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How To

tool iconThis demonstration is posted in the auto and tools sections.

Steel Bending Tool - Pro 2 Bender

The tool featured below is a Pro 2 Bender by Howron Industries.

We purchased this tool in 2005 and have used it on a number of projects to form hot-rolled steel (cold-rolled steel cannot be used with the tool). bender thumbCompany ownership has changed over the years and the new owners have continued to develop the tool, die sets and made other useful changes to make the tool more flexible. In addition, the company website has become far more robust and contains a shopping cart and demonstration videos for the products.

The accessories discussed on this page may differ from current offerings by the manufacturer.

It's not surprising that prices have risen well beyond what we originally paid for the Dirtyshirt tool and we'd agree that their pricing structure seems reasonable given the quality of the product. This tool is pretty much a once in a lifetime purchase and is built with American battleship-ready engineering.

Using the tool does take a certain amount of skill and patience and we'd describe the learning curve as being fairly significant. As your skills improve you're likely to create more complicated bends. The more complicated the bends the more planning and foresight you need to understand how the tool will interact with the steel being formed.

As bends are added to steel the linear length of the steel will change since the bends themselves will shorten the length of the work piece. The question is by how much? The answer is that it depends.

For example, using 1/4" round stock let's say you need a piece of steel with a 6" leg on one side and a 6" leg on the other side with a 90° bend in the middle. Do you cut your initial steel stock to 12"? The answer is no, each leg would then be less than 6" due to the 1/4" or so taken up by the 90° bend. Each leg will be 1/8" short but if you continue to add bends the declination is multiplied.

Remember that as you add bends to the piece the shorter the piece becomes along its linear length.

It's also possible that after one or two bends that you cannot perform a third bend because the work piece is interfering with the tool itself. The intent is not to scare you away from bending but you'll probably see the above scenario as either a challenge or a nightmlare. If you choose "nightmlare" then save your money.

After the demonstration video we've provided pictures that describe how we've maximized the capability of the tool.

video icon

The bender is being used to fabricate a muffler bracket. The muffler sustained damage at one point and is now causing and irritating noise due to vibration at low rpm.

base and mounting plates

The bender comes with a base plate for floor or bench-mounting and a plate that attaches to the tool (at center) for mounting to a tool-stand of your own design. The user supplies whatever metal or wood is used for the stand.

mounting brackets

Here, we've fabricated a stand from steel tubing that will mount to a truck trailer-receiver and brackets that will be used for mounting the tool to a bench as an alternative.

bender mount

Here's the stand for the truck receiver version.

bench mount

Here's the same rig mounted to a bench. The bender slides out of the brackets for storage away from the bench. The brackets were made with the bender installed on the truck receiver.

bending tool accessories

We wanted the capability to bend tubing and this kit was purchased as an add-on to the base bending-tool frame. There are additional dies that can be purchased for specific tubing sizes and bends.

bender radius dies

The tool comes with a set of radius-bending dies and the metal if formed around these dies to achieve the bend. The dies shown are nested and this is the way they are installed on the tool. Just add or remove dies to achieve the desired radius.

pins and stop blocks

The tool also comes with a set of pivot and forming pins and stop blocks.    It’s difficult to describe exactly how all of these pieces work in conjunction with one another and it’s probably best to watch our demo video as well as those created by the manufacturer.  Note that the storage box shown was not included with the tool.

We've noticed that the manufacturer has upgraded the pins from the bolt-style shown in the photo to what's known as a "hitch pin." It is essentially the same thing with the addition of a grab-handle that's integrated into the pin and we believe this would be a great improvement over the old style of pin.

angle die

As mentioned in the video Jeff fabricated the die shown here. Its purpose is to create sharp-angle bends up to 90°. The manufacturer provides instructions for making this die as well as other useful add-ons. It's helpful to have previous metal working experience and having access to a welding machine is essential to complete the die fabrication.

user's manual

As mentioned, our tool was purchased awhile back and we can only assume that improvements have been made to the documentation. A DVD was supplied with the tool and lacked a polished presentation but it did in fact demonstrate how to use the tool. We would describe the written documents as more of a collection of disjointed thoughts rather than a true how-to manual.

As a consequence of this gap and since technical reference material is the lifeblood of our shop we created our own manual for performing different setups and photographed the tool for visual reference. The bender is a specialty tool and as such doesn't get a lot of use – until it's needed. As time goes by we found that we'd forget setup details and didn't want to sit and watch the DVD as a refresher. Creating our own reference manual solved the problem.

The lack of concise reference documentation is by far the biggest problem we found with this tool and having a manual with setup pictures sitting next to you as you perform setups is invaluable.   See below for some of the complexities involving setup.

hard way bend

Tool setup for bending steel "The Hard Way."

Flat stock is bent across its thickness rather than across its width. This operation is performed on top of the tool rather than in the center and uses the additional accessory kit mentioned previously.

right angle

The accessory kit has been removed and the shop-built right-angle die has been installed.

scroll bending

Tight scroll bending using the accessory kit. Larger scrolls are produced by using the radius dies that come with the bender.

tubing bend

A square tubing bend is performed using the accessory kit. The kit must be installed to perform this type of bend.

Visit the manufacturer's website by clicking here.