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suggestions on how to bend aluminum rod

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  • suggestions on how to bend aluminum rod

    I would like to make an aluminium dock,, similar to these,,, the kind that roll in and out each year. I have purchased the aluminium for the webbing (1/2" solid bar) and the angle (1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 3/16"), based on what I saw as products currently available. I initially, was going to cut the rod into the appropriate length to form the web and then just weld each joint up. I have seen commercial docks done both with pieces like this and with the rod bent to form the web, so one piece.

    If I wanted to bend the rod, any suggestions on a fairly simple jig? I was picturing a flat 1/2" steel plate with some rollers and a lever or some other bending force. I have an old pneumatic cylinder but not sure it would have enough power under shop air. The rod seems pretty easy to bend. I want it to be fairly consistent for a nice appearance so I think the jig is the way to go. I am debating whether it is worth it for this project or to just go with pieces. I am thinking, from docks I have looked at, a 10" web would suffice. Any suggestions?

    Since I am not CAD wise, here is a crude drawing of what I am thinking. The question is how to move the bending roller (gotta be a better name for this...forming roller..? ;-) )

  • #2
    I don't think you should clamp the end of the rod.
    If you do the bend point changes as the rod gets pulled in
    Leave both ends free to move.


    • #3
      Wouldn't a cheap metal bender from HF be easier, or maybe even just a conduit bender?


      • #4
        800miner, I thought that maybe the bent end (I would be lifting the rod out and moving it to the left after each bend) might be pulled back slightly, distorting my previous bend so that by clamping it, the free moving end would be pulled in, only.

        JoeEM, I don't know, never used the HF bender or anything like it. I think I know the one you mean though... ? It looks like it might....

        I have used a conduit bender but I would think it would be hard to bend a 20 foot rod as consistently as I want, that many times without missing on some bends. I am not sure a conduit bender goes that small, does it? What is the OD of a 1/2" conduit?



        • #5
          A larger DiAcro bender (#3 or #4), set up with 1/2" dies, would make short work of this job.
          The one major issue I see is the amount clear space needed when working with 20' lengths.

          Pic of #4 DiAcro with 3/4" X .065 wall 6061-T6 "test pretzel". The same set up will work with aluminum bar stock.

          Last edited by rode2rouen; 05-24-2013, 12:14 PM. Reason: speelage


          • #6
            Wow! That is a serious bender...;-) Probably a little more than I need..., although it looks like fun..:-)

            I will experiment and see what I come up with. As always, working on other projects and trying to gather info on the next one. This is the next one.

            Thanks all


            • #7
              I built a bender some time ago. It is in the archives somewhere.

              This is it:

              Last edited by Evan; 05-24-2013, 12:53 PM.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


              • #8
                Originally posted by ShawnR View Post
                Wow! That is a serious bender...;-)
                You need a serious bender if you're serious about accurate bending, eh.



                • #9
                  Thanks Evan. As mentioned in that thread, very nice work.

                  I was thinking a one time project but now I think I might want a bender too.....I should quit coming here...too many ideas!!



                  • #10
                    I really think the Harbor Freight unit would do a very nice job, with a bit of patience and lay out work, for not a lot of money.


                    • #11
                      I think the OD of the 1/4" conduit is just over 1/2". The length of the rod doesn't really matter with those if you do the bending outside but yes it would take some practice to get the bends all the same. Still, it's not like it's one pull and done. You can bend a bit and look and if it's not far enough you can bend some more. Same with the cheap HF bender. They sell two - a compact and a benchtop. They're the same price but one (I think it's the one you didn't link to) has the concave dies that a rod would sit in. The other either has straight (for flats) and concave, or just the flats. Evans shopmade one looks pretty cool too. I thought I'd seen plans in a back issue of one of the metalworking mags - HSM or PM. If you want to make one and can track down an article # I've probably got the magazine and can mail it to you if it's from the last 10 years or so.


                      • #12
                        The diameter of bend for a 1/2" steel headed conduit bender is 7.5" and a aluminium head is around 10" diameter, if this is enough they will make quick work of the job, a used one at a garage sale or craig's list should be very cheap. Here is a link to how the benders work. If you are trying to bend the whole 20' length in one piece you may need to use something else but the pic's you show are 1 V up and 1 V down so I think you can make each one seperately and weld into place.
                        Good luck on the project and keep us updated when it gets going.

                        Mr fixit for the family


                        • #13
                          1/2" aluminum should be easy to bend. I would set up a V block in my arbor press and just start bending away. Mark all your bend points first than just go down the row. If no sort of press a hefty vise may even be enough but the V-block would have to be bigger.

                          Forhire pictured this jig in his arbor before. Would work just fine for the round bar.

                          For a made up jig I would also think the (also pictured by someone else earlier and everyone copied them including me) "cheap and fast bar bender" kind of deal would work.




                          • #14
                            Someone elses version.


                            • #15
                              Simple,efficent bender for small rods,even does the gauging-

                              Isn't this what your looking for?

                              I had to bend some 1/2 aluminum rod for a job awhile back,depending on alloy and bend radius the rod may have to be annealed.with 6061T6 the tightest 90* bend I could achieve was a 1.75" radius.After annealing I managed 1-1/4 and it was much easier to bend.
                              Last edited by wierdscience; 05-24-2013, 10:45 PM.
                              I just need one more tool,just one!