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Spinning metal? form question

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  • Spinning metal? form question

    I just glued up a form for a specialty headlight. I was told by my buddy the carpenter to use elmers glue, as good as anything. I laminated exterior 3/4" plywood.

    NOW for forming tools? Is a hardwood stick enough or do I need to build a fancy roller stick? I have 22ga mirror polished stainless to stretch over the form.

    Release agent? wax on form? Oil on stick? vegetable oil?


  • #2
    David, attempted to spin once , need to invest some time to make proper tools. I bought a Lindsay book on spinning , was well worth the 4.00 . I do belive you will need a polished and hardened spoon to form the stainless along with some good cutting oil. also you may have to have the parts annealed several times to get the desired shape/depth. Stainless work hardens something fierce,when forming. We had some Aircraft header collectors made at a shop I worked at out of spun stainless, 7 annealing cycles to get the parts to final shape ,without cracks.Very expensive. Good luck, Maybe try aluminum first? Shawn


    • #3

      Last time I saw anyone spinning metal was at a professional metal spinners.

      IIRC...they used a long metal bar with a ball race mounted on the end of it to form the metal,ordinary household bar soap as a lubricant.The end of the forming bar was tucked under the operators armpit for leverage.

      The work was held in place with a wooden disc against a running centre,tightened against the metal when it was running true.

      I seem to remember they made the actual former out of steel.


      [This message has been edited by Allan Waterfall (edited 02-01-2005).]


      • #4
        Maybe this will have some information that will help.

        Download this pdf file:


        [This message has been edited by Mike Burdick (edited 02-01-2005).]


        • #5
          Hey David, good information on the above link. The book from Lindsay's goes into much greater detail, and at less than a six pack, is a pretty good bargain. Check'em out Good people to do business with, and more books on technical stuff than you can shake a stick at.
          Smitty.... Ride Hard, Die Fast


          • #6
            I think what worries me.. is the thought of turning on that 24" cinncinatti lathe, hitting the metal with the tool the part comin spinning out like a hubcap off'n a tire smokin streetrod?

            Ever saw one? they will stick into a telephone pole. (We used to street race) Bad on the flagman.

            I'll have someone around the first time. The form is glued up, not turned to shape yet but glued. I may bolt it to a backing plate and spindle extension.



            • #7
              The Home Shop Machinist had a series on metal spinning a year or two back. Maybe the back issues are still available?


              • #8
                <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by ibewgypsie:
                Release agent? wax on form? Oil on stick? vegetable oil?
                Chill out, you're gettin' me excited. The wife has locked herself in the bathroom and the dog is hiding behind the sofa.


                • #9
                  Stainless, huh?

                  Not the stuff most people would want to learn spinning on. It's extremely nasty to spin, to say the least. It'll be a challenge, but from your previous posts it's apparent you like challenges, so go for it.

                  A roller tool might be best.

                  Release agent...doubtful you'll get the material to lay over the form tightly, so I wouldn't worry about a release agent.

                  A word of very careful working with stainless. It's dangerous material to spin.


                  • #10
                    I saw a metal spinning DVD for sale on ebay.
                    I checked out the website it is a two dvd disc set, explains everything from making your own spinning tools to spinning all kinds of shapes. It might still be on ebay.

                    the website is



                    • #11
                      A friend of mine is a hobby metal spinner. He gives this rule of thumb: When spinning soft metals (brass, aluminum, copper, etc.) use a hard tool (polished steel); and, when spinning hard materials use a soft tool (brass).

                      A professional metal spinner by the name of Paul Wiley wrote a book on the subject. Go to his Web site...


                      ...and click on "The Art of Metal Spinning"

                      Paul doesn't recommend spinning stainless steel, even if you are a professional. I've seen it done, but I also have sense enough to listen to someone with 40 years of professional experience.

                      Paul also has a Yahoo group, The Art of Metal Spinning.

                      Get a book and listen to a pro.

                      You can see some pictures of metal spinning at:


                      It shows the size of the tool and the technique of holding the handle between the upper arm and body.

                      BTW, glycerin soap works well as a lubricant between the tool and the part being spun.


                      So many projects. So little time.


                      • #12
                        well since it's a headlight, it would have a hole in the back, right?

                        if so you can run a bolt or all-thread trough it and into the die as a drawbar rather than just relying on tailstock pressure. then it's captive and cant come out and slice you up.