Tag Archives: Metal Forming tools

Building an English Wheel Part 1

Many years ago I ordered hardened wheels so I could build myself a bench top English Wheel.  Since that time they’ve sat on the shelf in the garage waiting for motivation and need. For those of you that don’t know an English Wheel is a metal forming tool that allows you to gently stretch and form curves in sheet metal.  I’ve found ways around using one many times in the past.   The CX-500 Cafe Racer build is the straw that broke the camels back and has motivated me to finally build one for myself.  I often use a pneumatic plannishing hammer up until now to form compound curves into sheet metal.  However to make the fenders fit tightly to the wheels for the Cafe Racer I need an english wheel. With no way around it, I got to building.

I used whatever I had on hand for the C frame.  In this case, 2×4 and 2×3 tubing.  I’ll reinforce the structure beyond this quite a bit with 45 degree corner gussets and possibly full lengths of 2″ x 1/4″ angle iron.  At this point the frame is just tacked together to make sure that it all fits and works.  The bracing and reinforcing will be done after I’ve finished with the mechanisms.  It is important to make sure everything fits and is aligned correctly before you weld up all the joints.   It is a lot easier to cut a few solid spot welds then to cut fully welded seams when you realize something’s off a bit in the end.



The upper wheel is very heavy. Not a surprise at 6″ in diameter, 3″ wide and solid alloy steel.  The upper mount is fabricated from some 2″ x 1/4″ angle iron.  The pin I turned from some 1″ rod I found in the stock rack.  It’s been there for ages from the amount of dust on it.  I”m not sure what it is, but I needed Carbide tooling to turn it and bi-metal hack saw blades weren’t hard enough to cut it.  Whatever alloy it is certainly something hard and strong.  Hopefully suitable for the 3/4″ pin that the wheels will rotate on.  If it bends I’ll just make another set of pins from something stronger like 4140.

More on this project soon as I hope to finish it in the coming week