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JHCC's consolidated Hossfeld Universal Bender #2 thread


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As noted elsewhere, I just picked up a Hossfeld Universal Bender #2 for cheap:


I haven't started actually using it yet, but the plan is to use this thread as a consolidated repository both of my own learning curve and adventures in tooling up and also of a number of online resources that I hope others might find useful as well.

NB: Hossfeld is still in business, and they are still making and selling the #2 and its tooling. However, after the patents expired, another company called American Bender started making an exact clone of the #2. Their tooling is interchangeable with Hossfeld's, and it appears to be somewhat more affordable. You can find their respective pages with a quick websearch.


For starters, because everyone loves a good 1950s industrial training film, here's "An Introduction to the Hossfeld Universal Bender", complete with Longfellow quote, dramatic music, and sonorous narration: PART ONE, PART TWO.

Hossfeld has its own YouTube channel, which can be found HERE. Not as many videos as I might like, but some decent material nonetheless.

YouTuber This Old Tony has a video on Manual Metal Benders that has some good how-to info as well as some thoughts on shaping curves; this should come in handy on my current stair rail project. (Note: TOT uses the opening of the 1950s video linked above; don't be confused.)

YouTuber NPC94550 (the same person who posted the 1950s training film) also posted a video of the Hossfeld's scrolling forms, which can be seen HERE. There are a couple of videos on his page about converting his Hossfeld to hydraulic power, but I'm not going to link to them here.

There are a few more basic intro videos on YouTube from joe del praRob D'Amico, and some others to whom I won't link, as they focus primarily on bending pipe and tube. YouTuber The Hobby Machinist NZ has a four-part video series of building a Hossfeld clone and making the tooling.


From what I can tell, there's nowhere online where one can download a PDF of the Hossfeld manual, at least not for free.

Some basic instruction on how to use the Hossfeld can be found in Chapter 6 of Independence Through Mobility, a project of Appropriate Technology International for building low-cost wheelchairs in the developing world. The bender material starts on page 42.

Hossfeld's website has their catalog online in downloadable PDF, which has a lot of good information about the #2's tooling (although not much about how to use it). You can find the site with a quick websearch, so I will not link it here. The site also has a decent FAQ.

Finally, one Robert Grauman from Alberta, Canada made measured drawings of the components and much of the basic tooling for the Hossfeld #2 (or a near clone, anyway) as part of an assignment for an AutoCAD class; these can all be found HERE. Note that these are the drawings The Hobby Machinist NZ is using in their videos linked above.


Addendum: there are also a few IFI threads related to the Hossfeld, although they don't appear to have links to any additional information beyond what I've included above. Nonetheless, you can find them HEREHERE, and HERE.


The first order of business is to figure out how and where to mount the bender solidly. I think I might have an idea for this, but since I'm on the road for work, I'm not going to be able to try it out until the weekend. I also need to make some radius dies to for the stair rail project. More to come...



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Figured out how and where to mount the bender. It occurred to me that I could simply weld a bracket to the top end of my post vise stand, since the vise has a similar need to resist lateral movement. A few bits of 1-14" square tube and some cutting, drilling, and welding later, and voila!


A 1/2" bolt in each corner, and we're good to bend:


Unbolt the bender, and the vise goes back on:


Needs a little cleanup of the sharp edges and maybe a bit more welding, but I'm pretty happy with it (especially since it's much less elaborate than some of my earlier ideas).

First test bend: an eye in 1/2" square, bent cold.


The bender needs some oiling, and a lot of the parts are a bit rusty and hard to set up. In particular, the center pin is rusted in place and needs some penetrating oil (I think I have some PB Blaster left over from the machinist's vise project). I have to be able to remove it to add various tooling (or to use the narrower end for a smaller eye), so getting that shifted is high on the priority list. For the rest, I see a lot of wire brushing in my future.

Also high on the list is making the handle extension. I was able to bend the 1/2" square without too much trouble, but I can tell that some of the heavier stock I plan to bend will take more leverage. According to the Grauman drawings, the extension is made from 1-1/2" black pipe flattened down to just under 3/4", so I have to see if I have any lurking in the back of my scrap pile or if I can scrounge some from somewhere. (I buy it if I have to, but I'd rather not.)

(On a side note, I had forgotten that I'd attached the vise mounting plate a bit too far to the rear, which makes putting in the wedges a real pain. The bolts holding the plate in place are threaded into the top plate of the stand, so moving that isn't much of an option. I might make a new shackle to reach a bit farther back, unless I'm willing to spend an extra 5-10 minutes of muscling the pieces around every time I want to switch over.)


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A couple more videos. Because there's nothing better than an old-school shop teacher, here are a pair from one Bill Brustman (then at Rapid City (SD) High School, now at the Coon Rapids (MN) High School Center for Biomedical Sciences and Engineering):

Hossfeld Bender Set Up for the Mechanic Stool

Hossfeld Bender Set Up for The Creeper

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Think i'll follow this thread as well i could of had one given to me for free but i turned it down because i thought it would take up to much room in my shop and i didn't have much info about how to operate it properly.In other words i was too lazy to figure out how to set it up and use it because i was working on other gear....It is still available as well.

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Knocked out and cleaned up the center pin. Fairly straightforward, although I did have to sand out some pitting that was keeping it from sliding in and out easily. Also cleaned up the eye bolt bending dog, its two thumb nuts, and the offset flat head pin (the pieces to the left of the center pin).


One interesting detail of the center pin is that its diameter steps down at both ends, so that you can change the diameter of an eye bolt’s eye by changing the pin’s height or by flipping it end-for-end. There’s a little gizmo underneath that helps you do this; I’ll post a photo of that later.

This piece is an anomaly, and I suspect it was added by a previous owner for reasons unknown. You can see it in the first photo in the top comment, angled out to the side. I knocked it around to be in line with the swing arm, as it was blocking the arm from travelling through its full range of motion.


I’ll probably remove it later, especially if I can’t find it in the manual (once that arrives). 

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Looks good cleaned up did you get the round bending dies as well i'm thinkin the one i seen had them i could be wrong or it might even be a differant brand but it was on a stand and big.I'M trying to remember lol but once ya get it all figured out put up some pics of the differant bends and radius if ya don't mind.

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Mine didn’t come with any dies, alas. I don't currently have much need for bending pipe, so I should be able to get away with homemade bending blocks and radius dies. That should cover my needs for bending flat and round stock, at least for now.

If you go to the Hossfeld Manufacturing website, they have the parts catalogs for both of their benders (the #1 is similar to the #2, but smaller). 

Even if the one you're looking at isn't a Hossfeld, a free bender is not to be sneezed at.

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I think it may have been, especially since the stop block that clamps on the circle assembly (officially the "27B circle gauge") is missing. I am planning to make one of those (and may even have identified a good piece of scrap to make it from), so de-anomalization won't be a problem.

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No photos, but made a couple of small eye bends in galvanized election sign wire last night, as part of the hanging sign for the yarn shop. They turned out okay, and I feel like I'm starting to get a bit more of a sense of the bender's how and why. It may look like a fairly simple machine, but there's actually a lot of sophisticated detail to how the parts work together.

Also, I put a note on the local freecycle page on Facebook asking for some heavy pipe for the handle extension, and a friend texted me that he had some. When I went to pick it up, I saw that it might be a bit too big, but I might be able to make it work. We shall see. He also had a piece of 3/4" round that may have been some kind of crank for something, but that should be good for making the "U-pin with lug" (part #19B4), which I really could have used when making the eye bends mentioned above. (Side note: he also had some old decorative railings that used to be on a bridge in Avon, OH. I might go back for those another time. He's also a stonecarver who sometimes incorporates metalwork in his pieces, and we talked about my helping him out with some of the parts of one of his planned pieces.)

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IFI member Scott NC just sent me a copy of Hossfeld's original patent application, which was issued on November 6, 1923. I guess we need to have a 100th anniversary party in a few months.


A couple of notable details:

  1. This version of the bender is clearly intended to be mounted to a vertical surface, such as the side of a post.
  2. The tooling for bending eyes in flat stock is shown in the drawing, suggesting that this was an originally planned use rather than a later addition (unlike some of the other tooling, such as the dies for bending angle iron).
  3. The oscillating block (part 12B) is not shown, suggesting that this was a later addition.

I'm sure I'll see some other things later, but this is what leaps out immediately.

All in all, very cool. Thanks, Scott. 

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  Unfortunately no, and most all of my things are boxed and crated up, being stored or I'd take a few.  

  Basically, the smaller dies up to 4" are solid round barstock with a center hole and the larger sizes are slices of heavey wall pipe (with the ends beveled before welding) with a plate welded on each end, cut and ground flush with the pipe and then the hole drilled and pipe faced on the lathe.  A picture is worth a thousand words, eh?  ;)

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A quick stop at the ReStore yielded a trio of 1” Schedule 40 nipples that should — if my research is correct — serve as the foundations of some center tooling. 


(Once a vinegar bath takes the galvanization off, that is.)

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Also, the manual came in the mail today from Hossfeld.


The illustrations are basically the same as the catalog, but with a lot more explanation about what you are doing, what holes to put the pins in, etc.


Also, confirmation that the stock for the handrail project is within specs for the rated capacity. 


That’s a relief!

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Took a stab at making the extension today, but it looks like the pipe I got from my friend is too big. I’ll need to think about alternatives. 

However, I did make a pair of bending blocks (part 11B) by welding up a LOT of pieces of flat bar on a core of angle iron and schedule 40 pipe. 



Together with a piece of a circle jig I made for the fly press, I successfully bent cold some pieces of 1/4” x 1-1/4” and 3/8” x 1-1/2” flat bar. 



The thicker bar was a bit off a pull, but I suspect it will be much easier once I add the handle extension. 

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Speaking of which, I ran across some shorter pieces of 1-1/2” pipe while I was putting something else away.

The plan is to flatten some 2” pipe for the handle extension. I’ll then flatten a piece of 1-1/2” and make an insert that will be welded into the extension, forming a sort of angled tenon. This will slip into the end of the handle and be pinned in place when I need the extra leverage.

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