work learning to use it. Just want to have fun with it and learn and progress. If I get good at it, later I can decide to buy better but I see no point in getting the best as of now.


BEAD ROLLER

once again I will get the HF bead roller for only $200 and learn to use it and maybe later set it up to be motorized so I don't have to crank it while pushing metal thru it. I hear this is a great idea for this bead roller.

SHRINKER/STRETCHER

was thinking about getting the Eastwood ones for $200 but have noticed the deep throat ones are more. Is there really a need for the deep throat ones? I can simply shrink deep in the middle of the panel by using my shrinking disk and stretch with a hammer/dolly so doesn't seem to be a need for that. Opinions?

HAMMER FORMING

Was thinking about getting some T dollies, making some wood shapes to hammer form into, a tree stump(should it be flat or bowled?) and dollies to set into a vise.

OTHER TOOLS I'M CONSIDERING

slappers(but is a dinging spoon good enough?), maybe some more plastic mallets and I can shape the heads all differently, and later a tig welder(one day)


VIDEOS AND BOOKS

I have found Lazze on youtube and a few others. Any good recommendations?
Young Guns Fab is another good one.


Sorry for my ignorance on this but just trying to itemize everything so I can game plan on coming up with the money for all this. All opinions on equipment and tool suggestions is why I'm here asking and would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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Old 01-04-2013, 11:24 AM
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Your list sounds good to me..consider making your own bender as those are not hard to make..interchangeable jaws can allo for making the kinds of bends you need..There are some new tig welders out now that make learning tig sooo much easier so save for one of those..
Acouple of stumps with various configuerd tops are cool..

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Old 01-04-2013, 04:10 PM
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I'm about in the same place. So far I've got hammers/dolly's and RR track for anvil. I find a good vise with good rubber jaw guards work well for tucking.
I bought a HF bead roller but its shafts (shaft?) are not straight. Have to return it. Most reviews have been fair.

David Gardiners dvd is well worth it. Home - Our Online Shop

Lots of low buck tips.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:23 AM
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The HF or any of the similiarly built ones NEED to be reinforced before they are worth $.02. They will spring under very little pressure. I reinforced mine with 2"x1/4"wall square tube. Still not rock solid but more than adequate for most usage.
Next, drill and tap the 4 blocks the shafts run through and install grease zerks. Otherwise it wont be long until the blocks and shafts are wearing each other out.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:17 AM
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The HF or any of the similiarly built ones NEED to be reinforced before they are worth $.02. They will spring under very little pressure. I reinforced mine with 2"x1/4"wall square tube. Still not rock solid but more than adequate for most usage.
Next, drill and tap the 4 blocks the shafts run through and install grease zerks. Otherwise it wont be long until the blocks and shafts are wearing each other out.
I see what you're saying, and I bet those blocks wear out if you don't throw grease in them and just a little probably throws it off down at the dies, not to mention resistence. I heard a lot about reinforcing them so I'll do that as well, but obviously since it's HF I'll try out the dies and make sure everything is working properly. I think I have some 22 gauge laying around that would be perfect for testing it out. I'm thinking I'll get the shrinker first and the bead roller after that...then somehow and someway I'll convince the wife to let me buy and put that huge english wheel in our garage. thanks!
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonhog View Post
I'm about in the same place. So far I've got hammers/dolly's and RR track for anvil. I find a good vise with good rubber jaw guards work well for tucking.
I bought a HF bead roller but its shafts (shaft?) are not straight. Have to return it. Most reviews have been fair.

David Gardiners dvd is well worth it. Home - Our Online Shop

Lots of low buck tips.
I'll check that out, thanks. If you have time, check out younggunfab youtube page. they only have a few videos but they have some good stuff and easy to understand.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:19 AM
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Take a look here Williams Lowbuck Tools, Inc. Home Page . It's at least 2-3 steps up from HF
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:14 PM
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Take a look here Williams Lowbuck Tools, Inc. Home Page . It's at least 2-3 steps up from HF
awesome! Thanks for that.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:42 PM
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I agree that David Gardiners DVD is a great one. I have watched it a dozen times or so. He shows how to do most functions that would be needed to scratch build panels with only hand tools.

Rod



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonhog View Post
I'm about in the same place. So far I've got hammers/dolly's and RR track for anvil. I find a good vise with good rubber jaw guards work well for tucking.
I bought a HF bead roller but its shafts (shaft?) are not straight. Have to return it. Most reviews have been fair.

David Gardiners dvd is well worth it. Home - Our Online Shop

Lots of low buck tips.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Irelands child View Post
Take a look here Williams Lowbuck Tools, Inc. Home Page . It's at least 2-3 steps up from HF
Yes. And good but cheap fab tools are also often ones you make yourself (the experience of making/revising/breaking/fixing your own tools really deepens your understanding of the task you're trying to do), or pick up used. I have a Harbor Freight item here-and-there in a drawer somewhere but generally I figure every dollar I don't send that direction (i.e., China) is a good thing.
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