Bead Roller Upgrade & Tipping Die

Tipping Dies 22mm

I wanted a Bead Roller Tipping Die for my 22mm Jenny. However, when I looked online, they were out of stock. When bending steel you are placing extra force onto the bead roller. My bead roller already had unacceptable flex, so to use my tipping dies, modifications to my bead roller were also were needed.

I have one of those nasty bead rollers you see on eBay. It was second hand and flexed more than it rolled. The amount of flex was incredible and even whilst rolling 20awg steel, the top section flexed over 1cm! The flex was such a problem it started to wear the gears and dies, probably because one of the shafts had begun to bend. Within a few minutes of use, I had already started to cause irreparable damage.

Bead Roller

Cheap bead roller review

Unmodified as you try to turn a curve, the top and bottom frame sections jump and flex all over the show. Although small variations are normal, the depth and shape of any bead varies considerably as you enter a curve or approach the edge of a panel. If you tilt the metal entering the dies, the depth of the bead changes and the workpiece shudders. Because of the uneven pressure exerted on the workpiece, distortion around the bead is inevitable; leading to additional unnecessary work.

You aren’t going to get a crisp or even bead edge with a standard cheap bead roller.

I cured a lot of the roller’s flex by welding some 2″ angle iron to the rear, but ideally a custom frame is needed. Even with simple boxing, the improvements are dramatic, however I still believe that a custom frame would improve results even more.

The standard blue 10mm plate simply isn’t even close to being adequate for the job. When you buy one of these bead rollers, you are getting some gears, the shafts and some dies, but the rest is fit for the bin. You have a choice of boxing the blue frame or making your own from scratch.

If you look at the bigger bead rollers, they actually have a very similar throat depth and the dies, gears and shafts are interchangeable with their cheaper cousins. The main difference is the frame construction. What you are buying is rigidity. The extra weight is also a bonus. If your bead roller is free standing and not solidly bolted down, a bit of weight will help prevent it walking around the workshop as you twist and manipulate the workpiece.

Boxed Bead Roller

When you can flex your bead roller with a finger and thumb, don’t expect good results!

Here’s a guy with similar issues:

Here’s a whole list of people with similar issues:

Motorizing your bead roller

Strengthening is obviously needed before you even start, but for me, motorising transformed it’s use.

Rolling a straight line whilst cranking a handle, especially on anything larger than A4 is almost impossible. So to make mine more usable I added a motor with built in 40:1 gearbox (36rpm) and some large gears. The metal now travels through the roller at about 31cm/minute or 0.9rpm.

I’ve got two cheap foot switches. One for forward and the other for reverse.

To aid with rolling straight lines, you could add a couple of retractable guides and a pointer.

My initial set-up is here:

Folding steel along a curved line

I’d made the passenger door sill totally with hand tools. I couldn’t use my folder as none of the lines were straight.

Hot Rod Door JamI therefore thought I’d give it a go in the bead roller.

Lazze Demonstrating folding in a bead roller

Tipping Die CAD

I had one last piece of EN8 steel left. It was my first aborted attempt at making an anvil for for English Wheel. I therefore drew up some quick CAD.

Bead Roller Tipping Dies

If you have to pay to get these made then it’s not worth it (buy online), but handy if you want to make your own.

Tipping Dies Bead Roller