Built a leading edge bender thinger

Ordered the blind rivets I need to continue with the rudder from Spruce today, so they’ll be here tomorrow.  Tonight I wanted to put together my rig to use when I get around to bending the leading edge of the rudder. (and subsequent control surfaces)

The basic idea here is that you use a length of pipe to roll the edges.  This pipe gets taped to the edge of the material, and then as the pipe is twisted, you end up with a nice round bend in the aluminum.  The potential difficulty-based on reading other builders’ experience, of course, not my own-is keeping the pipe down on the table and pulled tight against the edge being bent.  While reading about this, I ran across a nice setup that seemed very useful.  Dan Horton from VAF simply used a few u-bolts to hold the pipe down against the table in place, and as the pipe was turned, the rudder would naturally slide towards the pipe.  Proper tension pretty much takes care of itself.

I liked this idea, but I didn’t like the idea of drilling holes in my nice workbench to mount the u-bolts, especially when you consider that every time I needed to space the bolts differently, I’d have to probably drill even more holes.  I wasn’t sure how else I would do it, but I went to Lowes after work anyway, figuring I’d just walk the hardware aisles and try to brainstorm a solution.  Eventually, I hit on a simple, flexible, nondestructive idea.  The only material I needed in addition to the length of pipe was some steel bar stock.  When I got home, I cut the bar stock into four 9″ lengths, then put two right-angle bends in one end of each piece.  The resulting “hook” can be clamped to the side rail of the table, and the bent portion hooks over the table and holds the pipe itself.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether this works as well in practice as it does in my head…

A couple pictures of the rig: (I still need to fine-tune a few things, but I’ll wait until I’m ready to roll the dges to do that)

IMG 5972

IMG 5974

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