Thursday, November 12, 2009

One thing leads to another - Ring Roller interlude

Some friends asked me to design a gate that incorporated calligraphy in the design. I thought I would do the calligraphy inside a circle and I started working on a prototype. I usually make circles by wrapping some 1" x 1/8" bar stock around a cylinder of some kinds a piece of pipe ora paint can for small ones or a trash can for big ones. This circle was about 12" in diameter and nothing in the shop was the right diameter. I thought about cutting a piece of MDF in a circle but didn't want to cover all my machines to protect them from the sawdust.

'It's only a prototype' I thought and being lazy, I quickly made the circle using my Diacro #2 bender. This is a beautiful piece of equipment for making precise, discrete bends. I made a small bend every 1" around the circumference and while my friends liked the design, all I could see were the bends, each one a precise angle. I did not want discrete bends, I wanted a smooth circle. In short, I needed a ring roller!

My first stop was the web where I saw lots of expensive ring rollers for sale, and some cheap imports. I went to Harbor Freight prepared to buy one but when I actually saw the way it was made -- not well -- I could not bring myself to purchase it. I wound up designing and building a ring roller with enough capacity to handle up to 1 1/4" wide bar stock, 1/8" thick. Several trials, about five weekends, and I had some education in how to design and fabricate (or rather, how not to d & f). Just as important, I had a new tool and some rings.

I took pics of the design and will post them eventually - too many to put on this blog. As for the gate, I am still working on the overall design.