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post-model3bender.jpgNo fab shop is complete without a tubing bender.  It quickly gets old only building things that are square.

You can spend megabucks on a bender, but JD Squared offers a relatively inexpensive unit that’s quite popular with racers and bike builders called the Model 3.  You may have even seen it on some of the Discovery channel’s biker build-offs.

The Model 3 can handle 1/2″ to 2″ diameter tubing with appropriate die sets, and comes in its most basic form as a man-powered bender with an included degree ring.  JD2 assumes that if you’re in need of a bender you’re probably already capable of fabricating simple straight structures, so they sell the unit “a la carte” with the bender, handle, stand, and individual die sets all sold separately.

To get started you’ll need the bender itself which sells for $295 and at least one die set.  They sell for $125 to $200 each depending on size.  JD2 says their most popular die sets are the 1-1/2″ and the 1-3/4″, which are commonly used by racecar fabricators for roll cages, and the 1″ which sees a lot of use in the bike building community.  Many others are available. 

To keep your investment as low as possible, you’ll need to obtain your own handle (which is simply a piece of 1″x2″ rectangular tubing of appropriate length) and you can bolt the basic Model 3 to any heavy table or workbench.  Or, if you want to jump right in with zero “sweat equity” you can purchase the handle from JD2 for $40.  They also offer a mounting pedestal designed to bolt to a concrete floor for $135.

When you’re ready to step up to the big time, JB2 offers a hydraulic kit for the Model 3 for around $700.

JB2 also offers a Model 4 bender which starts at around $1050, comes pre-equipped with hydraulics, and can handle thinner tube than the Model 3.  However, JB2 says that the Model 3 handles most of the most common thicknesses used in automotive applications.

The Model 3 sells both direct from JB and from a number of retailers, though pricing seems pretty constant no matter where you buy.  A little looking around could score you a package deal, though, so shop smart.

The Model 3 Tubing Bender [JB Squared]