I purchased an inexpensive, imported bead roller, and although it works reasonably well, I’m interested in making some improvements. I saw your YouTube video on beading machines, and there was a machine shown that appears to be similar to mine, but it had been reinforced to keep the frame from flexing while working on heavy materials. I’d like some tips on reinforcing the frame if my machine, and I’d also like to know if it’s possible to add a variable speed motor?
Via the Internet
I recently received some photos from Tom Waterfall, from Redwood City, California, who beefed up and motorized a machine that is probably very similar to yours. In the photos, you can see the square tubing reinforcement he bolted to the back of the frame on his machine, drastically reducing the flexing, which is so annoying. Many people have welded reinforcements to the steel plate frames of these machines, and that can be an effective solution, too.
Tom purchased a variable speed motor from another manufacturer, controlled by a foot pedal, and he cleverly adapted it to the import machine. He did this in such a way that the same motor can be used on another beading machine he owns, which has a cast-iron body. It’s good to plan ahead like this, so your investment in expensive accessories can be utilized on more than one machine.
There are a few other refinements that you can see in the photos. You’ll see there is a “T” handle used to raise and lower the top shaft and die, which is much more convenient than turning the square-headed bolt that the machine comes with, requiring the use of a wrench. You’ll also see a coil spring that retracts the top shaft, adding another very beneficial feature. Without this spring, gravity is always pulling the top die down against the work, so you often need to lift the shaft by hand to remove the panel after use. While this may seem like a small point, once you’ve gotten used to having self-retracting shafts and dies, it seems cumbersome to have to lift the shaft manually to release the work.
You’ll see that there is a worktable positioned at the end of the machine. The height of this table is perfect for holding a flat panel in the correct orientation to the dies, and it’s easy to remove the table if your part has protrusions that would interfere. There is also a small support surface above the lower shaft, further helping to support flat panels. This support can be easily removed if there are features on the panel that would interfere.
Also note that the reinforcing frame simply rests on the workbench beneath it, and can be held fast with clamps or bolts. That makes it easy to remove the machine when not in use, freeing up valuable table space. The frame for the second machine is designed to hold the dies at the same height, so the support table works with both machines.
Planning ahead about details like this can make modifying tools a very rewarding exercise, and be sure to let us know if you dream up some additional improvements for your machine!
You can email your questions to Professor Hammer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to: Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Blvd Ste 105, Freedom CA 95019; you’ll receive a personal reply! Ron Covell has made many DVDs on metalworking, and he offers an ongoing series of workshops across the nation. Check them out online at covell.biz, or call for a current schedule of workshops and a free catalog of DVDs. Phone (800) 747-4631, or (831) 768-0705. You’ll also enjoy Ron’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/covellron.